I wake up having to motivate myself to study and go buy new scrubs and work shoes with my good friend. At the shoe store I look over and notice a severely handicapped gentleman with his parents. Wait a second, I know him! He went to my high school! But, I can't remember his name. Oh, come on Tim remember! JAMES! That's his name!
Here comes the doubts and excuses "But, he won't remember who I am. He can't talk, how do I communicate? Can he understand me? I don't want to disturb them."We have all had this situation. See a person you know you should talk to, but because we find some way to justify our NOT talking to them, we don't. This same justification permeates the healthcare field also. They see someone like James, wheelchair bound, drooling, not talking, and they leave them in their room. No contact. I've even heard people say, "I'd rather be dead" ... "thats not living"... "he is a vegetable". This infuriates me to no end. Any given person in this "instant" generation has hundreds of friends on Facebook, can't be without their phone for the fear of missing a text, constantly updates everyone about their lives. How can this generation of "connection" be so adverse to taking just a little more time to connect to others? Take the time, take the extra effort. As Patch Adams once said "You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you'll win. No matter the outcome."
People have always known me to be one of the most outgoing people. They think I don't have the same fears or doubts as others. WRONG. I have the same doubts and fears. I just learned how to deal with those pesky fears and doubts.
In that shoe store, I took those doubts and told them to go shove it. I walked up saying loudly and smiling the entire time "JAMES! James right? How's it going buddy! I remember you from high school!" And RIGHT then. Not even 2 seconds after casting down those doubts and fears it was all worth it. He smiled the biggest smile I've ever seen. His entire persona changed, brightened up, and came alive. We then had a conversation how he is going to college, his new computer, how he flirts with his cute aides at school, high-fived, and on and on. Instead of being the blessing to another, I was now the one that being blessed. Ignore these opportunities, whether in a store, or working in the hospital it is BOTH you and the other person losing out. This so-called "severely handicapped" person just experienced joy, love, life. Sometimes life isn't worth living for these people you are right, but it is NOT because of their state of health or debilitations, and inabilities. It is because of the ignorance of those that will not take the time to connect with these beautiful and most sincere people.
We said our goodbyes and good lucks, and my friend and I left the mall. On our way out, I notice a homeless women holding up a sign for food. I get this urge, this little voice in my head "you need to connect with this person." Here again come the doubts, "but I already passed her"... "I might scare her" ... "Its not safe". I said out loud, more for my benefit than for my friend's, "We should get her food." I quickly U-turn and pull into a In-N-Out close to where she stood. My friend said "yeah we can get her a burger and hand it to her as we drive by". "No," I replied, "That's not good enough. There is no connection, no human interaction in that. No, we are going to sit down and have dinner with her."
I walk up to her and her two dogs, invite her to have dinner with us and she accepts with a "uhhh YEAH!" She just asks for a hamburger "animal style". I come out with hamburger, fries, drink, and two different milkshakes so she can pick favorite flavor. We then sit down for a good 2 hours just talking away. Listening to her stories as a voluntary hobo: riding the trains, hitchhiking, how many people have completely avoided her due to the way she looked, hobo communities, police encounters, losing friends to accidents or drugs, etc. She admitted before she started this she was atheist, but "on the road" she could not deny that there was something there. Something that saved her many times from situations she should not have gotten out of. I was able to share my story, pray with her, and with tears running down her face, give her a big hug before parting ways.
I do not tell you these stories as a "oh look at me" moment. I tell you this to show that compassion for those around you CAN happen. I encourage you to be brave. Break those societal barriers, personal doubt, and fear. Do not listen to the falsehood that you are a failure. I thought that if I didn't make it as a top doc, I couldn't help people the way I was meant to. Truth of the matter is, whether you work as this high-to-do surgeon, or as a grocery bagger, there are opportunities to reach out to your fellow man and touch their lives. In return, you will notice it is your life that has been touched.
Matthew 22:36-4036 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'
46"For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47"If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?