Friday, November 28, 2008

anxiety

ok, i'm going lower case for this one, maybe to blunt its powerful commentary on our current worldview and the state of affairs in just about everything in america, but definitely in the area where i 'live', pediatric medicine. and for a deeper spiritual assessment of anxiety, look for my wife's blog on this subject to be added today at feedingthespirit.blogspot.com.
lots of anxiety exists when it comes to taking care of children.
i was sharing in this anxiety until recently, or at least sharing more in it, i can't just drop it completely any easier than you can. but i sure got a different perspective on it after listening to my favorite radio pastor, alistair begg, on november 7, 2008. much of what i'm writing he says in his podcast. no, i'm not putting myself in the place of God, trust me. i'm not qualified and i definitely don't want that job. i'm more in the ballpark with the airline pilot alistair mentions. it is this part that resounded with me so much.
if you are anxious on an airline flight, worried about crashing or the landing gear engaging or the weather or anything, to some extent you are thinking that you could do a better job than the pilot. despite no pilot training, you are at least, and probably/hopefully unconsciously, acting as if you could handle this situation better than the pilot. do you understand this concept? you have 'submitted' to the expertise of that pilot at least implicitly and once again possibly unconsciously. you know that, given the stick or the wheel or whatever they have to fly a plane, you couldn't handle it. sure, there are safeguards, like in the movies where someone comes from seat 23B and saves the day by landing the plane. but that's a movie.
i know the analogy breaks down when i translate it into patients as passengers and doctors as pilots. but hopefully you see the analogy to the degree that it applies.
the patients (i.e., the parents of the patients) often (very respectfully in general) question everything that i'm doing and recommending and have specific guidelines that they want to follow for their child/ren. these are often scenarios where i can easily say 'good luck' with an 'i'm sorry' ready for later when my advice should have been followed. i envy dr. phil his 'how's that working for you?'
i want to let you know that i really and truly share your concerns about your child/ren. and i really and truly do not want to harm your child or have anything i do or recommend turn out badly for you or your child.  there can be times when i'm wrong. i admit it, i've been wrong in the past, i'll be wrong in the future. i don't mind having my judgment questioned at times, and i understand the anxiety created by our current worldview that we are in control of everything and we have to get it all right every time or awful things will happen.
this is the most important piece of information i want you to grasp. you're not in control of things. i'm not in control of things. God is in control of things. regardless of how it looks at times, in the big picture, He's got it covered. we are supposed to rest in that. yes, you have to get up and feed and dress your kids and take care of them and yourself. i have to get up and go to the hospital and the office and give my advice and my prescriptions and you still have to go to the pharmacy and get and give the medicine, but God is in control. sometimes He concerns Himself with the tiny details of things - have you looked at your child lately and wondered how he/she started as a sperm and egg and ended up with ten fingers and ten toes and an attitude? He 'formed that child in your womb' it says in psalms. but as a society, as a world pretty much to one degree or another, we've stopped believing in a God who does all this and takes care of both little and big things, and guess who that leaves to handle everything? us! and that's scary! so i understand from whence the anxiety comes. listen to the world. read the world's opinions on things. but think of yourself as looking from sort of a google earth perspective, looking from a distance, and realize that you aren't in control and then be very grateful that you aren't supposed to be in control. and be very thankful that i'm not in control. i'm constantly looking to God, believe it or not, because i am very aware of my lack of control over things. regardless of what the world's wisdom tries to tell you, man's greatest wisdom is foolishness to God. if you can reset your worldview, and i have to do it daily, and recognize that we're all here because He wants us to be, and we're all doing what He would have us be doing, you will sleep easier tonight. you won't worry so much about sleep position and introducing solid food and bisphenol a and melamine and autism, you'll be more content with the stuff you've got to do, like the mundane 'get up, feed the baby, change the diaper, clean up the spitup, take a shower...repeat'.
in over 20 years of practice i've seen the number of concerns rise exponentially. it's amazing what people can be concerned about. some are given to this mentality from the start, and that's almost understandable, but sad, but many otherwise confident people become overconcerned lunatics where their children are concerned.
to summarize: i see myself as the pilot. i have the training, the expertise, and the skills to do the job for which i've been called, and for which i've been hired by my patients' parents. most have picked me from a very good lineup of possibilities, so that says hopefully that my expertise is appreciated somewhere. i know Who is in the real pilot's seat. He's not my copilot, by the way, i always thought that was a very prideful statement.
i don't begin to think i know everything. as my daughter, who is a first year med student, was told as her year started, 'half of what we teach you will be wrong in the future, we just don't know which half'. i understand that sentiment completely and could state it categorically at each visit. anyone who says or even thinks he/she knows it all at any given moment is seriously deluded and should be avoided. i have opinions, i have experiences that have taught me certain things i hold as truths, sort of like the pilot keeping the plane in the air and landing it safely. i also have areas where i question myself, my thoughts and practices, my feelings about how to accomplish certain goals and whether or not those goals are even important. much like the pilot who could choose more than one route from new york to los angeles, he has flown many of them many times and has picked the one he thinks is best based on his experience and guidelines he must follow. the takeoff and landing he knows will not differ much from airport to airport but the air in between could be clear or choppy or downright turbulent. in my case i 'take off' with many of you each time a new baby comes. 'landing' is way in the future, so we're stuck with all the air in between, and for the most part, as long as we don't crash, it's going to be fine. the time from takeoff to landing will differ, the route taken will differ, the pilot (with trust in a God who is in ultimate control) knows that he's going to get them where they're going in the best shape and in the best time possible. but the passengers must trust the pilot when he says 'sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight'.

3 comments:

the.fortes said...

Amen and thank you! As a once confident person turned overconcerned lunatic this post was tremendously helpful. I keep trying to tell myself to chill out. When our baby was born, I was calm...the first several weeks it got a little worse...when we moved it got way worse and I got to the point where his whole little life (and mine) were so out of sorts that it just stressed me out. There are so many forces out there telling parents they aren't good enough, don't care enough, must always do everything for baby and forget themselves completely that it is just overwhelming. Magazines, tv (which I don't watch), parents of the parents, the list goes on. Now with all of this media (like a previous post) coming at us with theories and garbage, we can't just get back to the basics of parenting: loving, caring, teaching, and learning.

Andrea said...

Inspiring post!

Sarah said...

I am thankful to have to you piloting the medical field for us! I can honestly say that I have thanked God for you many times in my girls young life. And I pray for you also.

I dread the day my girls want to go the female doctor...although it looks like your daughter might be lining up to take the helm. (Can I say 'helm' after an airplane analogy?)