“Are you confident?”
As I was exiting a hospital unit, I heard a nurse utter these words… I have no idea the context, but in that moment, I was tempted to audibly answer the question that hadn’t been meant for me. Overwhelmingly, I felt like shouting back, “Yes.”
Had I been unintentionally posed this question earlier this summer, my answer would have been quite the opposite. Why? Resilience. This summer, I’ve been expanded.
I began the summer literally and metaphorically overwhelmed with the baby hairs and frizzies on my head. I was to dress business casually each day, meaning I shouldn’t permit my hair its traditional unruliness. So I fought to pin down the baby hairs and smooth over the frizzies to force my hair into submission. I’ve spent a lot of time this summer feeling like so much of who I am and what I look like clashes brutally with the sterile hospital environment.
I’m trying to improve my drawing skills (I want to create a comic book of sorts soon), so I follow a few illustrators on Instagram. I saw a cute drawing that exemplified resilience with drawings of bodies of water (and I love bodies of water). There are 3 pools that grow larger as they proceed down the page with the words, “I swam across this,” written beneath each of them. Then, beneath all of them, is a larger body of water, like a lake, with the words, “I can swim across this,” written beneath it.
It’s taken me a while, but I think I’m finally realizing that I’m a star, we all are— and we’re meant to shine.
The best band in the world, Brand New, has a lyric that goes, “So I’m asking you to shine it on and stick around.”
In Confessions St. Augustine writes, “Grant my prayer, O Lord, and do not allow my soul to wilt under the discipline which you prescribe. Let me not tire of thanking you for your mercy in rescuing me from all my wicked ways, so that you may be sweeter to me than all the joys which used to tempt me; so that I may love you most intensely and clasp your hand with all the power of my devotion; so that you may save me from all temptation until the end of my days.”
It seems to me that St. Augustine and Brand New are urging the same thing. And it seems that this summer, I learned the merit of each’s words.
There’s this belief that keeps entering into my being during times when I start to self-deprecate… it’s this belief that I can. I can go talk to that person (whatever the context may be). They are worthy of my time, but I’m also worthy of theirs. Instead of waiting out the perfect conditions, instead of waiting until I feel good and ready enough, I should act. Maybe in order for those conditions to be perfect, I just have to go and start creating.
At the beginning of the summer, I couldn’t get out of the hospital faster. Now, I find myself staying late. I open each patient’s door to join in with what I believe God has already been doing in there, but I see now that God has a very specific role for me in that, should I choose to accept. I’ve learned that nothing I do or don’t do can thwart God’s plans and acts of reconciliation for the world. I have also learned that guilt is not a credible guide and have started refusing it power over me. Should I allow laziness or fear to keep me from saying or doing what I feel I need to, I believe God will appoint someone else to deliver what is needed. But how much more wonderful is it to RSVP on time to the party God has invited you to?
I’ve had the sweet privilege of serving as Chick-fil-A’s cow mascot this summer. I’ve been a mascot in different contexts for the past 8 years (hahaha). It’s something I love, feel called to and feel I’m good at. I see mascotting as an art and as ministry— as a way to spread joy and love to people, helping them recognize beauty. This week as the cow, I approached a customer who almost immediately started laughing receptively and welcomingly. I turned up the funny and even picked up her fork and fed her a bite of the mac & cheese resting on her tray. She started laughing even more vibrantly. She said through smiles, “You must have known I had a bad day! I was sitting here about to start crying and then you came over. You just made my day, cow, thank you.”
Similarly, this week a patient I visited said to me, “I thank you so much for coming! I am grateful for our conversation; this made my day.” It seems that what I do as the mascot (something I’ve been so comfortable with for years) is not so different from what I have been doing as a hospital chaplain (something I’ve been quite uncomfortable with for most of the summer). I went through so many days this summer thinking there was no way I could be good at being a hospital chaplain.
I’m amazed and pleased to say that I can. When God calls and empowers you to do something, you can. I can’t wait to see what I learn I can do next.
The baby hairs from the beginning of the summer have grown out now. I still have some other baby hairs springing up, and I certainly have some frizzies, but I’m far better at managing them now.