Monday, August 30, 2021

A Shift of Focus

Once upon a time everything seemed so simple ... nearly 30 years later, it felt completely and utterly hopeless.

Up until this weekend, if you asked me how we were doing with handling the COVID crisis, I had very little good to say.

In truth, John and I were completely empty. We were done. There was a heaviness in our chest that wasn't going away.

And that was scary. How could we do this for many more months (years?) if we were already feeling so incredibly burdened and broke.

During the first wave, we had hope that once the vaccine came out, this would end. At least the really bad parts would.

But to see the "bad" return even worse than before felt so incredibly defeating. It felt "hopeless."

I kept thinking about Ecclesiastes: "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless."

We believe in God, of course. We knew this life was but a vapor. But to watch so many people die, and for John to feel he was having to defend his life's work hour after hour while working an ungodly numbers of hours as his staff kept quitting and people yelled at him in the waiting room because they weren't being seen fast enough even though they believed this was a hoax only an hour earlier while we at home were left with just remnants of him when he came back to us ... we were done. 

The only thing is: we couldn't be done. With five ER docs, John cannot quit. It isn't like saying "I can't quit" to other things. This time, He really couldn't. There's no way he'd be physically able to stop going to work while the ER totally went under. This community would completely sink. There is no one else. Everyone that can be a doctor or a nurse right now is.

I met with my counselor last week. I spoke to many friends. My pastor/cousin Josh called me. John spoke in long detail with my dad. Many friends sent care packages or cards or notes. A friend just stopped and prayed with me for ten minutes. God was sending so much, and yet I could not get this heaviness in my chest to lift.

And even worse, John couldn't either.

John and I spoke about it. I asked him what this feeling we had was. It wasn't anxiety or depression really. It felt different.

It was burnout, John said. He was sitting across from me after fighting with a husband about his wife in the ER. She would die. And the husband thought he knew more about viruses than John did. (He didn't.)

And we both were at the end of our rope. Many times one of us and the other can pull one back up. But this time, we were both just hanging there. 

So weary. 

And there are still many miles to be run.

But Joy comes in the morning and by Sunday morning, God got to John. And John was able to give that to me.


We cannot do it. 


But we have Jesus.

I Thes 4:13 tell us: "Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind who have no hope."

John and I have both encountered a mind shift. God. That's the part we were leaving out. Not on purpose. We were asking others to pray and mumbling prayers ourselves, but we truly just felt so hopeless. This burnout couldn't go away when it was getting worse and more waves would be coming. Our family misses him so much. He is so spent by the time he gets to us. We are so done.

But we aren't. 

WE are. 

But with God, we aren't. With God, truly, all things are possible. Isaiah 40:29 says: "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak."


Beyond description.


So, so, weak.

Remove this from us Jesus. We don't WANT to fight in this battle anymore. We were at the bottom. We had begun to think: "How can we end this? How can we stop fighting on the front line?"

And God, through many voices giving us the RIGHT WORDS, HE renewed our strength!

Isaiah 40:31 says: "but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." 

Nothing has changed. John left this morning for three shifts in a row he wasn't supposed to be doing because they don't have enough people to cover things. He's still not sleeping well. Either am I. We are tired beyond belief.

But GOD IS SUSTAINING us. We know the end of the story. We know who God is. We know He can carry us.

So we are renewed. 

We can only do today. We can't even look at the big picture. God is giving me enough for today.



AW said...

Love you friend.

Rachel said...

That part of Ecclesiastes was our Sunday school lesson yesterday. I will keep praying for you all - for the feeling of His presence and peace on the hard days and rest and joy in the few days off.

TAV said...

The sentiment here is so real. Compassion fatigue from doctors and all healthcare workers is real. I was recently at a low point, too, crying a lot with some bad (preventable) outcomes. Our week's sermon focused on 1 Thessalonians and being compassionate to all (regardless of their choices and how much they're harming us, emotionally and physically). 1 Thess 3: 12-13: "May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones." I have felt God's peace come over me. I am no longer taking people's hurtful words and actions so personally. I am focusing on one patient at a time, being the best doctor and Christian as I can be to that person, one by one. As I read in a great book recently (Anxious People, by Fredrik Backman): "We can't change the world, and a lot of the time we can't even change people. No more than one bit at a time. So we do what we can to help whenever we get the chance. We save those we can. We do our best. Then we try to find a way to convince ourselves that that will just have to be enough. So we can live with our failures without drowning."

Anonymous said...

I remember taking that picture!! A great memory. JVW