Feb. 28, 2017

The Advocate

It’s tough to be an advocate. I remember being called for jury duty my first time. I reported downtown as every good citizen does when summoned to county court. I was Juror #12. Everyone seemed to think that was bad telling me the first 12 were basically “selected.” They believed the attorneys only moved down the list if they eliminated #1-12 during the voir dire.

Looking back, I was so innocent. I was extremely nervous but a little bit excited. It was all new. First jury summons; first time; first case; first voir dire.

It became obvious that the case was a medical malpractice suit that resulted in the death of a husband, father, and grandfather. It was all very serious and heartbreaking for both sides. On one side of the courtroom, you had a family missing their loved one and feeling robbed. On the other side, you had a doctor that spent most of his life trying to save people.

As the attorneys began their questions, we were asked to stand if we had any medical experience. I stood. At the time I was working for an outpatient mental health practice but I had numerous years working for hospitals and with doctors. Once we stood, the questions became a bit more aggressive and less friendly.

What it boiled down to was whether or not we felt we could be unbiased based on our education, life experiences, background, and work history. Each of the seven who stood saying they had medical experience was asked individually what we did in the medical field. All I had to say was, “I was a patient educator and patient advocate.” You guessed it. I was dismissed.

Being an advocate is tough because you aren’t always liked by one side of the issue. Being an advocate is tough because you have to ask tough questions and say tough things that people don’t want to hear. Advocacy is certainly not for the faint of heart. The advocate has to stand when the person needing their advocacy feels their weakest. Advocates must have strong spirits and just minds. Advocates, surprisingly, tend to have soft hearts.

The physicians I worked with loved me until I took a stand; then, not so much. I heard things like I was “crazy,” “angry,” “uninformed,” and a “troublemaker.”  I kept advocating. I kept advocating not because I enjoyed standing in the gap. I kept advocating because I was and am called to stand in the gap. Always.

You don’t have to like what I say. You don’t have to like me. You don’t have to understand the process of advocacy. You do have to believe in advocates because you have one.  His name is Jesus. People didn’t understand Him. They called him “crazy” and “evil.” They really felt He was the ultimate troublemaker. Jesus advocated all the way to the cross and continues to advocate through His Spirit today.

Standing in the gap isn’t comfortable; that’s why the Comforter was sent. You never stand alone when you are willing to stand in a gap for those too weak to stand for themselves.

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always.” John 14:16