By Loren Hardin –
When I arrived at Robert’s home to evaluate whether or not he was a candidate for hospice services, he was prepared with a battery of questions. He asked, “Does hospice do blood transfusions? If not then I’m not signing up.” I explained, “Like with many things in hospice, it depends. It depends upon the reason and how effective the treatment is. As long as the transfusions are significantly enhancing your quality of life or comfort we will do them. But if your hemoglobin level drops back down dramatically a couple days afterward, then we will be having another conversation.” Robert responded, “Then sign me up!” Robert was only 50 years old with end-stage rectal cancer when we signed him up.
During one of my routine visits Robert ranted, understandably so, about his attending physician, “I told him that the medication that he is giving me isn’t working, but he told me to take it anyway. He’s not listening to me. I know my body better than he does and I’m the only one with a vested interest in it. I’m not doing what he says. A lot of people just do what people tell them to do, but not me. What we need are more free thinkers!”
Harry Chapin, singer songwriter, was inspired to write the song, “Roses are Red”, after his secretary showed him her 10-year-old son’s report card. On it was written a note from his teacher, “Your son marches by a different drummer, but don’t worry, we’ll have him joining the parade by the end of the term.” Chapin wrote: “Little boy went first day of school; he got crayons and started to draw. He put color all over the paper for color was what he saw. And the teacher said, what you doing young man?’ I’m painting flowers he said. She said, it’s not time for art young man; and anyway flowers are green and red. There’s a time for everything young man and a way it should be done. Flowers are red young man and green leaves are green and there’s no need to see flowers any other way than the way they always been seen, there’s ways that things should be, so repeat after me.”
A.W. Tozer, pastor and author, wrote in “The Keys to the Deeper Life”: “scarcely anyone appears to have the discernment or the courage to turn around and lean into the wind even though the truth may easily lie in that direction. The voice of the turtle dove was rarely heard in the land, instead the parrot sat on its artificial perch and dutifully repeated what it had been taught to say and the whole emotional tone was somber and dull. Faith, a mighty vitalizing doctrine in the mouth of the apostles, became in the mouth of the scribes another thing altogether and power went from it. As the letter triumphed the Spirit withdrew. It was the time of the believers Babylonian Captivity and the resultant experience wholly mental. Christians were once revolutionists, moral, not political. But we have lost our revolutionary character.”
Robert and A.W. Tozer were “free thinkers”, but what about us? Are we willing to “lean into the wind” when we believe that “the truth may easily lie in that direction”? Or do we just sit on our “artificial perches” and “dutifully repeat what we have been taught to say”? Have we become tame, domesticated and sophisticated? Have we lost our revolutionary character?
Are we willing to think outside the box and color outside the lines? Or like the little boy’s teacher do we say, “there’s no need to see flowers any other way than the way they always have been seen.” I’ll never forget what our director, Teresa, said after we visited several inpatient hospice centers in preparation for building our own. I pointed out that I didn’t like how the outpatient and inpatient staffs didn’t cooperate and collaborate on care planning. Then Teresa responded, “New models are made every day”. You can understand why I intermittently ask Teresa, “If you ever plan on leaving hospice, will you please give me a 20-minute head start.”
My good friend, Jerry, once told me, “I have a fear of being normal”, but I assured him he didn’t have anything to worry about. But many of us have a fear of being abnormal, of not fitting in. But let’s not allow the fear of what others may think, say or do, keep us from leaning into the wind. But on the flip side, in the words of Oswald Chambers, “Don’t make the mistake of using your life as a template for someone else’s. Allow God to work in the lives of others with the same creativity that He has in yours. (My Utmost for His Highest)
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)
Loren Hardin is a social worker with SOMC-Hospice and can be reached at (740) 357-6091 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can order Loren’s book, “Straight Paths: Insights for living from those who have finished the course” at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.