Keep the past in the past

I can always tell how busy I am by how often I end up sitting here, writing a blog entry. Clearly, this week was so busy that I managed to only post twice. It’s not that I haven’t thought about posting, or even that I haven’t had things to say. For some reason, other things have gotten in the way. Mainly, sleep. By the time I finish everything I need to accomplish for the day, the enticement of falling asleep is too good to pass up. I am trusting that, despite my lack of presence in the online blog world, the internet will continue on. Albeit, not as interesting, but it will continue. <pause for eye rolling>

So by and large, the week was a good one. As with many in the workforce, I periodically have issues with coworkers. You might think it odd, a chaplain having personality conflicts with people, but, I am human. Said coworker, was, in fact, another chaplain. We chaplains seem to always be in the midst of some sort of conflict with someone, whether it be the management, each other, or patients. I have no idea why that is, but whenever we get together, someone has a burr up their behind about something.

I have the unfortunate good luck of being the most recent addition to the team, if you call a year and a half recent. I’ve pretty much integrated myself well into the organization, and recently have realized that my nurse, social worker and management colleagues have also accepted me. In fact, I’ve been getting more patient referrals in the past several weeks than I have in the past year. That’s a good thing!

Anyway, despite my good rapport with my interdisciplinary colleagues, we chaplains do not work together often, if at all. Basically, the organization splits us up among the established nursing teams, and our paths never cross. This week though, we needed to come together to discuss vacation scheduling and to work on a project. I took the lead in organizing the meeting and once together, allowed others to take over with the agenda.

What I thought would be a lighthearted, easy get together turned quickly to the opposite when one of my colleagues exclaimed, “I don’t know why we have to talk about vacations. It’s not our responsibility to make sure things are taken care of.” The silence was palpable. I decided to overlook this animosity toward management, and continue with reviewing the calendar. Said coworker again voiced her irritation, then began talking to the colleague next to her. As there were only four of us in the room, that left myself and the remaining colleague to just look at each other in confusion. For the next several minutes, we were basically ignored because our colleague refused to talk about scheduling. I felt like I was at home with my teenagers!

Eventually, as the meeting progressed, I decided it was in my best interest to stand my ground and get what I needed from the meeting…since…I WAS THE ONE WHO CALLED IT. My colleague continued to voice her annoyance until I finally said, “I am hearing you say you do not feel it necessary to do this, but I do. For my own organization, I need to make sure everything is covered and I am not going to get a call one day saying you’re off, which will throw my schedule into disarray. If you don’t want to write anything down, that’s your choice.” Her response? “Well I’m sorry you feel you have to have that information.” WHAT???

My response to her was to tell her what days I would be off, because it would be she who would cover for me, and if she chose not to writer the dates down, I was not going to remind her, because that’s what this meeting was for. She said that if she decided to take those particular days off as well, management would just have to deal with it. Again, WHAT??? Talk about doing your best to be a b**ch. She then went on to say that “We never had to worry about this before, so why are you doing this now?” I replied that we had done the same thing last year, and reminded her that I had sent out calendars to everyone with our vacation times listed and who was covering. Her response? “Well, I wasn’t talking about last year, I was talking about years ago.”  Uh huh. Yeah.

By that time, I was thoroughly done with this attitude. I politely asked her, “Why are you focusing on what happened so far in the past? We are here, right now, and shouldn’t we find a way to make things easier moving forward? What’s the point of dwelling on the past?” She had no comment. Evidently, my colleague felt she has been wronged by the organization so much that she has decided to be a non-participant in anything resembling forward progress. She is not going to help a place that she feels hasn’t helped her. Seriously, could we act more like a petulant toddler who isn’t getting her way?

Thankfully, my colleague eventually decided to at least write my vacation days down, in some feeble attempt to appease me. What she does with that info I will never know. Hell, I’ll be on vacation so it won’t bother me if she forgets. Is that petty of me? I was proud of myself for not allowing her to walk all over me with her unwillingness to participate. In fact, my other colleague was equally frustrated and annoyed with said coworker. After the meeting, we both were thankful we do not have to go home with her, and decided there were things going on in her life we would never understand, and we don’t want to. Sometimes, for your own health and sanity, you just have to not participate in someone else’s chaos. What’s that phrase? Not my circus. Not my monkeys. This definitely applies here.

I think people’s perception of chaplains is that we are somehow “above” everyone else, or that we somehow don’t have regular people’s emotions. Chaplains, pastors or priests can’t get mad, that’s a negative emotion! We’re suppose to be tolerant of everyone, chaste and have virgin ears (never hearing cursing or lewd talk). Say what?? Before we all decided to go into the ministry, we were all part of regular families. We all grew up going to school, whether public or parochial, and have heard locker room talk. (Granted, not President Trump’s locker room talk, but that’s beside the point.) Why do so many people feel like we’re easily offended? Jesus got angry too, for gosh sake! And really, we’re supposed to be able to listen to our patients, their families, and our parishioners talk about all of the messiness in their lives, but not be able to relate to them or hear the negative things? How practical is that?

So my frustration with my colleague is typical that of anyone else’s frustration with a coworker. I get annoyed, irritated and downright mad sometimes. Before I went into the ministry as a profession, my mantra was always, Stupid people make me crazy. That still holds true for the most part, but in my current workplace, I don’t encounter very many said stupid people. By and large my colleagues are wonderful, caring and compassionate individuals who only want the best for the patients and families we serve. So while I have my moments of utter irritation and I want to lash out, the calmer and more rational side of me prevails and I decide to not allow anyone else to have power over my emotions or my actions. I can’t say I always pray for these people I’m irritated with, but I do pray that I never come to a place like that which they are in. I choose to pray that God will continue to show His favor on my life and lead me to where I know He wants me to go. I pray the same for you, whomever you are and wherever you are in the world as you read this.

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