Working in the ED was nonstop, crazy, no matter how hard and fast you worked, it just seemed like the waiting room was only getting deeper and deeper. Don’t get me wrong. I loved my job...for the most part. I loved the trauma, really sick ones, the challenge, staying busy, helping those who were in great need of comfort, help, doing anything from saving lives, to comforting during loss. I don’t miss the physical and verbal abuse, the most ridiculous things, or driving in that crazy weather for hours during a blizzard/ice storm. I made lasting friendships, a bond so strong that my coworkers feel like family. Working nightshift in the busiest ED in PA took its toll. The things we experienced and witnessed, things you can’t talk about to anyone and how no one understands unless they have worked and experienced it too. Doing CPR on babies, having to hug the parents as you tell them that despite everything you did, their baby still died. Telling someone they have cancer that is everywhere and only have a few months to live. Pulling someone out of a car and doing CPR immediately. Gunshots. Stabbings. Massive brain bleeds. Starting IVs on someone who says they don’t have any veins or are a hard stick. Vomiting. Diarrhea. GI bleeds. Seizures. Death threats from patients. And the list goes on.
There’s a lot of things that I was a part of, witnessed, experienced, that affected me, some things more deeply than others. You can’t experience all of that and not feel anything. We had to put all those emotions aside to be able to continue our shift. But at some point, you have to feel. Whether it’s after the shift, or years later, you have to process it.
I worked at Reading for 7 years, 12 hour nights. I’ve been living in Guatemala for a few weeks shy of 2 years. Ever since I have been living here, I have been slowly processing everything I experienced at work, in my personal life, and transitioning to being a full time missionary. I honestly never realized how much I’ve experienced and how it deep down affected me. But I’m slowly healing from so many things. Ever since we started ministry together once I moved, we’ve experienced a ton! We have kids with us, kids’ club, youth group, clinics, teams, construction projects, soccer, preparing to open a coffee shop, getting married and adjusting to our new lives together, and a bunch of trials and tribulations.
Lately, Peter and I have been talking more about needing to take more time to slow down, allow time for ourselves, together, and as a family. Everyone has been saying it. I’ve been seeing it everywhere in the book I’m reading right now, verses that pop out, etc. And we knew it. But you know how ministry just doesn’t stop? It’s a 24/7 lifestyle. And you just kind of have to get to the point where it sinks in that you truly do need to slow down and take more breaks. We literally get calls and messages at all hours. This life a marathon, not a sprint. So we are going to make a conscious effort to take more breaks. Take more time for ourselves, together, and as a family. We need to fill ourselves up to be able to pour out to others. When I was in Africa 2 years ago, we met an amazing guy who was our driver while there. Something he said really stuck with me: we have to fill up our own cups first before we can give to others. Once our cups are filled and overflow, it’s the part that overflows that we can use to pour into others.
So even as ministry is growing, we want to make a conscious effort to fight for that time we need for ourselves, together, and as a family so that we can better pour into our ministry, the people here who need help. We greatly appreciate everyone’s support, wisdom, guidance, encouragement, and prayers. And yes, ministry will continue to grow, especially as this new coffee shop starts. But we are going to do our best to make the choice and fight for down times, which are much needed to thrive. Might not always be anything long or fancy. But even going out for a walk, getting some hot chocolate, sitting and talking for a bit, or whatever it is that we can do is better than nothing. So that’s what we’re going to do to build our relationship stronger than ever with God, each other, and our family. I encourage you to do the same with your crazy, busy lives. Find even just a few minutes each day or week to slow down, fill up your cup, and be refreshed. Renewed.