Off The Deep End

I drove to work this past Monday morning, as many of us did, feeling deeply saddened, heartbroken, and still reeling from the events of the previous weekend.  As someone who works in the mental health field, I see a great deal of suffering on a daily basis, but it has somehow seemed magnified over the past few days – with every individual with whom I came into contact, there seemed to be an overwhelming amount of sadness and struggle.  Addiction.  Psychiatric illness.  Physical illness.  Domestic abuse.   I spoke last night to an amazing group of parents and educators in a local community, who recently experienced a tragic event at their school.  We talked about substance abuse, and fear, and warning signs, and feelings of powerlessness.

There is enough heaviness out there to drown us if we let it.  And I confess that I can sometimes start to go under a little bit when I take my eyes off of the One who is my source of hope.  I needed to be reminded this week that our God is a redeeming God, a God of hope, a God of PRESENCE, who, as my friend Mark said in his Sunday message, CHOSE to be present in the midst of our mess.  He chose to do so 2000 years ago, and still chooses to do so today.  And my soul can rest in the knowledge that God is with me – is with us – even in, and especially in, the things we don’t understand.

Mark posed a question during his message that reached in to the deepest part of my soul:  Will you move out of your fear towards Him?

And the answer, for me, is a resounding YES.  YES, I will take a step out of my fear and towards my Savior, knowing that my hope is not in the things of this world.  YES, I will pursue the hope of Christ like my life depends on it, knowing that only by embracing and sharing this hope can I truly impact the world around me. YES, I will choose to be present with God, this Christmas season and beyond – to be still, and to rest in the knowledge that He is ever present with me.  YES, I will choose to be present with the people in my life – to be FULLY present, and to fight against the distractions that can steal my attention.  And finally, YES, I will choose to be obedient to God’s commandment of “Do not be afraid,” choosing to trust in God’s faithfulness and to be mindful of the many, many ways I have experienced His faithfulness in my life.

Immanuel.  God with us.

Be Present

I love to make lists.  It’s therapeutic.  Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I make lists of things in my head – my top ten favorite songs of all times, my top ten favorite movies, my top ten favorite books, etc.  If the insomnia persists, I continue with the lists – top ten favorite video games from the 80’s, top ten favorite episodes of “Friends,” top ten favorite cousins (I have a lot of cousins – and if you are one of them, and you happen to be reading this, then yes, you definitely made the top ten list.)  Okay, I’ve never really made a mental top ten list of my favorite cousins – I pretty much adore them all, so it would be more like a top bazillion list.  But I have made a mental top ten list of pretty much everything else, given the fact that I have never been what one might consider a “regular sleeper.”

A couple of weeks ago, my blog crashed.  I had just written a post about my top ten current favorite things about my job (top ten lists are fluid, and they change frequently as life adds to them), and when I posted it, the site crashed.  With some help from my Cousin Jill, the Ninja Blogstress, the blog was able to be repaired, which made me happy, because writing has been a really fun thing.  So tonight, as I go to rewrite the post, I’m realizing that a couple of work-related things have happened in the past week or so that are also list-worthy, and that I need to add to my original top-ten-current-favorite-things-about-my-job list.  So, here we go.

Top Twelve Favorite Things About My Job

1)  The chance to be a part of a team who is deeply committed to each other and to our patients, and the fact that we can laugh at and with each other to the point that it causes physical pain.

2)  The necklace given to my fellow social worker, who is courageously battling cancer, by our Medical Director.  It says, “Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed.”

3)  The fact that our Utilization Management Director hung up on me from the get-go when I called him with a question earlier this week, simply because he did not feel like talking to me at the moment.  This elicited the physical-pain-causing laughter mentioned in #1 above.

4)  The fact that this same above-mentioned Utilization Management Director has Christmas balls hanging from the ceiling above his desk, for no apparent reason whatsoever.

5)  My dear co-worker who assists our patients in obtaining funding for their medications.  Although she has a progressive muscle disorder that limits her mobility, it does not dampen her sense of humor.  Everyone with whom she comes in contact is better for having encountered her.

6)  The giant, taller-than-a-Volkswagen (my Volkswagen, to be specific), mound of ice that was strategically placed behind my car recently, resulting in my having to wait until it melted down before leaving the hospital.

7)  Our Activities Therapy Department, who help our patients to find expression and amazing creativity within themselves that they often did not know existed.

8)  The fact that my friend and Crisis Team coworker actually rubbed Campho-Phenique on my sunburned feet a couple of weeks ago after I spent too much time in the lazy river.

9)  The giant, economy-sized bottle of Germ-X in our hospital administrator’s office, which exists for the purpose of keeping us all squeaky clean.

10)  The fact that when I called our Crisis and Forensic Services Director to get the name of a contact person from her, she not only provided the contact, but drove up to the hospital to help me with a difficult situation.  On a Friday night.  Before a holiday.  In the pouring rain.

11)  The bowl of warm nuts given to me by our Medical Director when I brought some papers to her home for her to sign while she was working from home recently.  Warm nuts are really good, turns out.

12)  The occasions when we get to see our patients leave the hospital with more hope and a greater sense of dignity and value than they had when they arrived, and the honor of being a small part of their journey.