The doctor walked out the room, frustration etched into the lines of his face.
“He can go now. He’s refusing to go to detox, but is heading over to his dealer as soon as he leaves.”
Rolling his eyes, he left me standing with a hand full of papers for this man now standing outside his room. He was tapping his foot and edging toward the exit.
As I tried to explain his discharge instructions, the patient refused to make eye contact, merely nodding his head and grabbing his papers as soon as I was done. “Are we finished here?” he asked as he started walking toward the door. “See you soon.”
I stood there and watched him go, not noticing the bandage covering his elbow until someone called down the hallway after him. “Wait, sir! You can’t leave with that.” Thankfully, they had seen the patient still had his IV in, and that needed to come out before he walked out into the world.
He kept walking, giving no indication he heard us. We caught up with him at the door, and he told us we would need to physically hold him if we wanted to take that IV out of his arm. His jaw clenched, he stared us down until security surrounded him.
Defiant in defeat, he pulled off the bandage and threw the IV in the trash. “Happy now?” he asked as blood dripped down his arm. I put some gauze over the hole where the IV had been as fire blazed from his eyes.
Through his clenched teeth, he growled, “It’s on you. When I get an infection from using a rusty needle ‘cuz I can’t afford clean ones, that’s on you.” Jerking his arm out of my hands, he stomped off through the door.
“Take care of yourself,” was the only thing I could think to say. As surly, rude, and frustrating as this man was, my heart broke a little.
How did he get here?
What happened to him that made him believe his only solution was to fill his veins with poison?
What were his “If only’s”?
If only this hadn’t happened. If only he hadn’t taken made that decision. If only, if only, if only.
I found myself thinking those same thoughts about the shooting in Texas. As the debates rage about gun control, I realize that the guns don’t matter. Whatever happened to his heart does.
What happened to this man to make him do the horrible things he did? What caused him to escape from a mental hospital? How could he ruin his career by abusing his wife and child? What demons were screaming through his brain as he walked through the church that Sunday morning?
I refuse to dehumanize these men, so connected in my consciousness. I refuse to label them monsters, addicts, or any other tag so frequently used in today’s society. I refuse to allow these men and women to become political fodder for pursuing a platform’s propaganda.
I retain my humanity through my choices. I retain my heart by loving as Jesus loved. I retain my peace by trusting in the One who is above it all, when everything around me seems to turn to crap.
Don’t give up your humanity by scraping it away from others. Find it by seeing it in those you don’t understand. Tear off the label and see the person.
Genesis 1:27 – So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Every person is made in the image of God---ask to see them as God sees them.
Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
How others treat me doesn’t matter—but I will own my response to them.
John 16:33 – These things I have told you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but take heart, I have overcome the world.
We will have trouble, trials, and struggles in this life—but my hope is placed in something greater than what I see.
Don’t diminish your pain by turning it into anger to be released on the closest or most convenient target. When the anger rises in your throat, when disgust and horror is all you see, when every muscle and emotion screams to lash out in self-defense and retaliation…
The only safe place to take our heart, full of pain and hurt, anger and fear, is to the One who overcame it all. When we take him our anguish, He helps us to sit with those who are hurt, weep with those who are weeping.
Look at Jesus. He wept. He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, breathing life back into his lifeless body. An amazing miracle. And right before He saw His friend, His heart ached with theirs, and His tears fell with those surrounding the tomb.
The more we label and dehumanize others, the less we can weep with them. The world is full of hurting people who don’t need instructions, judgement, or guidance. They just need someone to sit with them, in their mess, and love them. All of them.
May we all be filled with the love of God in this Christmas season to see the person behind the label, and love them anyway. After all, God already did that for us. How can we do any less to those around us?