We’ve all heard someone, perhaps even ourselves, say, “That is outside of my comfort zone.” This phrase usually describes where calm ends and anxiety begins, where confidence runs dry and fear sets in. It also literally describes where comfort switches to discomfort or worse, pain. Here at the Good Samaritan Health Center of Gwinnett, we’ve all had to tweak our comfort zones, to adjust ourselves and expectations to circumstances that have been a little more challenging and a little less pleasant than what we would have liked.
During the last four years, we’ve learned how to park forty cars in twenty-seven spaces, eat lunch standing up, pray out loud and carry on heartfelt conversations in wide open spaces, and seat six in an office furnished for two. These were the easy tweaks to our comfort zones.
We’ve also learned how to be comfortable stretching the boundaries of primary care. Here we provide healthcare to those with brittle diabetes, advanced cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases, gynecological and neurological problems, cancers, and more. It is not uncommon for new students and medical volunteers to gasp and ask why we aren’t referring such sick people to specialists. Attending to cases like these will challenge almost anyone’s comfort zone. And then we explain – we are a safety-net clinic; we exist to serve those who have no other option. The poor and uninsured cannot afford for us to make decisions based on our preference to avoid risk and stay within our comfort zone. The poor and uninsured have turned to us because they have nowhere else to go. We must attend to them, doing the best and most we can, within rather limited means.
We attend to them because we are called to be their comfort zone, their safe place to turn, no matter if the task at hand gives us the jitters.
When we are stressed by extraordinary situations, I think of someone who bravely went well beyond his comfort zone. I think of Jesus. I think of how heavy the cross must have weighed on his shoulders, how the thorns, whip, and nails must have felt when piercing his skin, and how alone he surely was when his companions turned away from him. Yet he willingly endured it all. He endured it all for our patients, for me, and for you.
With Jesus as our example, we continue to tempt anxiety, fear, and discomfort as we test and redefine our comfort zones to better serve the continuously increasing demands on our ministry. Soon, when we move into our new home, the problems of inadequate parking and work space will be resolved. But the pressing needs of the uninsured will remain. By some estimates, more than 20 million people are still without health insurance, and even more do not have dental insurance. We believe we are adequately provisioned to care for the poor of our community for the near future, but we cannot operate indefinitely with the reserves we have on hand. This is why I ask you, even though we have had a successful campaign to buy, renovate, and furnish a larger facility, to continue to give generously to our ministry, perhaps give beyond your comfort zone, so that we may continue for years to come to be the most robust safety-net clinic of our community.
Jesus said, and proved, there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Few of us will be faced with giving our life to save another, but all of us can come closer to that ultimate sacrifice by laying down our comforts and indulgences in order to give to help the poor. Please offer us a gift today so that we may continue to respond to the medical, dental, and emotional needs of the uninsured in north metro Atlanta. We thank you for your support and prayers so far, and we thank you in advance for how you may support us in the future.