Dryness, and God transforming it to Gratitude (Cool!)

I have so much to be grateful for. Sometimes I even have my act sufficiently together to GIVE thanks for my fortunate life.

Today is one of those days.

I have been a staff pharmacist for all my career, having been licensed since 1993. Recently, one of the stores in my company had an opening for a managing pharmacist., and I took the position. Now, understand, my dad was a small-business man. I always took great delight in the fact that I took home a paycheck and left the risks and the headaches of the business to someone else. Well, this job is sort of like the best of both worlds. I assume very little risk. I have been given none of the usual expectations of hiring and firing, which could be unfortunate…

except…

part of the reason I’m feeling grateful tonight is because of my coworkers! We have fun, and get our work done, too. I learn so much from them.

I find that I go through spurts of confidence and drive that I am something of a leader, like at work, in the family, or in my church activities. This alternates with periods of lack of confidence (in a not-always-so-healthy way) where I feel crippled into silence by not feeling I have anything to contribute. But I’m also beginning to see these quieter periods in a healthier way; as nudges from God to sit back and pay attention to the wisdom of others. I begin to see DRY times where there is no “wise word” effortlessly gushing forth from my lips as blessings from God. They are unchosen pauses to shut my “brilliant” mouth and hear someone else out. Many times I am still “right.” (at the risk of sounding cocky, I actually do often have good insights and ideas, but I believe I’m at a turning point in my maturation as a human being that even when I have a good idea, my psyche and soul are broadened and deepened by sitting back and hear others better.) And then of course, there are other times where I do really change my mind about previously held ideas. In either event, I am enriched by the experience of waiting, and reserving judgment, and allowing my fellow human being to be fully heard. Especially when the one I’m speaking to is aware of my position, either due to authority role (as in boss or parent) or to age or experience. It is empowering to feel heard. It is life-giving to recognize and feel in your deepest heart that you have affected another in the opposite from expected direction of mentorship. I’m now old enough to have experienced both sides of that sort of relationship. Both are wonderful places to be. I guess I’m a consummate student.

Both of my techs have patients who love them and know them by name. One in particular is so friendly and nice, it’s almost to a fault at times. To a point where being so friendly to one patient keeps us from serving another.

This is complicated. I used to be that kind of tech/intern/young pharmacist. I learned hard lessons in making difficult choices of the use of my time from at times less-than-kind supervisors, about drawing boundaries, and doing the job I was paid to do, delegating some of the small talk to those lower on the payscale. <sigh> Those lessons hurt. In hindsight, I have tempered how I live them out to a point where I think somewhere in the middle is the best place to be…not so efficient as to miss the human interaction aspect, but not so chatty as to miss out completely on productivity and make other patients angry.

Once, as the manager, in order to be fair to other waiting patients, and the workload on myself and our other technician, I had to say something. It was time to end the friendly chit-chat with this one particular patient for the greater good of the other patients waiting. It’s not easy to tell a kind person to not be quite so friendly. (I mean of course I wasn’t THAT blunt, but that’s the general meaning that had to be conveyed. <sigh>) I hurt her feelings, I’m quite sure. She has forgiven me, I’m also quite sure, and I haven’t had to bring something like that up again. Yet. But I suspect I will one day. But it’s okay. Cuz at the end of the day we have a strong relationship, and we respect each other.

I’m thankful for that. But even more than that, I still learn things from her. And I’m a little ashamed to admit that I misjudged her, and discounted her worth as an employee, to say nothing of her far greater eternal worth as a human being until I was recently awakened. It wasn’t any one thing or act, but something more of a gradual realization and awakening. (That seems to be how God works in my life and mind. Gradual and subtle.)

The thing is, sometimes I get awakened to something I may have missed. And I’m fairly sensitive, but everyone has their blind spots. Usually, the thing I miss is nothing that would change an unpleasant decision where efficiency and boundaries need to exist, but inwardly leads me to see things about that patient with more compassion and understanding. These are humbling moments. These are times when my technicians teach me. I cringe in the moment (what, me proud? <sigh>) that these things happen, realizing I have been blind, but I am grateful for them in hindsight, and they make me realize that I need to be gentle and compassionate without rushing to judgment in how my tech operates and conducts herself with our needier patients. (I work in an environment with some definitely needy folks. Some are disabled, poor, addicted. This pharmacy moreso than in other pharmacies I’ve worked in for some demographic reason. My pharmacy’s neighborhood is one where many needy patients live.)

I maintain that ministry happens wherever you’re planted, not just the ones with fancy titles and roles that you seek out. It is the learning laboratory for being a compassionate human being; a grateful child of God. A gracious brother and sister to the other children of God all around us.

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