It’s been a busy week. I’ve been feeling quite run down and as my city’s in turmoil with a major arts festival, the noise at night has pretty much ruled out the chance of a good nights sleep.
My new GP practise is…….kind of hard, actually. The staff aren’t really that welcoming, and just really don’t have any love for what they do. General practise can be demoralising, particularly since the changes to the NHS mean that it really is made to focus on running as a business, not a service, and resultantly, there’s a lot of box-ticking and back-covering. I can see how it really can seem like it’s just day after day of conveyer-belt healthcare, with constant streams of patients, many of whom aren’t always very respectful and in some cases are downright rude (WHY can’t I have a sickline? Who are you to say I’m not ill!- err – that’s what doctors do, and you are not ill enough to need one!). Two of them also had some fairly harsh things to say about patients with mental health problems, which I find hard to listen to – both as a ‘patient’ but also as someone who gets fed up of the stigma and the lack of interest from many health practitioners. Antidepressants aren’t just ‘smartie placebos’ – and though I do think that they are handed out too much as an easy option, when the best treatment for mild to moderate cases is a course of psychotherapy, which has such huge waiting lists and is so underfunded, a prescription that costs about a pound a week suddenly looks enticing, and for many people, they do work. They do get people through a rough patch. They do get people sleeping again. I’m not saying they’re wonder drugs – but they’re not just a waste of space – and if doctors think they are, then they should be more active in campaigning for better alternatives. If you don’t like something, you should work to change it. People who put down, and complain, but do not act, get my goat. I need to be more accepting.
I’m trying really hard to be positive, but it’s hard, when I find myself disagreeing with the doctor I’m mostly attached to – he just doesn’t seem to care about patients and is a bit sloppy. He’s going to be assessing my consulting skills, so I need to get my head around being able to look and learn from him – but at times, I think he’s a complete eejit. At least I’m learning how I don’t want to do things – which is often valuable in itself, if slightly infuriating. I’ve got another three weeks, and in that time am hoping that it’s just first week blues, and things will pick up as the staff get to know me more, and I them, but it could be a hard slog, and after this I’m off to surgery for a month and I am so not a surgeon type, so it’s not even as though my next placement is something to really look forward to…
I talked at the LD group yesterday, on Zaccheus, after being invited for tea beforehand with the man who leads both my group, and the one I was speaking with. This man is so lovely – he’s got such a huge heart for these people, and is probably the best example of a Christian I will ever come across. Getting to know him and his wife is lovely – I’m pretty sure it’s the first time I’ve been invited to dinner with non-students in my entire time at university. They are honestly so full of love for the lord that I think they might actually explode at some point! Anyway – the talk was a bit mixed as a lot of the group didn’t come, and the ones who were there, were more towards the lower end of ability – and I realised that they probably wouldn’t quite engage with what I’d written, which was pitched more at my group’s level, who are slightly higher functionning (living in sheltered accommodation and holding small, unskilled jobs, as opposed to needing round the clock care). This was a bit nervewracking – but I just went for it and sort of changed my style from a more standard preach, to more of a story-telling structure (with voices – oh yes). It seemed to go ok.
Sometimes I think that with these groups, and even with church as a whole to some extent, it’s not actually the ‘gospel’ bit or the preaching that’s important – it’s the community we build that really enables people to grow. You can have as many theology degrees under your belt, you can have read the Bible umpteen times, but if you’re not in a community that show you and guide you, and support you in your faith and life, what sort of Christian life do you have? With both my group, and the one I visited, the part I love the most is the sharing of people’s weeks over coffee at the end – I really love seeing our members being supportive and caring towards each other and taking charge of a small task like putting sugar in tea or handing round the biscuits – but a lot of them don’t get much chance to help in their homes, or don’t feel confident doing so. I love listening to them pray aloud (something I struggle with still) and hearing their faith in their voices. It makes me think about all the emphasis on the ‘greatest and the least’ in scripture – these people I love, they lead small lives, by many definitions, but they are still such rich lives.
Sometimes I sort of wonder if I’m pushing myself enough by helping with yet another LD group or cause – which I’ve done on some level since I was a young teen, helping with the support base at the local primary school. It’s an area I feel comfortable with – thought sometimes I wonder if I should be throwing my mission hook elsewhere in another area that I’m less familiar with. I find it so easy to love my group, and others like it – but should I be seeking out people I find it harder to love, to see Jesus in? Should I be actively trying to think where I need to learn to see differently, on a practical level? On the other hand, I know I can’t just chase after every single good cause I hear of (though I do try…..there’s that restless spirit again) and that finding an area I love and feel comfortable in, is such a blessing in its own right. I guess, only time will tell – I’m 23, after all. I’ve got plenty of time to do stuff. There’s no rush. Sometimes I need to slow down.
And after a week of being completely unable to get that Zaccheus song out of my head, if you have been similarly afflicted, please accept my most sincere apologies…xx