Medicine, like Life, is complicated and has many disciplines ranging from childbirth to infectious disease and geriatrics, and often plays a role in our lives from birth to death, with no two people alike; even basic anatomy can change from one body to the next. To "practice" a profession was first recorded in 1421 (1), and because life and medicine are so complicated, we don't just haphazardly"do" them; they are, at best, practiced. I penned this little quote a few years ago when I had, once again, fallen short and began feeling like there was no longer hope or purpose in my life.
In medicine and life, there are many disciplines or stages. As we travel blindly through our struggles, adversities, and experiences, we grow our capacity to endure hardships. Enduring these hardships allows us to, in a way, level up. Many lives were lost; throughout the years to the practice of medicine. These doctors and practitioners of every kind didn't simply lose a life and quit their professions. Imagine the knowledge we would have lost or wasted medically! Instead, they learned from the failures, studied carefully the things that had occurred, and then applied new principles and practices. In this magnificent way, every life lost contributed to hundreds of thousands of lives saved. They've become heroes and most likely don't even know it. How shocked they'll someday be when those hundreds of thousands come to them in gratitude! Our Savior goes by many beautiful names. My favorite is, of course, the Great Physician or Healer. Mark 2;17, Exodus 15;26 Isaiah 53;5.
In the medical profession, we practice under, The Hippocratic Oath. This "oath" of ethics; was historically taken by physicians. It is one of the most widely known Greek medical texts. In its original form, it requires a new physician to swear, by several healing gods, to uphold specific ethical standards (2). This oath was long and complicated to interpret the most important of the text was, "Practice two things in your dealings with disease: either help or do not harm the patient" Nowadays, when speaking about the Hippocratic oath, most health professionals understand it to mean, Do no harm. In life, we've been provided the "10-Commandments" that are very specific. These commandments encourage us to "do no harm" to each other, among other things.
As we walk our paths, we often look around and measure our lot to others within our view. As I have walked my difficult path, I have pled my case to anyone that would listen to me! How is this fair? Why is her life so much easier than mine? And why me? These were some of my favorite questions to ask. People had different answers to these questions, though many of those answers didn't help my suffering. Neal A. Maxwell once said, "During our mortal schooling in submissiveness, we will see the visible crosses that some carry, but others' crosses will go unseen. A few individuals may appear to have no trials at all, which, if it were so, would be a trial in itself. Indeed, if, as do trees, our souls had rings to measure the years of greatest personal growth, the wide rings would likely reflect the years of greatest moisture-but from tears, not rainfall". After many years, I've seen that these words by Neal A Maxwell are indeed true. We cannot know what another is enduring. Thus the comparison is unfair to both the person judged and the one doing the judging.
When Christ was eating with the publicans and sinners, the Pharisees felt the need to question him about it. In Mark 2;17 His response was: "When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, they that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Our Savior's response is a beautiful reminder that Living truly is meant to be practiced and that he has made intercession for our failures. Life was never meant to be done perfectly, with only one exception, and that one exception was and is our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Sometimes the most difficult, outspoken, and challenging among us are that way as a result of prior experiences. Some of those experiences may be due to others, some may be due to personal choices, and others may appear to have no reasoning. As we practice living, adversity seeks to make something of us. With adversity as a tutor, we can choose the opportunity to gain wisdom. When we die, wisdom and knowledge will be the only things we will take with us. Because of this truth, knowledge, and wisdom should be considered the most valuable things we can attain. Remember, WE decide what comes of this adversity. WE will choose what and if we learn anything along the way. "You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, It may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it."― Maya Angelou.
I've seen many, many difficult things in the medical profession. Without my faith, it would be easy to question the reality of a God. Because I endured a lot of adversity at a young age, I almost instinctively knew the truth behind these words by Neal A Maxwell, "God, as a loving Father, will stretch our souls at times. The soul is like a violin string: it makes music only when it is stretched. . . God will tutor us by trying us because He loves us, not because of indifference!". Time after time, I would witness abuses, traumas, or unfair circumstances at the hands of another. The pain and grief I would experience sometimes burned hot enough to sear my soul. Anger can burn hot enough, at times, to wipe clear the conscience and common sense of a very loving and gentle soul. In these soul-stretching moments, it is imperative to be willing to give it to God. It's a choice. This choice moves us into a place of faith, and faith endured well will bring clarity and wisdom with time. Our fragile human condition would choose anger, rage, and numbness. Many have chosen those long and twisted paths. Choosing faith is trusting God's plan, purposes, and timing in all things.
Faith is watered and nourished by prayer. Faith is to our souls what knowledge is to a physician. Without an education, a physician is nothing short of a fraud. Prayer is so many things. It is existence for me; it's breath. We wouldn't walk into our doctor's appointment and tell him all the great things going on in our lives, the ways we're healthy and feeling great. So with prayer, we shouldn't just tell pretty stories; we should pour out our grief and failures. Tell on ourselves and plead for understanding. Beg to be better. Prayer for us should be a deep cleansing, a whispered hope. We pour out our hearts, and when we feel that the next beat won't come, we reach for him with but a whisper to fill us up. I have stood in ashes, rubble, and disbelief that I could ever be built back to what I had once been, and he has rebuilt me in the short span of 45 minutes. Prayer is the miracle brought about by sore knees, honest tongues, and stretched souls. Let faith be your tutor.
Let us strive to be as loving, compassionate, and long-suffering with ourselves as we tend to be with others. Understand that, like medicine, we're practicing living. Mother Teresa has said, "Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. Life is beauty, admire it. Life is a dream, realize it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a duty, complete it. Life is a game, play it. Life is a promise, fulfill it. Life is sorrow, overcome it. Life is a song, sing it. Life is a struggle, accept it. Life is a tragedy, confront it. Life is an adventure, dare it. Life is luck, make it. Life is too precious, do not destroy it. Life is life, fight for it". I lend my voice to hers and reaffirm that life is precious! Seek to be kind and brighten the lives you're blessed to touch. Most importantly, seek to love yourself, brighten your life, and be kind to yourself. The world needs you, and wisdom awaits!
(1) "What Is the Practice of Medicine?" by Harry B. Hutchins repository.law.umich.edu/articles/1039/
(2) Wikipedia Hippocratic oath: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippocratic_Oath