It’s a question I get all the time in the office. How did you end up here in Idaho? It’s a loaded question with a huge back story. But in short, I’ll state it this way: I awoke to the power of sacrificial love.
In my last year of family medicine residency I was interested in looking at various physicians and how they practiced. In particular I was curious as to how some physician incorporated what I call medical ministry into their practice. How did they pray with patients? How did they facilitate spiritual conversations?
My sister told me to check out this clinic in Northern Idaho where workers were paid a low wage. I told her it didn’t sound like a place where people wanted to work. As I would soon find out, people actually wanted to work at this clinic. My curiosity was piqued and a few months later I landed in Idaho for a two week rotation.
This rotation was completely different than anything I had ever done. The attending physician of this clinic picked me up himself from the airport and invited me to stay with him and his family for the entire rotation. I was given a place at the dinner table during meals. On the day I arrived we spent three hours talking about his unique ways of practicing medicine. Three hours!
He also informed me of things he wanted me to focus on during the rotation. Not on medical textbooks or research or presentations, but on caring for myself. He wanted to make sure I took the time to be connected with God in the morning. He told me I needed exercise. He emphasized the importance of eating a good breakfast.
When I expressed my concern of showing up late because of so many morning activities, he told me my well-being was his first priority. It was okay for me to show up late to work if I necessary.
I was overwhelmed by how much this man cared for me. And I had just met him. I didn’t know it then, but this act of love was one of the many things that moved me to make a life changing decision.
How do we love someone so they are so moved to make a life changing decision? How can we love to maximize impact? I glean three lessons from my experience.
1. Show extraordinary kindness without expecting favors in return. I was a mere resident. I had little to nothing to offer his practice. Yet this man took me into his home with his family. He gave me a place at the table. He spent time with me when most people would not.
2. Find the most pressing need and meet it. I was a stressed out, almost-burned-out resident doctor. This man saw this and gave me the space to recover by allowing me proper sleep, exercise and quiet time.
3. When an act of kindness costs something, it is more appreciated. When someone spends three hours with me, I know they have given a large portion of their day they will never get back. When someone gives me space to recover from stress, even if it means extra work to arrange a ride for me to work because of being late, I am moved. When I see the cost of the act of kindness, it is far more valued.
I hope I can be a person who can maximize impact by loving in these ways.
Can you think of a time when someone treated you with such lavish kindness that it changed the way you live? Let me know in a comment.
For the next blog, I’ll share what simultaneously brought inspiration and fear into my heart and how this compelled me to move to Idaho.