I had it all planned out I tell you, and it was a thing of beauty. I knew exactly what I was going to do in August and what I was going to write for this column as well. But then a little something came up that I hadn’t planned and knocked all my plans into a cocked hat.
That little something was, so I am told, atypical pneumonia, and five nights at Parker Regional Hospital.
Now I’ve spent a lot of time in hospitals. As a pastor I’ve visited hundreds of people in many different hospitals. Sometimes it was a joyful occasion like the birth of a child or an operation that cured a problem someone had. At other times it was not so joyful but eventually the people went home. And on occasion I’ve stood watch with friends and families as a loved slowly, quietly, passed from this life into the next one.
So I knew a lot about hospitals and the people who work in them. I’ve had doctors and nurses in the churches I’ve served and know what an extremely difficult job they do. I’ve admired their spirit and their willingness to work incredibly long hours and endure great strain to help serve and heal others.
Yes, I knew a lot about hospitals, but in all those years I had never actually been a patient in one. Until I was checked into Parker Regional for a while that is. This experience changed my view of hospitals quite a bit.
And I’m not taking about the bill either – that story isn’t quite done yet!
My experience of being a patient gave me an entirely different perspective. Now I was the one feeling lousy, “dressed” (if you can call it that) in those horrible little robes they give you. I spent a lot of time during those five days trying hard not to become the Flasher Pastor in Parker, and believed I succeeded. I was the one who needed the help, surrounded by a lot of people who did their best to help me.
Now I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of blood tests, IVs, X-rays, MRIs and all the rest. I finally learned just how uncomfortable those hospital beds really are. You have no idea how grateful I was to finally get back to my bed at home!
There’s a word in the Greek New Testament that means ‘knowledge by experience’. That’s the kind of learning I did during my five days at Parker Regional, and while painful I know it’s going to help make me a better person and pastor as time goes on.
I did learn a lot by experience that’s for sure. One of the things I learned was what an amazing staff we have at Parker Regional. They were unfailingly cheering, helpful and did their best to make sure I was being cared for as well as possible. There’s a real sense of teamwork among the staff there. They work together well and as far as I could see always strive to put the patient first, which is just as it should be.
They set a shining example of the power of serving others. When people are in need and you can help them, there are few things more meaningful than being a servant. The staff and leadership at Parker Regional Hospital help not only to heal us, but to set us a great example of serving those in need. We’re lucky to have such a fine organization in our little town here in the desert.
We can’t all be doctors, but we can all be servants. If you are looking for meaning and purpose in your life, I can think of few things better than opening your heart up to serve others. I’ve served people who lived near me, and I’ve worked in a lot of needy places filled with poor people on the other side of the world.
I can tell you that in the end, no matter where you find yourself, being a servant to others is one of the most meaningful things you could ever do with your life.
If you’d like to respond to me, you’ll find me on Twitter: @LouieFMarsh.