Posted by: jmdenham | December 1, 2016

Doing Enough?

For I’m sure a multitude of reasons, I became teary eyed and wanted to cry over an episode of Scrubs.  In that episode, Dr Cox and JD have two separate interactions about not blaming themselves for a death, and Dr Cox walks away completely broken and numb.  I think my response is telling and very reflective of what it can feel like to work in a hospital, work with kids, work around sickness, and sometimes…sometimes feel that you didn’t do enough.  That feeling is present as a doctor, but is also present as a nurse and social worker and chaplain and everybody else for that matter.  It is a vulnerable feeling and one that connects deeply to me.

Could I have done more? Could I have made a difference? Did I not do something, did I not reach out, did I not take the extra step, when it might have changed some piece of the life of a parent or kid?  Did I miss an important follow up question? Should I have stayed more? Isn’t there some way to have helped them feel more at peace or explored their faith in some way?

These feelings have especially come this week after a 1) rough death that probably comes down to SIDS, and 2) the visiting of children with cancer struggles that have been brutal and just as treatment goes, lonely.  Watching these kids, and their families, and providing compassionate faithful care to them, has at times been beautiful. But this week it has felt like that scene of a broken doctor walking away, feeling like he could have done more. 

Yeah, I know better.  I know there has been joy and there isn’t really much more I could have done. I do know I could always stand to improve and grow in my ministry. But  I also know that watching suffering is brutal and I don’t want any of it for anyone. There is something about the helplessness of watching the brutality and unstoppable force of human suffering. 

But if may take this a step further…there is something in this feeling that’s important to feel.  The feeling for me is a confession of my weaknesses, my limits, even our limits. It’s a confession and a plea. God, I am yours, the confession. And Come Lord Jesus, the plea. Come come Emmanuel and ransom captive, broken Israel. That’s my plea God.

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