This week, Mike spoke about small things that make a big difference. Thanks to a kind friend at work, I was reminded that no matter how tangentially related the "small things" may be to the "big difference", I am making an impact on our organization, our employees, and our patients. More importantly, the small things that I do every day are making a big difference in God's kingdom and the world.
As some of you know, I work in the legal department at a large academic medical center. Working in the legal department can be demanding and stressful, and it is often easy to forget that my work has an ultimate impact on the people that we are here to serve - our patients. Because of the nature of the work that I do, I often only hear the saddest stories, and I am often asked to advise on the difficult issues that have no easy answers. I typically advise in cases involving people's poor decisions and bad behavior, and my interactions with patients are generally limited to helping someone with directions or observing their pain and illness from a distance.
I thought that today would be no different. After lunch, I stepped onto the elevator with a young boy in a stroller and his parents. The little boy had an obvious health issue that simply broke my heart. I could feel tears welling in my eyes, and in my mind, I prayed, "God - why? Why does this child have to suffer? Why do his parents have to suffer? How can I help them?"
When I returned to my office, I immediately sent Mike a text, which read:
"I need prayer. My heart hurts. Was just on the elevator with a little boy that broke my heart."
I then checked my calendar and saw that we were having a Service for the Blessing of the Hands. This service was led by one of our Chaplains. During the service, the Chaplain stated that many people do not think about the legal department and the work that we do. However, he realized that we often have to carry heavy burdens that we cannot discuss with anyone - he recognized that these burdens are often incredibly heavy and important. He said he wanted to remind us that "when we reach our hands out to do our work as part of the care of others, we are saying to others 'You re important to us and you are cared for by the efforts of many who value you and your needs.'" He asked us to look at our hands and reflect on the ways that we bless others with the work of our hands. My favorite part of the service was when he stated:
"We bless your hands in recognition of the Holiness of what you do every day... and to release the emotional burdens of those things done ... and those things yet to be done."
In that moment, our conference room felt holy. Although my heart still ached for the little boy and his suffering, I realized that my hands do holy things each day. I understood that on rare occasions I can do big things to help someone in need, but most days, I do small things. Most importantly, I realized that I can pray to release the emotional burdens of the things that my hands do and that my hands have yet to do.
The Blessing of the Hands did not answer why that little boy has to suffer. The Service did not heal him, and it did not stop the ache in my heart. But the service helped me reflect on the beauty of Christ. Because Christ is in my heart, I am able to share that love daily through the work of my hands. No job is too tedious, no task is too small. Because even the smallest, most tangential act of kindness and hard work can have a huge impact in a world that is hurting and in need of love.