"You've got a lot of hard bark on you."
I can't remember what movie that's from, but it's my husband's favorite line. I always kind of envied people with a tough exterior. I was the sort who would tear up at the first hint of an unkind word, for as far back as I can remember. I went out of my way to never do anything wrong because I couldn't handle being corrected, especially in public. When I was in 8th grade, a rather gruff IHM berated me for something, and when I started to well up, she told me to knock it off or she'd "slap the tears right off my face." Given this history, it seems ironic that I would work in nursing and especially in the operating room. There is a saying in nursing, in which no one with their heart in the right place should ever feel pride:
"Nurses eat their young."
We had an OR staff meeting yesterday. We're required to have them once a month and frankly, given the choice of running these meetings or sticking needles in my eyes, it would be a tough decision to make. Given all that's happened this past week, I wasn't exactly feeling up to a battle, so I tried to show by my demeanor that I wasn't interested in a fight, but some smelled blood and went for the jugular. Try as I might, I could not hide my emotions and after the meeting, one kind soul sought me out to offer some consolation.
"Joyce,"she told me, her arm sympathetically around my shoulder, "I learned early on to recognize evil. Don't let them get to you."
When I went back to my desk, there was a sympathy card from the other units I oversee, including the doctors. I was very touched that they took the time to write and express such thoughtful sentiments. It made the actions of their colleagues in the OR seem very petty and mean-spirited indeed.
The Lord sends trials, and He also sends an occasional Veronica to wipe the blood, sweat and tears. The acts of kindness will be remembered long after the sting of the barbs has subsided. And not just by the recipient. Still, what makes people want to behave that way? Why do people want to treat others with such contempt?