Recently I had the experience of getting an insurance company to make an exception.
The story is long, boring and all-too-familiar. You’ve likely lived it. The medication or procedure is not covered. The doctor is out of network. Too bad, so sad, think of the care you could have had. Persistence, sometimes, pays, literally. But not always.
Almost by definition when one is attempting to get a medical behemoth to relent, one is not one’s best self. Sick or advocating for a loved one who is, phone calls with long hold times and many transfers must be made. Different information is shared on different days by different people.
It feels like playing a complicated game designed with obstacles that send one back to the beginning if the challenge is not overcome.
After yet another full hour on the phone with yet one more assurance that the situation had been resolved with the caveat to call back the next day, I felt utterly defeated. Now, this feeling was not solely the result of my weeks long back and forth with our specialty pharmacy.
This overwhelming emotion stemmed from the sense that this experience, ordinarily taken in stride, was emblematic of so much more. Have you noticed how hard it is to weather the small things these days? Making the call on what to do regarding the winter weather felt overwhelming. Getting turned around leaving an appointment was all but paralyzing. Seeing a toddler having a tantrum in the grocery store was all too relatable. I wanted to say to him, “Same.”
And here’s the thing, I feel guilty about feeling so upended by such trivial things. I recognize that others are bearing the burden of real, huge grief. I know there are those struggling to pay the ever-increasing cost of groceries and gas. I see the health-care workers, teachers and parents juggling professional stress and personal responsibilities and I want to look in the mirror and say with Edna Mode from The Incredibles, “Get yourself together!”
But, if you too find yourself feeling tender, frustrated in ways not commensurate with the catalyst, grumpy or even defeated, I would tell you to be gentle with yourself, and try to be gentle with others.
We’ve been through a lot these last few years, in the world, in our congregation, in our personal lives. Yes, some more than others, but all of us wounded and battered at least a bit. All of us worried for those truly beaten up and left by the side of the road. All of us attempting to bring relief to those we love and to the least of these even when our own reserves are low and, on some days, non-existent.
I tried to remind myself of this as I attempted to not let my frustration out on the umpteenth person I talked to at the call center earlier today. I can’t say I was 100% successful. I’m hoping the person on the other end of the line recognized that none of us are our best selves right now.
I hope we can all be forgiving and kind to ourselves, to everyone. But when we can’t, I know God’s grace is inexhaustible and available always, for all of us.