Why Lingering Is Better Than Efficiency

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Capitalism has shaped America into a society that values efficiency. Global, competitive markets reward businesses that get the most done in the shortest amount of time, this is why software systems aimed to automate business processes exist and are being created by the second, such as this network monitoring application for example. Hospitals work the same way, as doctors are often required to see a certain number of people to maintain their jobs. However, patient quota often exceeds the amount doctors can adequately care for.
Working efficiently seems to make a lot of sense because it’s the best deal a business could offer. But is an efficient model Biblical in the healthcare industry?

Maybe not.

Was Mrs. J about to sue the practice?
At the beginning of the appointment, Mrs. J was visibly bitter as she explained how another physician told her that the pills Dr. Duncan, the leading physician at Shawnee Christian Healthcare Center, prescribed her were incorrect and could lead to seizures or even death. As minutes passed by, the tension in the room rose. Was Mrs. J about to sue the practice?

She began digging her nails into her skin as she explained how she had developed a deep itch ever since taking the prescribed pills. Mrs. J only looked more disturbed as Dr. Duncan quickly but calmly assured her that, medically, everything was fine; her other physician misdiagnosed due to a lapse in communication. Dr. Duncan then offered to prescribe her an anti-itch cream. At this point, Dr. Duncan had technically addressed all of Mrs. J’s physical needs because he re-established the safety of her pills and offered a solution for her side effects. He could have ended the appointment and used the extra time to catch up on mandatory and overflowing paperwork. But he chose to press in…

My heart broke as I began to see the burden she carried.
Dr. Duncan lingered and pushed further into the patient’s thoughts by politely asking her what exactly was bothering her the most. To my surprise, tears began to flow. Dr. Duncan handed Mrs. J a box of tissues, as if this subtly gave her permission to continue, Mrs. J began to share deeply rooted feelings of insecurity and isolation after being molested by her father when she was 7 months pregnant. By then, Mrs. J was sobbing — my heart broke as I began to see the burden she carried, which likely correlated with her physical ailments. A patient visit that started in the direction of a legal discussion quickly turned into an intimate conversation.

Right then and there, Dr. Duncan asked permission to pray with her. She nodded in approval. As he began to pray God’s truth, comfort, and love in her life, Mrs. J stopped itching and began to look more at peace. She even wanted me to follow up with her weekly to pray and talk.

It was in that moment that I realized the power of lingering.
Dr. Duncan allowed God to use him as an agent of spiritual and emotional care through lingering. It is a practice that can oppose efficiency because it requires sacrificing your own time to genuinely listen and respond to another. It was in that moment that I realized the power of lingering. It provides time and space for us to get out of the way and for a miracle to happen.

Monica Ngo is from Woodbury, MN and made an impact by serving at Shawnee Christian Healthcare during the summer of 2016. After a very rigorous educational experience, she is currently traveling the world.

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