Yesterday, I received the hospital’s report regarding my mom’s fall. (To read what happened to my mom, read my post 15 minutes of hell)
The scene has played out hundreds of times since she fell on December 15th. And after reading the hospital’s report, I went into an emotional tailspin of intense anger.
In the letter, the hospital admitted my mom shouldn’t have been left alone on the bedside commode. But, anticlimactically, that was about as forthcoming and transparent as they were about what happened. There was nothing about the lies the nurse told me about leaving my mom. Nothing about the cover-up. Nothing about my mom’s additional pain and suffering and additional hospital stay and meds she was prescribed because of the neglect. And there was nothing about the trauma of finding my mom on the floor. It was obvious to me that this ‘report’ had been thoroughly rinsed through the legal department before it was sent out.
Part of me wants to get legal advice and sue the hospital. I want someone to pay for what happened to my mom. We all know that corporations change only when they have to pay, so what will be learned if I simply go away? How would I feel if someone else went through this same ordeal and did nothing, and then it happened with my mom? I feel a sense of responsibility for being a steward of what happened, and I don’t want it swept under the rug. But, mostly, I want justice. I want someone to pay. I want it set right.
And then I remember the book, Unbroken. It’s the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who became a POW in a Japanese concentration camp during WWll. For years, he and his fellow prisoners endured starvation, severe and crippling beatings, and degrading humiliation. The book delves deeply into his post-war life and the resulting PTSD and alcohol addiction. His life was in the shambles of hatred, and all he thought about was killing the most horrific prison guard of all, a man the prisoners named The Bird. But then something quite miraculous happened to Louis. At the height of his addiction and in the midst of losing everything, he went to a Billy Graham crusade and learned about God’s forgiveness. That was when God took hold of Louis’ heart, and gave him the power to forgive his enemies.
Just a few days ago I was telling everyone how inspired I was by Louis Zamperini’s forgiveness and how being freed from hatred has allowed him to live a powerfully redeemed life full of service and goodness. And then two days later I want Nurse K’s head on a platter. Lord, help me. I’m a walking bundle of contradictions.
And then this morning during deep reflection, I remembered times in my life when I’ve made bad choices and I was shown grace instead of punishment. I remembered when I partied with my friends and then got into a car and drove home. It’s only by God’s grace that I didn’t kill someone.
I thought about the time when I was thirteen years-old and was caught shoplifting. I could have been arrested and sent to Juvenile Hall, but the security officers saw that I was a girl who was acting with the crowd and just needed the discipline and guidance of her parents. It was because of grace that I wasn’t prosecuted.
And then God gently brought out the big guns and I started to remember the deeper, more disturbing choices I made before entering recovery. Had God not been gracious to me? It was God’s love that healed me and set me free from addiction, not his wrath. If it weren’t for God’s grace, I wouldn’t be here at all.
As the memories flowed, I started thinking about Nurse K. Unlike The Bird, Nurse K wasn’t intending to hurt my mom. I don’t think she woke up the morning of December 15th and set out to make my mom fall. I believe she made a bad choice, probably under extreme pressure at work. And, sadly, my mom paid for it. If Louis can forgive The Bird, who performed premeditated torture, I asked myself, shouldn’t I also forgive Nurse K? Doesn’t she deserve the same grace I’ve been given?
Hmmm. With that thought, something deep within started to stir.
Jesus told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. As hard as it is, to be a true follower of Jesus, I have to be willing to put my sword down, even when I have the right to sling it.
The invitation set before me is the same one Jesus presents to us every day. Will you follow me? Are you up for the adventure of doing things my way? Are you willing to forego the human pay-off so my will can be done? I see things you don’t see. I’m interested in much deeper things than law suits and revenge. Above all, I’m interested in the hearts of people, where the real change happens.
There’s a high price to this invitation, though. We must lay down our swords.
So, in honor of my mom and out of my desperate need for the Lord’s wisdom, I’ve decided that until after Easter, I will do nothing but pray about the situation. I won’t call an attorney. I won’t respond to the hospital’s letter. And when I have flashbacks of finding my mom on the floor, I’ll pray.
I’m not sure how God’s justice, mercy, and the need for accountability will play out with the hospital. But, I do know that God must first deal with my darkened heart before I can deal properly with anyone else… including Nurse K.
“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” Romans 2:4