I have a confession. I don’t know if I like people. This is insane, right? I am a NURSE, for heaven’s sake. I work with people ALL DAY. OK, so maybe that right there is the ticket, maybe the fact that I work with people all day is the reason why I don’t like people. I am sure that all of us at some point have seen “grumpy cat”, that beloved feline image that has taken over the Internet with his lovable yet snarky little pout. Grumpy cat is my favorite. If I were a cat, I would totally be grumpy cat. He is cynical yet lovable. Just like me, I think.
My days as a nurse practitioner have turned into this exercise of endlessly suppressing my inner grumpy cat. Mostly so I don’t get fired. I think that many nurses, teachers, social workers, secretaries, customer service representatives, or anyone who works closely with people 40+ hours per week can relate to this at some point in their careers (or at least I hope so!). I am hopeful that, as my mother would say when we were kids, “it’s just a phase”, and that I can start looking for the good in people again instead of just naturally zoning in on the things that irritate me.
I feel a great deal of angst and guilt over my aforementioned grumpiness because, a) I am waist-deep in a career that is all about helping others, and b) I am a Christian. I don’t feel like either of those identities permit me to have those feelings. Or if I have them, I certainly can’t express them without feeling very awkward and vulnerable. I am supposed to love and serve people, not look at them through a cynical lens.
Enter, my favorite book in the whole wide world, Carry on Warrior, which led me to my most favorite blog, Momastery. This woman makes me feel normal. She is a brave, bold, teller of truth and a self-proclaimed spreader of hope. She has a really big online community associated with her blog which is truly like a family. One of my favorite things that they do is something called “Love Flash Mobs”. During a LFM, her online community will raise money for a particular cause in a set time period, usually 24-48 hours. And the rule is that no one can give more than $25. I had the opportunity to participate in a few Love Flash Mobs, and it was awesome. Just awesome. To sit on your couch, in your comfy pants, give $25 through PayPal, and watch countless other people do the same until, whammo! Suddenly a group of people has raised a million dollars in 48 hours for refugees in Europe fleeing from war in Syria and landing, soggy and destitute, on the shores of Lesvos. Or raising enough money for those within their communities undergoing financial hardship to buy Christmas gifts for their children, and then some. One particular Love Flash Mob I participated in was aimed to raise money for a maternity center in Haiti, called Heartline. This online community of sisters raised over $475,000 in 24 hours for Heartline to add another wing to their maternity center. And just like that, my faith in humanity slowly started to be restored.
This is is where the saying, “it is more blessed to give than to receive” comes from, I think. I love the idea that very few of us could afford to give half a million dollars to help a maternity center in Haiti or Syrian refugees fleeing war. But if everyone helps out a little, there is such power in that. It’s like we all need each other in order to help each other.
And so, I began reading about the Heartline Organization, and learned that they offered missions trips. The medical missions trip interested me because of my bucket list. I asked Jeff if it was OK with him if I go. In true, laid-back, easy-going, Jeff-style, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “it’s OK with me.” 16 years ago, my newlywed self may have misinterpreted that to mean that he wasn’t excited about it. But the experienced Mrs. Wright knows that he is always really chill that way.
I am still troubled by my people burnout, and I wonder why it seems like it will be easier or more desirable to love and serve people in a foreign country, instead of the people I come in contact with every day. But maybe I have to start somewhere. So, if you see me and I’m grumpy with you, be patient with me. I’m working on it.