From a Creighton Student's Perspective
April 19, 2012
3rd Year Medical Student
I am not alone. The secular world gives each of us a set of norms and expectations. It’s what we do with those “instructions” that matters. So many of these ideas are starkly contrary to what Jesus and our Church teach. This presents us with the challenge of deciding, on a daily basis, whose values we will espouse.
How do we assess whose instructions we’re following? There are many Litmus tests that we could apply to our lives to evaluate our decisions, but two that I suggest are analyzing what we talk about and where we spend our money. How we structure our finances says a lot about our priorities. That one’s simple. More challenging is focusing on our speech. As today’s readings tell us, “the one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things” (John 3:31). To whom do we speak in our average day? On what topics do we focus during those conversations? Perhaps more poignant: whom do we ignore and what topics do we avoid in our daily conversations?
Having first made the decision to adhere to God’s instructions over worldly influences and secondly to express that decision through our speech, the natural question regards what we should be saying. We all know that we should decrease the amount of gossip, slander, and denigration in our discussions, but what more? The majority of what we have to share are our own experiences and observations. So let’s use those. During this season, for example, let’s testify to what we have seen and heard during Easter. Let us invite others into our Lenten experiences and lessons. Share how self-denial and sacrifice made us feel fuller, rather than emptier.
I have worked with a certain friend on many of my rotations throughout my third year clerkships. While he’s not Catholic, he does mention God on occasion and at times gives me the opportunity to put in a good word for my faith. During Holy Week he became interested in my excitement about the Triduum. I’m a joking kind of guy, but instead of making light of the situation and choosing the easy way out, I took on the challenge of explaining the celebrations, our traditions and the dogma behind them in response to his many inquiries. That single conversation has opened the door to us both inviting our faith into our work together in the hospital on a more regular basis.
Our decision to pursue God’s will for our lives will likely lead to two temporary consequences: criticism and self-doubt. Just as the Apostles in our first reading infuriated the Sanhedrin, so too our standing up for God will probably incite mockery and condescension. The key is to remember how little other peoples’ opinions matter. Our life choices are not an attempt to please them, rather to be pleasing in God’s eyes. Secondly, most of us doubt to some degree that we have the eloquence to talk about our faith. That’s where the Holy Spirit comes in. Have no fear, for the Gospel assures us that God “does not ration his gift of the Spirit” (John 3:34).
All we must do is ask and the Holy Spirit will give us wisdom to determine which voices we are heeding in our daily lives, discernment to make more of those choices adherent to God’s guidance, and strength to share those experiences with others just like the Apostles.
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