Second Day of Christmastide
A resident called me his mentor yesterday. I was a bit taken aback. Working with the chaplain residents, as they pursue a calling they are still uncertain about, has been a rewarding surprise. A few weeks ago, I asked one of the residents how I can help him. His response was, “Thank you for being my big sister. Keep doing it.” I don’t get told very often thank you for being my sister and it felt so incredible. I was wonderfully blessed by that statement and we have had many talks and moments of learning, for us both. This experience has been rewarding and yesterday was another day in which that reward became real.
The way the chaplaincy program is set up here gives the opportunity for residents to work directly under the staff chaplains. We are not their bosses, but more like coaches. As staff chaplains, we know what is needed in our specific areas and we have all been through residency. We have also been through that time of uncertainty, wondering if God was preparing us for a vocational call. I can’t speak on behalf of the other staff chaplains but for me, I take this role quite seriously and am honored to do so.
I didn’t have this type of connection during my residency. The residents covered the hospital. We were the ones that covered the duty and on-call schedule 24/7. Staff Chaplains, unless the individual helped, weren’t readily available and they certainly didn’t cover the on-call work. So unless the staff chaplain wanted to work individually with us, we were on our own.
I don’t want residents to have that same feeling, especially as they are new in this role. They are searching and learning. Chaplaincy is a tough and can be a brutal calling. You have to have a certain something (still not sure what that is) to be able to do it but when you do, the reward is a bountiful blessing, for everyone. Some days, it does come at a cost. Your relationships suffer and if you are not careful, you can suffer too. That’s why residents need someone who knows what they are going through. At the moment, three residents work with me. They have varying backgrounds. I have developed relationships with them. We meet regularly, sit together to talk, shadow one another, hang out in our offices, and they are seeking counsel of how to make this residency worthwhile for their work and calling.
Yesterday was a gift. One resident was talking to his wife and I was laughing in the background about something. I heard him say to his wife, “That’s my mentor laughing.” First, does it really surprise anyone that his wife could hear my laughter on the phone? I mean, really? Second, this fresh young, recently graduated and ordained southern Baptist minister, called me his mentor. Wow.
How many times do ordained Southern Baptists men call a woman their mentor? I am working with him on building his trauma pastoral care skills, to be able to work with patients and families who have experienced all that comes with a trauma admission and stay. We are also working on what “project” he would like to build as he is here. Yes, we have different beliefs about ministry, about God, Jesus and about women in ministry, but we have a passion for caring.
The blessings of Christmastide can expand across theologies and break down personal beliefs. What an incredible journey.