If my son had made it to his due date, today would be his 5th birthday. He ended up being born 10 week early by emergency cesarean instead.
To this day, I don’t know what my wife’s doctor noticed during the check up that caused her to order an ultrasound. Her instincts led to the discovery of major complications and, ultimately, to his premature birth just a couple of days after that appointment.
We were already aware that he probably had Down syndrome (which he does), but there were major, life-threatening things going on as well. Things like low amniotic fluid causing his heart rate to plummet over and over again. And things like a malformed umbilical chord. And something called neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia (I’ll spare you the details, but feel free to Google it).
These were things we knew nothing about before the doctor did a seemingly routine check up and sensed that something wasn’t quite right in the course of her non-invasive exam. Whatever she picked up on was so subtle that only an expert would be able to see it.
I will forever be grateful for that doctor. She quite literally saved our son’s life. I remember trying to express my thanks to her after the C-Section as she was giving me an update on her way out the door (she came in to deliver him on her day off because she’s the hero of the story and of course she did). She mostly acted like there wasn’t much need for thanks. Sort of a “just doing my job” kind of response. And of course she was just doing her job. But I continue to marvel at the excellence she brought to her work. The skill and knowledge she possessed. She was competent. She was an expert.
It reminds me of the time I helped a deacon at our church remove a wall in a classroom. It was load-bearing, so a beam was needed. One of the boards he was using to build the beam was a bit warped so it didn’t fit into place when we raised it. I assumed we had to go get a new piece of wood, but he wasn’t concerned about it. I watched in awe as he used a collection of 2X4s and knowhow to shift the board this way and that to make it fit into place so he could secure it with brackets and screws. The man possessed expertise that I did not.
My wife is a nurse, and I usually have little idea what she’s talking about when she recounts parts of her day working in the ICU. She is competent in a field I have never been trained in. She is an expert.
I think it’s worthwhile to take some time every so often to think about the impressive experts we know in the fields that we don’t. Let the awe you have for them humble you. Always keep in mind that we are not experts on most things. Experts don’t know everything, and sometimes they get things wrong. But we should never think we know an expert’s field better than they do.
My wife’s doctor saved my son’s life because she was an expert. That deacon saved us from buying unnecessary lumber because he was an expert. My wife and her colleagues do life-saving work because they are experts. When someone says, “trust the experts,” it’s because that is a reasonable thing to do.
We would all do well to remain humble enough to say “I don’t know” and then defer to someone who perhaps does.