Psalms 23:1-3 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Song: Psalms 23 Shane & Shane
Happy Eighth Day of Thanks Everyone!
Today, we give thanks for guidance. For without it, many of us would be completely lost.
Have you ever found yourself in a valley of decision where you didn’t know what to do and where to go next? If I can be completely honest with you, this has been one of those seasons in my life where I have experienced more of those moments than I would like to admit.
In the early part of the summer, I was asked if I would consider a consultant job that involved me leading two community/Environmental Justice tours in the Mott Haven-Port Morris section of the Bronx for a group of first year medical residents from a local public hospital. When I heard about the previous tours done, I was a little reluctant to accept the job. On the previous tours, they had a fancy tour bus riding through my neighborhood of the South Bronx and one of my colleagues talking to the students about the community from the bus. (Don’t get me started on how crazy and messed up that is!) That is not how I conduct my tours! I am not a bus tour guide and was not about to facilitate a tour allowing folk to think they could be too bourgeois to walk through my community and really understand who and what it is.
As I do with most of my decisions, I asked God if these tours were something that He wanted me to do. Of course, the tours had to be conducted in my style of doing them if I was going to do them. I didn’t hear anything for two days. On the third day, a friend of mine called me and asked, “would you work for this hospital?” I asked her what made her ask me that question. She said, I was praying and for some reason it came into my spirit that you are going to work for that hospital or do something for that hospital. I told her that it was funny that she said that because I was just offered a consultant position to do two tours for them. Although I had not heard anything in my prayer time during those two days, here was confirmation on the third day that I was supposed to do the tours.
Once I agreed to do the tours, I met with the chief residents and one of the hospital staff who was organizing the tours for the students. I asked several questions about their intentions for the two tours. Since I like to keep it real and raw about things when it concerns my community, I asked them if they knew what the community perception of their hospital was. They did know. My community calls that hospital “the Butcher shop” and says that if you go in it, you won’t come out. Several years before, I did my own social experiment with Lilah when she was brought to its Emergency Room, just to see if what the community said was true. Unfortunately, their reputation was earned. It was one of the most egregious experiences I had in a NYC hospital’s emergency room.
I asked them what was some of the programming that they planned to do to take the hospital outside of its four walls and into the community. In my mind, one of the purposes of the tours should be that the residents participating should afterwards know and feel like the catchment area of the hospital was now their community too and that they were being commissioned with caring for it. They were no longer outsiders once they accepted their job as residents.
We planned the first tour with a great line up of community sites. I’m always praying about the exact topics and themes that should be discussed based on the group of people that are on the tour. God’s guidance was amazing because He spoke to my spirit and gave me the topics to discuss with them and how to rearrange some of the tour from its original plan. We got through most of the sites in our line-up but had to alter it a bit because we were walking on a hot day and the residents wanted to learn more about a few of the sites before we left them. We had dynamic discussions; the residents were completely immersed and engaged in the activities happening. Ya girl was a hit! I’m told that, according to all of the feedback given, the residents loved the tour. As they were bragging about the tour to the older residents, the older ones complained to the chief residents that they wanted to be taken on a tour of the community as well.
The following week, we started planning for the second tour that was a week away. When I asked for who this tour was, they told me that it would be for the first-year emergency medicine residents. When I prayed about this tour, God said that I was going to have to plan a completely different tour for these residents because it was vital for them to really understand the community and what was happening in it. We toured Boom Health!, which was an organization that catered to members of the community that dealt with substance abuse. We were able to establish relationships with their leadership so that the residents can work with them and volunteer for their community outreach work. We talked extensively about mental health and the resources available within the community to which they could direct their patients. We had a few now-it-alls in our group and I told the chief resident that I’d demonstrate exactly how he should handle them in the hospital setting. (You know your girl shut that prideful spirit down in a beautiful, professional manner and made the moment a teachable one.) I took them to the H.E.Arts Center (the former Lincoln Recovery Center) and told them I was deputizing them as ambassadors to tell their hospital to give the community that building. Our tour ended two hours later in Friends of Brook Park, one of our amazing community gardens.
After the tour, the chief resident asked, “how in the world were you able to create two completely different tours with some of the exact same sites?” My reply, “God is good!” According to the second tour’s feedback, that tour was an absolute hit as well and the residents declared the tour as a necessity for every incoming class. A few weeks later, I was told that the organizers want my tour to be a permanent mainstay in the resident’s schedule. That was the job that my friend probably saw when she asked me if I’d work for the hospital.
Thank God for guidance because if you remember correctly I was not really interested in doing this gig. God sent my friend to guide me to the decision to accept it. It was also through God’s guidance that I received the topics and themes for each tour. God knew what each set of residents needed to know and what their area of focus should be within the community. The two tours were the perfect example of what Psalms 23 verse three talks about when it states “He [God] guides me along the right paths.” Not only did I have a great time on the tours with the residents, as long as the hospital has the money within the budget, I’ll have a job taking each of their incoming classes of residents on a tour of our community.
Today as we give thanks for guidance, if you need some guidance with life/goal planning, I invite you to check out Ms. Stephanie Jackson, a Life/Goal Achieving Coach at www.yoursweetestlife.com. You can sign up for a goal planning workshop and she even gives a free 30 min consultation to hire her for one on one coaching.
Have a great day of Thanks!