The Pastor and I both get to work alongside some all-stars. We can debate about who has better co-workers (me) but today I’m going to tell you about one of his coworkers. Pastor Brit. She is a unique spirit to say the least. Brit has chickens; not for food but for pets because she doesn’t eat meat. Not even bacon. The chickens all have names and she can tell them apart. I’m not making this up. She recycles everything, (EVERYTHING!), probably doesn’t own a pair of heels and doesn’t need fancy expensive lattes, just coffee from her thermos. Sometimes it’s enough to make me roll my eyes. But the craziest thing about Brit is that she will gladly give me the bacon that came on her salad, she will tell me I look great in my shiny high heels and she doesn’t make evil eyes at me each week when I walk into church with my non-recycled coffee cup with an expensive latte inside that probably is harming the planet…at least not to my face. Why? Because Brit doesn’t expect anyone to apologize for where they are in life, good or bad. She has the true gift of opening her arms and welcoming whomever shall find themselves within her reach. In her current role she ministers to our college students and young pastors around the country and I am CERTAIN that she has, and will continue to, save lives by loving and accepting young people exactly where they are at the moment she meets them.
Honestly this is a tough one for me. One of my most over repeated mantras in life is that “That’s just the way I am” doesn’t fly with me. “We don’t let bank robbers or kidnappers get away with saying it so why should we let you continue to (insert some poor effort or unkind behavior).” I have spent thousands of hours of my life reviewing my shortcomings and working towards becoming a better physician. I probably should spend more time working to become a better person but that’s another story altogether. Accepting you where you are now? Difficult.
But then I started reflecting on some conversations I have had in the last few months. I found myself at the receiving end of several apologies. These apologies weren’t for things like accidentally hurting me or even saying something unkind. These dear friends were apologizing for their mental and emotional burnout. Apologizing that they weren’t OK. Apologizing for needing help or prayer or both.
I found myself saying more than once “stop apologizing. it’s ok not to be ok.”
You see, no one apologizes for having diabetes…or high blood pressure. (Although when it happens to me I’m sorry I ate all those peanut butter M&Ms and bacon.) So why do we expect someone to apologize for their emotions? Sometimes life is hard and you have nothing to give. It’s ok just to receive. Some of you, my friends, have experienced unimaginable loss or abuse. It’s ok not to package up neatly your grief, your burnout, your depression or whatever else is going on in your heart and mind like it’s a 30 minute sitcom that needs to end on time so we can all watch the news. (Pro tip: stop watching the news.)
Take your time. Move through your grief and do your work at your own pace. May we come alongside you and accept you in wherever that place is you are staying. To love you at that moment more than you love yourself. Until you are ready to move on. Then, when you are ready, please give away compassion and kindness and mercy like it’s your job. Shoot, it probably is our job. Give as strongly as you received. Remember that you were welcomed with open arms and recount the mercy given to you and return the favor.
If you don’t listen to Lauren Daigle you are missing out on one of the true wonders of life. She has a song called “Rescue” that summarizes what every human needs to hear on their worst day, and maybe even on their best day.
I will leave you with just a few lines from this remarkable anthem.
“I hear you whisper you have nothing left….I will never stop marching to reach you in the middle of the hardest fight it’s true…I will rescue you”
grace and peace my friends.