I had to have a difficult conversation today. I’ve tried for three days to delay and deflect and defer it. It’s part of my current difficulties at work. I used to take everything on, but no more. Adjusting to my new perception of reality is very difficult. I wanted to write, ‘my new reality,’ but really it has always been this way, I just didn’t want to admit it, or to understand.
At work I take care of people who need to be taken care of. This puts everything in a certain kind of light. It’s not just about me, or the other people who work there. It’s not just about the people we serve, or the money we spend, or the task we agree to do. It’s about all of those things. We have certain resources and certain needs. There is no where near enough resources to meet the needs, and so every minute it’s a judgment call about what to attend to, and what to let go.
I’ve long understood that in a way, we also minister to the people who work there, not just to those we serve. I remember reading in a book by Burton Blatt how he visited an institution that was a model institution. One of the employees joyfully pointed out to Burton Blatt how a certain individual had learned to say hello, or something similar. Burton Blatt wrote that the individual in question didn’t do much of anything that Burton could see for sure. He went on to consider the life the employee had, gainfully employed and rendering a vital service. I don’t want to misquote him and I’m not sure this is correct, but I think he said perhaps the employee’s role was to show the glory of God. Sort of like the story where Jesus is asked, regarding a blind person, who sinned, the person or the person’s father. Jesus says neither, but rather the blindness is there so that we (sighted people) can demonstrate the glory of God by caring for this person.
I have problems with that scenario, but it’s stuck with me nonetheless. I don’t know why, when I look at someone with profound disabilities. I guess it could be a test for those of us without. That could explain poverty and natural disasters and a while slew of other ills, but I don’t think so.
Anyway it’s a fact they exist and that people like me profit from their existence. It’s also a fact, here and now, that people with disabilities are not highly valued in our society, and so the resources we make available to them are sparse. That means lots of people working in the field could not find employment elsewhere. Sometimes that’s because they have characteristics that would render them unemployable in a more demanding environment.
Lots of people who work in the field of disabilities could work elsewhere and choose to do this. I cannot count myself as belonging to either group. For me, I remember daily that I am called and blessed beyond measure to do this work and have a nice living. Carole’s support makes this possible.
This is an extremely long intro to my difficult conversation. I had to tell someone she is doing the wrong thing. I don’t like confrontation, and as part of my new reality I have tried hard not to confront people, to give that role to someone else. So I tried and struggled for three days, and short of refusing to do it, I decided it had to be done by me today.
After I got to work and thought about what to say and how to say it, I looked at my schedule, and it told me to pray. Yes, I have scheduled in prayer. I opened my prayer binder I’ve mentioned before, and I rotated back the Corinthians verses, and this is what I saw:
May I become at all times, both now and forever
When all else fails, follow directions!
So yes, the client is one without protection. I am called to protect her. The coworker has lost her way. The client is in danger, they are both without light. They are both in need, and I sought to serve them.
I told my coworker that she had to stop doing something she was doing. And she said, “OK.” And she made some small talk, I think, to repair the awkwardness between us. And that was that.