Saturday, July 25, 2015
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
My wife and I differ in our communication styles. Pretty common for a married couple, but I’ve been struck by a thought recently that perhaps my personal communication flaws may be more a generational problem. At the risk of further admitting that my wife is right about a lot of things (love you honey!), I’m willing to put one of my flaws out there. My communication style is lazy.
What do I mean by this? Well, I grew up with instant messaging, text messaging, and email. It’s a really easy way to communicate and can be very convenient. It’s also very easy for someone to hide behind it. Want to break some bad news or say something that might make people uncomfortable? Send them a text. Don’t have to watch or hear their reaction and the message has been delivered. Want to say you “followed up” on something without really caring whether it happens or not? Send a busy person a two line email that will get buried in their inbox. Mission accomplished! I’ve checked a box off my to-do list without really accomplishing anything.
The more years that go by and the longer I work a real job, I’m much more inclined to “reach out and touch somebody” if there’s something I need to communicate. No, I don’t mean physically lay hands on people, but I do mean either talk in person or call. I’ve found that I can not only confirm that my message has been delivered much better, but whatever task needs to be done actually happens at a much higher frequency when there is a real voice on the other end of the line.
Case in point, I needed my student loan servicer to fill out a form for me. They have a lovely chat function on their website where you can get “instant help.” I hopped on and chatted with customer service rep, who assured me this could be done without an issue. I faxed in my form and waited…and waited. Nothing happened. I got on again. They said they never received the form and to fax it again. I did…with no response.
This happened one more time before I finally called in. After explaining that I was not a happy camper, I was transferred to a “resolution specialist” who physically sat by the fax machine, received my form, signed it, and sent it back. The whole process took twenty minutes. I had been waiting for two weeks.
I know my wife is smiling at this point while reading this. She has been saying for years that this culture of sending email for everything and actually talking to no one slowed everyone down. Well honey, here are those words that you love to hear…you were right. As a culture, we tend to rely too much on technology assisted multi-tasking. We check boxes but don’t really accomplish anything. You want to get something substantive accomplished. Talk to someone. You might even enjoy it.
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Sunday, May 31, 2015
I've started gardening here recently. Nothing too complicated. Just four pots with one each labeled tomato, zucchini, cucumber, and squash. You can ask anyone that knows me; this was pretty shocking. I'm not the most handy individual. In fact, I often have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to any kind of home project or yard work. Tim Herlihy can vouch for me back there. He drove by and saw my yard after winter and just shook his head. I could hear him saying,"What is that boy doing?"
Believe it or not, I have managed to get the beginnings of some vegetable plants in my back yard. You see, despite my lack of green thumb or ability, growing vegetables isn't complicated. The ingredient list is short. Seeds, soil, pots, water, fertilizer, sunshine. That's it. Make sure you plant around the right time of year and keep the water and fertilizer coming. You'll have a fighting chance if you do that.
Watching these plants grow every day has been refreshing for me. Unlike us, these plants do not seek answers for their future or what God's will for them might be. The cucumber plant is a cucumber plant. That's what it aims to be. It doesn't try to become a tomato or zucchini. With all of it's needs supplies, the future of these plants is secure. They will become what they're supposed to be. Questioning that would be ludicrous.
The truth is that our questions about Gods will for our lives often sound just as ridiculous as if my cucumber plant were asking them. What job should I work? Should I live in this neighborhood or that one? Its just like my plants asking should I put my roots on this side or that side? Should I catch that raindrop or this one? These are really trivial questions in the grand scheme, and all of them come from an innate need for security and answers despite the fact that God has already provided for our every need no matter what neighborhood we live in.
So lets stop making it complicated. Lets stop being cucumbers trying to figure out if we should be tomatoes. Lets just be God's children and let that be enough.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
Sunday, May 17, 2015
This week's events in Berkeley County, notably the shooting of Lieutenant Rogers, have prompted me to change what I'm going to say today. I'll start today by reading 1 Peter 5:7:
Cast all your anxiety on him for he cares for you.
The ICU rooms at MUSC are all designed the same. Each room has a desk sitting outside the room with a computer. There is a window into the room that allows you a view of the patient. Having spent many hours in the ICU's of MUSC during residency, I am very familiar with those desks. Physicians typically sit there and enter orders while trying to oversee the, sometimes chaotic, scene unfolding in the room.
You find out a lot about yourself at those desks. I know I did. As an ICU physician, your job is to essentially wait for catastrophic things to happen and then you are expected to fix it. The truth is that you learn a lot about your limits while sitting at those desks. You are witness to great feats of teamwork and hard work sometimes, which are incredibly rewarding. You are also witness to situations that you are simply unable to change. Physicians don't like to talk about it much, but there are quite a few situations where we simply have no control or idea of what is going on.
On those nights sitting at those desks outside those rooms where Lieutenant Rogers is now being cared for, 1 Peter 5:7 got me through. I take great comfort today knowing that those walls have heard that verse repeated countless times. I have said it over and over again late at night when I was the lone physician sitting there trying to do my best to help patients, just like the ICU team is doing now for Lieutenant Rogers.
The reason that 1 Peter 5:7 can get you through situations like that is because of what Christ did on the Cross for us. Today, we commemorate what Christ did and how that gives us power now. We remember that 1 Peter 5:7 still applies, whether you are Lieutenant Rogers and his family or the physician trying your best to take care of him. We should remember that power every day in our daily lives.