Entry 2: Becoming A RareFit!
Updated: Nov 6
My Christian faith and love for the Lord is absolutely founded from learning to cherish His old rugged cross. Yet, you want me to take the cross off the wall over the pulpit when I do an interfaith service? “You have got to be kidding me,” I thought! Once, I was accepted in the Clinical Pastoral Care Education (CPE) program in 2016, the reality of the sacrifice that I would have to make became real. I felt that the Lord was leading me. I wanted to connect with other chaplains and I had a desire to want to grow in hospital chaplaincy skills. So, I prepared myself to travel the one-way 2 ½ hours on the commuter bus trip leaving at 4:30am in the morning sometimes, in the rain, the freezing cold, and even sometimes in light snow, so that I would arrive on time for weekly classes starting at 8:30am.
During the 1st few weeks or so, I would wonder if I was crazy for doing this, the travel was a bit physically painful, yet I still felt that the Lord was directing me to pursue this, so I prayerfully moved forward by faith. But, three weeks into my 1st year of my CPE program, I thought about quitting, this was ridiculous! Here began the 1st of many spiritual conflicts that I would face, “Interfaith.” As chaplain’s one of our educational requirements is to provide interfaith services for the hospital. Services are held for various faith traditions and the interfaith service was designed to be more inclusive and have a broader outreach of spiritual care. Our services are held in the hospital chapel, but they are also broadcasted all over the hospital & in-patient rooms as a media means of providing spiritual support and care.
"To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am
made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
23 And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker
thereof with you," (1 Corinthians 9: 22 & 23, KJV).
There is a process to becoming a spiritual/scripturally all thing, a “RareFit”! In the pastoral chaplain arena, are you willing to become weak to understand how to pray for and minister to the weak? Are you willing to embrace the concept of learning to understand other faith traditions and learning how to preach an Interfaith style message. These two words, I fought with, to embrace during my CPE journey, but because of the inclusiveness of the mission statements. The overall hospital’s mission statement states that it, “provides physical and spiritual comfort to patients and families in the Jesuit tradition of cura personalis, care of the whole person.” Whereas, our Department of Mission and Pastoral Care’s mission statement states that it, “provides spiritual and emotional support to patients, families and staff through sacramental and liturgical ministries as well as spiritual presence and conversation. An interfaith team of chaplains and volunteers serves people of every religious affiliation who are receiving inpatient or outpatient care at MedStar Georgetown.” So interfaith is at the foundational core of the CPE training process. Helping us to understanding and to be trained in other faith traditions & spiritualities.
I have had the privilege to serve with numerous chaplains over the past seven years. To name a few of their faith traditions were; Episcopal, Dominican Brother (Catholic order), Church of God in Christ (GOGIC), Muslim, Seven-day Adventist, Presbyterian, and Orthodox. Some of our classes and workshops exposed us to training about Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jewish faith traditions. We were to be equipped to provide spiritual care to the masses. But you want me to take the cross down and not use the name of Jesus too often so other faith traditions could feel comfortable, right? WRONG, for me! I stated with great passion and conviction that how unfair I felt this was. You want me to be inclusive and make other faith tradition individuals feel comfortable, yet by removing the cross off the wall and limiting me saying the name of Jesus, my faith tradition was not a part of the faith tradition inclusiveness of interfaith. Or so I thought.
In personal reflection, I examined my very 1st interfaith message from 2016 entitled, “Unlocking the Heart of Service: The Act of LOVE!” Love is an action word: It can also be a virtue representing human kindness, compassion, and affection—"the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another" “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8, KJV). What I noticed about my message then, I spent the first 10 minutes introducing my faith tradition and my function in the Apostolic faith tradition. Sadly, that didn’t have anything to do with an act of love. Hurting, sick and even dying patients, fatigued and/or stressed staff don’t need nor do they care about that. They don’t care about the cross on the wall or how many times that I say or don’t say Jesus. What they care about and need is to see the love of Jesus in me, and through me by comforting, healing spiritual presence & prayer as an act of love. My message shouldn’t have been about my introduction to my Apostolic faith, nor of who I am in my faith. But it should have been how much love, kindness, and compassion and prayer that I can show. I finally got it, interfaith is about loving the sick enough to learn how to reach them and love them in the way that they are able to recognize it. If we never get to say a word in that ailing patients room, we still carry the love and the presence of God with in us!
Valuable lesson learned; unselfish love is about giving and serving from a place of sacrificial love. I didn’t have anything to prove, nor did I have to go on a campaign of standing up for my convictions for the cross, nor Jesus’s name. Neither of my two passionate faith convictions had anything to do with providing spiritual care to patients, their families or the hospital staff. Becoming a “RareFit,” means, “rare,” (an adjective: of an event, situation, or condition, out of the ordinary) not occurring very often (Oxford Dictionary, 2020). And, fit means, “of a suitable quality, standard, or type to meet the required purpose, in good shape” (Oxford Dictionary, 2020). In a nutshell, to be a, “RareFit,” means that one has suitable qualities that are out of the ordinary spiritual character than most. After I received this spiritual revelation and corrective conviction, I repented and started focusing on what the Lord sent me there for in the 1st place. My chaplain energy grace was now more focused on serving from a place of love and wanting to please the Lord through providing pastoral spiritual care in excellence. See you on this journey of my upcoming book, "The Diary of a Hospital Chaplain!" (release date: 2021)
Here is a sneak preview: What’s my name? Until next time.
For the sake of the Chaplain’s healing Call!
Chaplain Jacqueline M. Pressey, Ed.D.,
"Every job is a self-portrait of the person who does it. Autograph your
work with becoming extraordinary, through pursuing EXCELLENCE!"