We powered through rounds this morning, knowing we needed to see all of our patients and carry out most of the work of the day before 1pm, so we could turn our attention to the outpatient trauma clinic. My team did a great job, changing dressings, ordering tests, talking with families, writing notes. Folks who were ready to go home had discharge instructions written and prescriptions printed in record time. And our hard working intern even found the time to make a run to Starbucks for us to fuel up for clinic…our caffeine titers were low.
We saw a dozen or so patients in the clinic. Most of them doing splendidly well. But somehow, the conversation in our little work area turned to the opioid problem in this country. Thankfully, the patients we saw today didn’t require extra opioids…they were healing and didn’t need them. The one patient who inquired about a refill was advised to switch to a non-opioid medication and he readily agreed that would work well for him since he didn’t like the way the Percocet made him feel anyway. Why? we asked, ourselves. Why do we feel this need to numb our lives with opioids? And our chief resident said, astutely, “I think there is a lot of hopelessness in this world.” I think he’s exactly right.
We live in a world of externally driven emotions. Emotions that are charged by media and the Internet, co-workers and neighbors, friends and family; by the Facebook “reactions” to our posts, our Twitter and Instagram followers; by the inflammatory and shocking things politicians say; by the inadequacy we feel when we compare ourselves to everyone around us. Someone else always has a better job/house/husband/child/car….life. We find ourselves desperate in isolation, shame, fear, frustration…hopelessness. Because somehow we confused feeling hopeful with being hopeful.
“Despite all my emotions, I will hope in God again. I will believe and praise the One who saves me and is my life, My Savior and my God.” Psalm 43:5 (The VOICE) I read this verse this morning and I was simply struck by the idea that hope isn’t just an emotion, it’s a choice. That, sometimes, I might not be feeling it, but I can choose to be hopeful for my future: for my relationships, for my job, for me. That I don’t always have to feel happy to choose joy; that I don’t always have to feel satisfied to choose contentment; that I don’t always have to feel excitement to choose hope. Emotions will come and go; they will carry us on a ride up and down. Emotions will have us flitting from one event/relationship/status to the next, always seeking the next emotion. But by choosing hope, the emotions will follow, instead of the other way around.
So I will choose hope, to look forward to all that is to come; to believe that my future is brighter than my past; to trust that my choices are stronger than my emotions. I will choose hope in the One who will save me, who is my Savior, no matter how I feel.Disclaimer: My viewpoints are not necessarily reflective of my employer, or any local, regional or national organization that I belong to. As a matter of fact, I pretty much just speak for myself. Please keep that in mind.