You would think that after (more or less) 10 years of practicing medicine overseas, nothing would faze me anymore. Seen it all, done it all. There's something to be said for that...I rarely get nervous about OR cases anymore, and I have more and more anecdotal stories to support my (lack of) evidence for why I come up with a treatment plan. Yes, now I'm that doctor! Still, at least once a week or so my colleagues and I gather around and one of us will assert, "I've never seen THAT before." Usually it's some sort of weird and bizarre medical pathology that we can't figure out.
But recently, I also had an experience that produced no small amount of stress in my life. Surprisingly, it was just a normal pregnancy and what promised to be a relatively straightforward delivery. A couple from the capital city came and wanted to deliver here at Kibuye. I haven't managed a normal straightforward pregnancy and delivery in years. Of course that's not to say I can't do it, but from the moment they decided to come up here, months in advance, a little seed of fear and doubt planted itself in the back of my brain. Ten years of bad outcomes started floating up to the surface of my consciousness. The weight and burden of responsibility fell heavy on my shoulders. In short, I mistakenly thought that the outcome was totally dependent on...me.
The day arrived. The baby looked great on ultrasound and monitoring. Labor was moving along. And yet I couldn't eat. I couldn't focus on anything else. There were a million scenarios and contingency plans going around in my brain.
That very morning, I had been reading from Psalm 37 in Tim Keller's "The Songs of Jesus." Psalm 37 starts out: "Do not fret." Keller's commentary followed with:
"Fretting is a common activity of our age. It is composed of worry, resentment, jealousy, and self-pity. It is dominant online. It chews us up inside while accomplishing nothing. David gives us three practical remedies....look forward....look upward...get busy with the things that must be done--do good."
The words, although apropos for my day, didn't sink in until quite a bit later. I was worrying about things I couldn't control and wasn't responsible for. Yes, I could do my job and do it well, but ultimately God was in control of this situation. Worry was chewing me up, and accomplishing nothing.
Well, to make a long story short, everything was fine. The baby came so fast in the end that my nurse delivered her practically on the floor of the delivery room. Everyone was happy and healthy. I walked home after dark with the moon peeking through the clouds, the air cool and fresh after a rain, and breathed deeply in thanksgiving. I thought back to Psalm 37. Looking forward...this world is not the end, and our stories are not finished yet. And what lies ahead is far better than what has already happened. Looking upward...to the God who knows our hurts and fears and not only welcomes our true feelings but loves us just the same. And finally, doing good. For me, I am realizing that inside my brain, where I process and reprocess everything, can be a dangerous place. Sitting on my bed ruminating about my latest problem helps nothing. Getting up and thanking God for his presence and his provision need to be my first step, redirecting fretting to praise. "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him." --Psalm 37:7