Last week, I had a little surgical procedure. No biggie. Just a routine test based on my family’s history of cancer.
And, based on my family’s history of anxiety, I was a little bit nervous.
(Okay, I was in a tizzy…)
So, I decided to make myself feel better by doing what any
hypochondriac responsible, proactive patient would do: I turned to the Worldwide Web. I found not only helpful articles, but also videos of the procedure, helping me to know exactly what to expect. In addition, the medical practice has a website, so I could see pictures of the surgery center, equipment and even pictures of all the doctors, nurses and office managers. All of the necessary paperwork was available on the site, too, making preparations easy.
Once at the surgery center, the technology sparkled…state-of-the-art medical equipment, computers and even a luxurious and, I learned, quite expensive, blanket warming cabinet. Technology made everything so much more comfortable, and certainly calmed my anxious mind.
But it didn’t replace the care and kindness of real, live people.
Not one little bit. Not even close.
Online videos helped, but they couldn’t replace a discussion with my sister (the nurse!). Web-based articles were informative, but paled next to my husband’s steadfast, calm presence. Downloadable forms were convenient, but nothing compared to the nurse’s reassuring words as I woke up, or my friend, Rebecca’s outrageous sense of humor, or the doctor’s rather jolly bedside manner.
In today’s online, web-based, texty, tweety world, we can communicate silently and work independently. We can connect with people all over the world and access information that only a few short years ago, would have only been available at a university library. On microfiche. Technology is a very, very good thing.
But I was reminded, last Tuesday, that I shouldn’t be so wooed by the speed, convenience and intricacy of technology that I forget that I was created for real-live, warm, honest community.
That blanket, all cozy-warm, fresh from that high-tech cabinet, wouldn’t have meant anything at all without the nurse’s capable hands tucking it around me, squeezing my shoulder as she calmly reassured me: “Everything is just fine.”
Nice post…but you touched on two different aspects of your experience, both of which were critical to success, and both of which are relevant as well to the work you do with churches.
The pictures you saw and the video you watched on your computer helped to put your mind at ease (to some extent) before your procedure. Kids and adults who struggle with anxiety tend to overestimate the risks associated with unfamiliar situations. There are probably patients who would never get over the threshold of setting foot in the surgery center without the preparation of the pictures and video. It was the relationships that KEPT you there once you overcame your fear of going to the clinic for the procedure.
Same thing with anxious kids, anxious parents and church. Technology may help overcome the fear of entering a new experience, but they won’t keep coming back to church if they don’t experience warm and caring relationships once they overcome the fear of getting through the front door.
Steve, I think you summed up my point very well…technology and relationships aren’t an “either/or.” They’re an “and/both.” My post here is a reminder that while technology can support initiatives, reduce anxiety, build knowledge, etc., real relationships are not obsolete. They’re necessary.
I agree with Steve, The relationship is a powerful thing. That is why the body of Christ must do a better job of guarding those relationships and leveraging them when we need to. Thanks for sharing your story!
Thanks, Tom, for the feedback. I worry sometimes, with all of the technology available to us, we may be in danger of limiting rather than enhancing relationships. It’s something that our family concentrates on a lot, and I was reminded of the importance last week in the hospital.