French author, Gustave Flaubert said “Human language is like a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, when all the time we are longing to move the stars to pity.” In my hospital setting it looked like this:
A 16 year-old complained about everything to do with his nursing care. He told me loud and clear that he didn’t like “this place” and that nobody cared about him. What he finally said was, “I’m so afraid I’m going to die. I don’t want to die, Pat; I’m scared.”
The mother of a young quadriplegic patient told me “No one cares how my son feels. They won’t listen to him when he asks for help. It’s just like a prison here.” What she eventually said was “This boy is my husband’s whole life. I’ve tried to be a good mother – it’s all I know how to do. How could I have let this accident happen?”
Then there was a family member who said, “My sister should be in intensive care. If anything goes wrong, I’m going to call the newspaper.” Soon I learned, “I agreed to no attempts to resuscitate if her heart stops, but I’m having trouble with that. I’ve taken care of her for years and I’m just not ready to give her up.”
None of these complaints were about me personally, so I could address them easily and effectively. It was my job, and a work I loved doing. But when unwarranted complaining is personal, it’s quite a different matter.
It may be that you are in a situation now where the deep wounds of another are surfacing and you find yourself in the line of fire. The hope for the injured and angry person is professional counseling. If you engage in a situation not of your making and out of your control to fix, it will probably encourage the complainer and cause you to doubt yourself. I encourage you to give yourself some distance and care for the person through prayer. Sometimes that is all you can do and the very best thing to do. It is never right to assume guilt for something you didn’t do – and an extremely difficult lesson for some of us to learn.
May this be your prayer if you are under attack:
Father, bless the hurting with professionals who can help them. Bless me with a clear and wise mind to discern my part in another’s pain. If I can help, then show me how. And if I cannot, give me peace and acceptance. Teach me to be gentle with myself and not carry the weight of things You never asked me to carry. Amen.