I want to talk about love. But I'll start with a story first. I was in the checkout at Walmart not too long ago, and after the cashier handed me the receipt and thanked me, I responded with, "Love you!" Oops. So I walked out of the store mortified that I had just declared my love to a cashier. But why? Why should I be embarrassed to tell someone who probably needs to hear it that I love them? It has become a bit of a problem in our society to declare love. You can LOVE donuts, you can LOVE your car, and you can LOVE your dog. But a cashier? Um, no. Oh, if I tell someone I love them, they are going to expect something out of me. Like what? Compassion? Basic decency? Uhhhhgggghhh not that! A donut can't expect anything, so it's OK to love a donut. All my car needs is gas and maintenance, so I can love my car. My dog is a little more complicated. He needs food, water, a nice back yard to relieve himself, and he does expect the occasional GOOD BOY! But even when I trip over him and step on his ears, he seems to think it is his fault and he acts all pathetic until I tell him he is once again a good boy.
People like to wait a really long time before they declare their love to a person. They have to date and text and talk on the phone and be good and sure before they can say they love them. Because they have to be willing to fulfill whatever expectations come as a result of being the object of one's love. People treat love like it is on the endangered list, like there's a limited supply of it. But what if I told you that you can love everyone in an unlimited amount, and you won't run out? Is that just too shocking? I just think that if we let ourselves access that place in our souls that craves to love and be loved, and allow the entire human race to experience that vulnerability that comes when you share love, there would be a whole heck of a lot less of all the bad stuff that lurks around the edges of life waiting to devour us.
Why am I harping on love suddenly? I just read a book called Physician Suicide Letters Answered by Pamela Wible, MD. I'm not going to tell you all about it, because you should read it. DO it. But it's pretty much just what the title describes. It is a gut-wrenching wake up call about the unsupportive atmosphere surrounding medical students, interns, and physicians with depression and/or mental illness. If everyone would just stop trying to cover their own butt and create an environment where medical professionals feel safe sharing their struggles, maybe we wouldn't lose professionals in numbers that equal the enrollment at a medical school every year. The answer is love. Doctors are afraid of love because it makes them feel vulnerable. They are bullied into burying their capacity to love so that they can get through the rigors of medical school and residency, and are often unable to access that place even when they want to. But it is that very capacity that leads us to medicine in the beginning!
"We need a medical culture that supports our emotional health, that normalizes our need for comfort and non-punitive help when we’re in pain. Until then, please reach out to each other. Maybe a buddy system. Don’t allow doctors to isolate."
Wible MD, Pamela (2016-02-10). Physician Suicide Letters Answered (p. 166). Pamela Wible, M.D., Publishing. Kindle Edition.
I used to think that the attitude that I got from doctors when they found out that I was going to medical school was just because they were old and tired. I'm beginning to understand that they didn't want to see me go through what they did that turned them into what they are. It is repeated in this book over and over that these suicidal physicians wish they had never gone into medicine, and they can't see any way out because of the weight of paying back their student loans. This hopelessness drives record numbers to take their lives because they don't see a future with a solution.
So I choose love. I love donuts, I love my car, and I love my dog. I also love my HB, my kids, and my family. I love my church, and I love my fellow students. I love the faculty, the staff, and the cleaning crew. I love the Walmart cashier. I choose to show my love by allowing those around me to say, hey I'm having a rough go of it. And when they say it, I'm going to do my level best to help them get better. I'm not going to act uncomfortable or get all fidgety and tell them to suck it up. I have access to a bottomless supply of love, and I'm going to share it. So if you need love, and you know you do, come find me. I got it.
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