The Parable of Dr. Bob

Posted: April 29, 2014 in Dr. Bob, On Being Apostolic
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I begin this post with a disclaimer of sorts. Or more accurately, with apologies to all the Bobs, Bobbys, Bobbies, Roberts, Robs, and RRRRRobbies I have known. Most of them have been great guys; one was an incredible artist, another was an erudite intellectual…and one was simply mahhhvelous!) In any case, I apologize for blaspheming your name. “Bob” just happens to work really well when trying to tell this sort of story.

Introducing Dr. Bob

Dr. Bob was a good doctor. He was a caring, charming, accurate, professional, concerned, thoughtful, smart, well-educated, up-to-date, rather handsome doctor of ample proportions. That’s right. Dr. Bob was fat. Not jumbo-large fat, but chunky. Girthy. Chubby. Hefty. Big. Heavy. Porky. You get the picture. It’s not like he spread out everywhere, but when he walked into the room you noticed that he was a good sized guy.

Sadly, in this era obsessed with image & appearance, some people judged his professional ability based on his chunkiness. Since he didn’t match their image of a TV doctor, since he wasn’t toned and tanned, they judged him to be a less than competent physician…which simply wasn’t true. And yes, some of his patients who were more conscious of image & appearance razzed him a bit from time to about his weight. Yet, even though they would have preferred him more on the slender side, they knew he was a good doctor.

For years Dr. Bob was a very effective physician, and his weight was no impediment to his effectiveness in his calling.

How Dr. Bob Changed Greatly

Then he got sick. Well, that’s an overstatement, really. He had a little flutter in his chest. Being a doctor, he knew he should go to a doctor, who told him that while he didn’t have heart disease…yet…he needed to make some changes in his lifestyle. He had to lose weight. Dr. Bob left his doctor’s office with a determined set to his jaw; he was going to do this.

Overnight, Dr. Bob changed his diet and established a rigorous exercise regimen. He became “clean” in his eating habits, “organic” completely….almost a vegetarian. He walked, then walked fast, then jogged, then ran. He rowed, went rock climbing, lifted weights, took vitamins, and got lots of sun. His weight dropped dramatically, his muscles toned and his shoulders broadened. Even his skin took on the sheen of health. He looked great, he felt great…in short, Dr. Bob was a new man! And, joy of joys, no more chest flutter!

But then a strange transformation took place. Well, maybe not so strange when you consider how radically Dr. Bob’s life was altered for the good by his weight loss… Dr. Bob became a diet-Nazi. (You know what I mean. You’ve known one.) Since his choices had worked out so well for him, and since his life had been so radically transformed for the better by them, Dr. Bob seemed to assume that weight loss was the answer to just about every issue of general health. And if it wasn’t the answer, it certainly was supportive of the answer. And in a remarkably short period of time, Dr. Bob began inserting “weight loss & diet” into just about every remedy he issued or prescription he wrote.

Dr. Bob Obnoxified

Sadly, he also began looking at some of his patients the way some his patients had looked at him, back in the “chunky-bob” days. He thought they were less, that they were somehow inferior, because in his eyes they seemed a bit too heavy. Even if their blood pressure was perfect and their blood chemistry was all in order. Even if their heart rate was great and their lung capacity was amazing. Even if they were perfectly healthy in every possible way…if they didn’t fit his new estimation, his new image, of what a healthy human being should look like, then he wasted no time preaching to them his gospel of weight loss & diet.

In short, Dr. Bob became obnoxious. While he was still a mostly caring, charming, accurate, professional, concerned, thoughtful, smart, well-educated, up-to-date, rather handsome doctor of now not-so-ample proportions, one would have to add “obnoxious” to the list of adjectives describing him. He became so focused on what had worked well for him, he seemed to lose touch with the idea that the same prescription may not be what’s needed for everyone.

So what if Jenny-Sue is a little heavier than you think she should be, Dr. Bob? Is she otherwise healthy? And if she is, how can you suggest that weight loss is what she needs? Maybe, Dr. Bob, Jenny-Sue’s extra pounds aren’t really the issue. Maybe your obsession with weight loss & diet reveals more about your needs, about your weaknesses, and about your fears, then it does about your patients…who may be otherwise perfectly healthy, if a little on the heavy side.

(This is the end of Part One of the Parable of Dr. Bob. Part Two will follow soon!)

  1. I like where you are going with this. I have been reading these posts as they come out and they are very insightful. You really cut to the heart of the issue! I am looking forward to part 2!

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