This doctor defines himself as a Christian, not a physician


What is life? It’s the cumulation of the daily processes all wrapped up into one, filling the void of each day. These processes coalesce hour by hour, filled with demands, expectations, current crisis, and bills to pay. Life is a full-contact sport, each hour brimming with all-encompassing activities, expectations, and trivial pursuits. We live every second to its fullest, squeezing every ounce of information and productivity only to repeat it the next day in an almost robotic fashion.

This exhausting pursuit is how we are hardwired, groomed, or molded by societies’ demands and technology’s never-ending advancements. But, what if our modern life, our relentless pursuits get in the way of truly living? Could our daily lives get in the way of truly living? You always hear the statement: “Don’t let life pass you by.” Seriously, how does that happen?

As an emergency physician, multitasking is a necessity for survival. Lives hang in the balance as I run from room to room, making often life or death decisions while performing complex procedures. We are constantly putting out fires while traversing the complex, ever-evolving frontier of health care. It’s an ever exhausting, ever fulfilling career filled with instant gratification and pain, intertwined with complex social and spiritual interactions. It’s my calling, my passion, and I’ll do it until my last breath. Emergency medicine, when stripped to its bare bones is no different than most professions. We all have these complex demands that collide with unexpected situations or social interactions all coalescing into what we call our day. Days become weeks, weeks become months, and months become years, defining the life we live. It’s a downhill, fast-paced cascade of pebbles that overtime cumulate into the bolder that defines our essence.

Humans have the innate ability to overthink, over-analyze, and complicate the obvious. We postulate, research, extrapolate, and chemically engineer only to return to the basic concepts and call it innovative. Grass-fed beef is revolutionary, cane sugar is healthier than synthetics, and people are paying big money to go to an “oxygen bar.” A billion-dollar industry has emerged based on self-help and personal growth founded on the basic principles of integrity and diligence. In health care, as in most industries, we combat decision fatigue and burnout at alarming rates. What is the answer? We must get back to the basics in order to truly live.

What defines you? Why do you do what you do? What motivates you to put on your shoes each morning and traverse the path of your career. Looking beyond societies’ obvious economic factors lies the deeper question that must be answered in order to live and gain fulfillment truly. Keeping up with the fast pace of life without understanding your true motivation is analogous to a hamster on a wheel, running with all you might and furry not understanding your path or trajectory only the concept of “I have to run, so I don’t fall down.” We’ve all had those moments of utter exhaustion, fatigue, and brokenness when we can go no further. When we are at the end of our ability to manufacture solutions. It was at the end of me that I found the solution on how to truly live.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says: “My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast more gladly of my weakness so that Christ’s power rests on me. This means that when we are at our end when we can go no more, and give over the reins of our life, our career, our family to God then we can truly live our lives.

Personally speaking, it was when I gave over the reins of my career that I understood how to live. I was no longer defined by being a physician, but rather a Christian. As Christians, we are called to be His ambassadors. Christ was a leader that emulated servitude. As an ambassador, we are to be a direct reflection of him. How we live our lives and approach our careers, understanding that we may be the only reflection of Christ that someone ever sees. Our witness or impact may not be what we say or what we do but how we do it. Being an emergency physician is not who I am but rather a vehicle of serving his purpose of reaching a hurting world. In Isaiah 1:17 it says we should Learn to do right, seek justice, defend the oppressed, take up the cause of the fatherless, and plead the case of the widow. This is how I view my Friday nights in a busy emergency department. This is how I pursue truly living my life, with a purpose, a calling.

Life is a cumulation of moments, cobblestones on the path to our ultimate destination. We have to harness those moments and realize that our mission may not lie at the destination but is rather sprinkled along the path in daily interactions. It’s these cobblestones that motivate us and inspire fueling the next day and laying the foundation for others as we pursue truly living.

Jeffrey McWilliams is an emergency physician who blogs at Advocates Of Excellence.

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