In the middle of the night on my last on-call, I was paged to visit a patient in spiritual distress. He was very anxious about his upcoming surgery, but that was not all. With respect and honor due him for his personal and courageous confession, I can't tell any details. I can tell you that he was struggling with a challenged belief and value system, a sense of meaninglessness, a feeling of remoteness from God, a good dose of disruption of spiritual trust and a strong sense of guilt and shame. Add in a bit of fear for his life and voila, he needed a loving, listening ear.
One of the greatest gifts of this program has been the curiously wonderful side-stories that arise in the midst of someone's narrative. The cool thing was that his innocent sharing gave me great insight to his anxiety and to my own anxiety as I listened.
He shared about his little nephew of six or eight years old who has become a voracious reader. His teacher gave him a book and when nephew came across this word, seduce, the boy asked the teacher what it meant. [At this point, my care seeker patient apologized for using this word.] The teacher, of course, replied, "Look it up in the dictionary."
My middle-of-the-night care seeker chuckled about how the teacher was too embarrassed to explain to the boy and so foisted it back to him to find his own answers. Later that night the teacher called his mom to explain. The mother (this man's sister) graciously understood and sat with her son and explained the word in the context of the book. The important thing, the man said, was how proud he was at his nephew who had this yearning for knowledge and truth.
I thought a lot about that interaction the next day. How am I seduced (being led or drawn away, as from principles, faith, or allegiance) from what is important in my life? How easily I lose focus on my God, my neighbor, my self-valuation when stress gets piled up!
"The serpent seduced me," she said, "and I ate." - Genesis 3:13 (The Message)
What is seducing you in this moment?