One of my chaplain friends had a hard day. For us, “a hard day” means that we absorb the pain of other people who are in crisis. The crisis isn’t ours; we walk out of the hospital at the end of the shift. But there is an emotional cost of staying attentive and compassionate and proactive toward the well-being of patients and their families and our colleagues (in that order).
At the end of the shift, my friend went across the street to Culver’s and placed an order. I’m not sure what happened. My friend said something that was out of character, was a reaction rather than a response.
Knowing the person, most people would regard the response as within the bounds of normal. But for my friend, it felt wrong. And so, on the way to work the next day, my friend stopped by Culver’s. To apologize.
The people at the counter smiled. “We probably wouldn’t even have noticed it,” they said. “We’re across from the hospital. Everyday, people walk in here after hearing or seeing or experiencing awful things. We understand that and give them space.”
My friend was amazed at the emotional maturity of these fast-food employees, treating the counter like a safe space. I was humbled by my friend’s character, viewing people as people, not as food dispensers.
I offer this as an example of Paul’s final words to one of the churches: “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.”
Encouraging each other, living in peace – these actions aren’t complicated. They simply involve us taking into account the situation of others and our on reactions, and orienting them toward the well-being of each other.