They Make a Pill for That

I hate going to visit nursing homes.

And hospitals too.

I realize that, seeing as how I’m a pastor and all, this doesn’t make much sense.  It sort of makes me like the McDonald’s employee that can’t stand the smell of deep fried horse meat.  Some things are just part of the job.

Going to hospitals reminds me of my mother.  She was always sick.  Sometimes as a kid I had to stay with friends or other family members while she spent the night in a hospital bed.  Once I grew up it just got worse.  I never really felt weak in the knees before until the day that I saw her after her brain surgery.  That feeling never really left me.

Nursing homes remind me of the final months of my mom’s life.  My aunt and sister did a lot of the hard work in taking care of my mom when she got really sick.  But eventually it was more than they could handle.  She needed constant care.  Once, my sister called me from my mother’s room at the nursing home.  She had come for a visit and found that our mother had been severely neglected for what appeared to be hours.  Not all nursing homes are that way.  The one in my community is excellent.  But whenever I go to a nursing home, any nursing home, I think about that phone call.

I hate going to visit nursing homes.

And hospitals too.

I don’t know what a panic attack feels like.  At least I don’t think I do.  The feeling I get in hospitals and nursing homes has to be somewhere close to that feeling.  I usually keep my head down and stay close to the walls.

Some would say, “You know, they make a pill for that.”

And they would be right.  They, whoever they are, make a pill for everything.  Some of those pills do a lot of good at fixing a problem and some just do good at masking the problem.  So instead of a pill, I take a sheet of paper with me.

There’s nothing special about the paper.  It’s no different than a piece of paper one would find in any office.  What’s special to me is the message written on the paper.

Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the LORD!
Psalm 31:24 (ESV)

I preach that simple message to myself while I walk those halls that bring back so many painful memories.

Jay, you have strength in your Savior.

Jay, you can face your fear because of your Savior.

I used to have a lot of nightmares when I was a kid.  One night my mom told me to try reading my Bible and then sleeping with it under my pillow.  I stopped having nightmares.  A skeptical family member scoffed at the idea.

“That’s dumb.  Now you’ll have to carry your Bible with you wherever you go in case you get scared.”

Whether she knew it or not, that’s exactly what my mom was preparing me to do.

And I’m glad that she did.

I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
Psalm 119:15 (ESV)