Weekly Newsletter- August 24, 2018

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
(1 John 4:7, NIV)

“Unconditional positive regard.” Dr Leonard Werner, senior associate dean for medical student education for LLUSM, repeatedly said this phrase during the years he taught us. Not until halfway through my first year in rural family practice did I fully understand the value of “unconditional positive regard.”
I was exhausted, having been up all night; and at the end of long office day, I wanted to go home. But my nurse had one more patient. I really needed to see: the schedule listed a patient, who was not known to me, with a chief complaint of “positive pregnancy test—wants to terminate.”
I scolded my nurse, “Why are you putting her in my schedule? I can’t and won’t ‘help’ her with this. I won’t even tell her where she can get ‘help’. You know I don’t agree with this!” Filled with righteous indignation my mind was made up that I would let the patient know that this “problem” was something I did not believe in, and that I would not help her.
I was busy, tired, and had let myself be filled with condemnation. Then, Dr Werner’s voice went off inside my head: “unconditional positive regard.” Must I maintain positive regard, even though I strongly disagreed with her plan? I was irritated and enjoying my righteous indignation. Nevertheless, I prayed. I asked God to come with me and guide me.
The patient was very matter-of-fact in her response to the usual question, “What brings you in?” She was pregnant, it was an accident, her husband did not even know, and she did not want to have the baby.
The next thing to happen was because of my prayer, because of my prayer, because God was at work in the room. Instead of launching into my beliefs and my refusal to help her, I asked, “Why?”
“I can’t do it.”
“Can’t do what?”
“Have another baby.”
“Why?”
She had had terrible postpartum depression after the birth of her previous child and struggled with suicidal thoughts; she had not been a good mother or good wife. She was afraid of even worse depression this time, and she still struggled with those feelings on a day-to-day basis. We talked for a long time. Eventually, she agreed to tell her husband; he agreed to work less and help her through this situation. We made medication adjustments, and she started counseling.
She did not have a procedure; she had a beautiful baby girl.
I am periodically reminded by a happy, beautiful curly-haired 5-year-old of the importance of letting God love others through you. I clearly did not have it in me to do this on my own. First John 4:7 bids us to “love one another, for love comes from God.” Without Christian training to show unconditional positive regard, I might not have invited God to guide me in that exam room. I am afraid to think of the outcome if I had walked in without that training.
– Rick Marden, LLUSM class of 1999

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