A Doctor’s Vacation 1
August 31, 2021
“Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Mark 2:16b, NIV).
Family vacations for doctors can be disorienting, at least for me. There is often a mental and emotional chasm separating the intensity and profundity of practice and the environment into which a vacation throws me. Five days into a recent family vacation, I found myself in an amusement park with my grandkids—smiling faces everywhere, young girls laughing and holding hands, parents counting frantically to see that no child was lost, white-bearded men wearing “World’s Best Grandpa” tee-shirts, many nationalities, multiple orthodox religions mixed with people committed to hedonism—everyone happy with none worried about dying, or surgical complications, or cancer, and few likely to face such profundities before I reenter a battlefield overrun with them. I was definitely disoriented—and realized that this was normal life.
What do we do with the great divide between our time-pressured, biology-focused, life-impacting lives and the normal life that most people live on most days? How does the disconnect between our profession and ordinary life affect our faith and witness? Can we live among ordinary people in such a way that we understand their thoughts and dreams? Can we know how the gospel relates to the healthy and happy? And—do we really know how to enjoy a life that God created us to enjoy? If not, how can we get there?
Perhaps, some of us need to:
- Intentionally commit to enjoying life, not only for our own benefit, but for the benefit of our families and for the world to whom we witness.
- Regularly schedule dinners with non-medical friends.
- Honor the Sabbath, take more vacations, see more plays and attend more concerts.
- At each patient encounter, ask each patient a non-medical question and offer each a personal anecdote.
- Regularly read a biography, history, novel or fascinating non-fiction book.
Such actions are likely to improve our personal happiness, but, most importantly, they might bridge the chasm between our professional understanding of life and the lives of those to whom we are sent, so that our witness is based on a truer understanding of those with whom we seek to share the gospel.
Help me to know the people I serve, not only as their healer but as their friend.
Thank you Dr. Weir for your very helpful thoughts. For about twenty years I was an art teacher in a pupil referral school for young Mums, and also in addiction referral units using arts for health gain. I was also a non- executive director of an NHS mental health trust. Sadly I can really identify with the thoughts you have expressed about how to relate to the “real” world. Day after day in my teaching I saw and heard the stories of young girls who had lifestyles full of chaotic and harmful behaviour, or addicts who were in rehab. or during my time as a board member heard about the inadequacies of the mental health system the NHS was providing… After a time I think I started to look into everyone’s face with a kind of hesitancy and found it difficult to engage in simple joyful activities… I am retired now and using art to help raise awareness of pro life issues.