For the Epsom-based GP Clare DiPlacito, dealing with other people’s pain and suffering was her job. But when the weight of the past year began to be too much to bear, it drove her to seek solace in God
Like everyone in 2020, I was struggling massively. Coronavirus had meant a huge change to our workload. We were not seeing patients face to face. We were having to diagnose problems over the phone and this just didn’t sit well with me. We weren’t caring for the elderly because they were staying away from the surgery, so we had much less contact with them. We weren’t managing those patients with chronic disease.
I just felt that I wasn’t doing a good job and, as a result, my anxiety levels increased massively. Added to that, I was seeing patients suffer with coronavirus. I was having to send them to a hospital knowing that they may not survive, and that they may not even see their families.
I did not have a religious upbringing. I went to a Catholic school and occasionally we’d go to church at Christmas. When I went to university, a lot of my friends were Christians. I just didn’t get it, though. I thought it was very odd. But when I finished medical school, I met a few doctors who were also Christians, and through one of them, my husband and I went on an Alpha course. We started going to church, to small group, we read the Bible, started praying, but there was no connection; there was no Holy Spirit. I thought it was all an act. I thought: I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing but I don’t feel I’m getting anywhere.
The stresses are still there but I know that God is holding my hand
Then I got a new job and work got in the way. I had two children. My son went to Beavers, which was at our local church. Through that, we went to church parade each month. My son said: “Oh, I really like it. Can we go weekly?” And so we did, for a while. But of course, life moves on. We just fell away.
HITTING ROCK BOTTOM
In October 2020, I hit rock bottom. My son was unhappy at school. I was in a constant state of stress. I couldn’t work any harder and I was in despair.
I prayed to God, honestly and openly. For the first time, I asked God to help me. I just said: “Look, please help me, I cannot do this any more. I don’t know where to go, I need some guidance.” And that’s when I got the response. God said: “It will be OK.” There’s no way I would have said that to myself; that would not have been my natural response at all. I knew that God had been there for me all along – I had just never heard him before.
The next morning, it was like being born again. I was a changed person. I contacted the children’s and families’ worker at the church we used to go to. I reconnected with a Christian friend and we now read the Bible and pray together. I’ve been watching the online services at my local church and I have found that listening to Premier Christian Radio has really helped. I can honestly say that I love it and listen every day. Then I thought: I need to go on an Alpha course again. And that’s how I came across J. John. I saw him speak 20 years ago, when I first started going to church, and then I heard him talking with Nicky Gumbel, who wrote the Alpha course, on a podcast. I contacted him to tell him what had happened to me and he said: “Wow, that’s amazing. What you’ve had is an epiphany.” I thought: Oh, is that what you call it?
A FRESH PERSPECTIVE
Since I opened up my heart to God, I haven’t looked back. I’ve got the presence of the Holy Spirit and it is just wonderful. I know that God is always there and that’s what I didn’t have before. My children have noticed that I am so much more enthusiastic. My son has been reading his Bible, going to the weekly online Bible study classes with our amazing children’s and families’ worker and, about two months ago, said that he had become a Christian too.
There are so many small affirmations. When my daughter applied for college, she got an email saying that she would hear on a particular day. At two minutes to five, she’d had no email and was getting distressed. I’d just got in from work and needed to walk the dog. Just two minutes into my walk, God spoke to me and said: “Check your emails.” As I was in the middle of the walk, I couldn’t check them immediately, but when I got back, the email from the college had arrived at exactly the same time that God has spoken to me. I mean, how amazing is that?
I feel like a teenager in a new relationship now. I have an inner glow and I can’t stop smiling. I have a thirst to learn more about being a Christian. I love it. Knowing that there is a God who you can speak to you, and feeling the Holy Spirit – it just gives me a happiness; you do just feel that you can’t stop smiling. The stresses are still there but I know that God is holding my hand. I don’t need to worry because God has a plan. He loves us and wants the best for us. I didn’t know that before, but I do now.
Claire was speaking to Emma Fowle