Note: I wrote this blog prior to the Miss America pageant this past weekend but I have been waiting to post so I could include a copy of the gorgeous painting referenced however, in light of the new #nursesunite movement spun from ignorant comments made on The View...I am going to share early and I will include the picture once I get back from traveling. I might not carry a stethoscope every day but I very much recognize the "talent" involved in nursing. This blog was originally going to be titled "Death Angel" but it definitely describes My View on My Nursing Career...
The first Christmas I was a nurse, my sister gave me a painting of a beautiful angel standing in a fiery pit of flames against a backdrop of a bright blue sky. She said it was her interpretation of what I did each day as a nurse. She equated the angel with the hope surrounding pediatric critical care nursing but she painted the environment as a fire pit of hell since I worked with so much death and dying. The painting was unique and different but I loved it. It still hangs in my home office as a reminder of her wisdom and insight into my career. Almost 11 years ago and her perspective is still so very relevant.
Several weeks ago a local news story captured a glimpse of pediatric congenital heart nursing and I happened to be featured in the story. (Link to article/segment: News Story) I was a bit overwhelmed and very humbled by the article because I was under the impression the article was going to focus on the American Heart Association’s Annual Heart Walk. The article seemed to highlight more the bond between a nurse and a pediatric patient battling congenital heart disease. And although the work I do as a nurse manager each and every day is more focused on taking care of the nurses that care for patients, just a few days after the story aired, I found myself right back in that fiery pit depicted by my sister. In a relatively rare occasion as a nurse manager, I found myself actually doing patient care and helping another nurse care for a dying patient. And I was quickly taken back to the painting of the angel.
As nurses who work with dying children, we really do work in a hell-like setting. The torment, pain and suffering surrounding both our patients and their parents is like nothing else on this earth. I cannot put into words the way it feels to kneel at a patient’s bedside and pray for a miracle with a mother because you’ve reached a point where medicine cannot heal. Or how it feels to start doing CPR because a child no longer has a self-sustaining heart rate (Just a note: this particular intervention makes you feel like a ravaged, cruel beast more so than an angel or savior). Or the overwhelming defeat you feel while handing over a deceased baby to be held by his/her parents for the very last time. There is no way to describe these experiences but ‘hell’ is a pretty good attempt at a description.
I have absolutely no idea why I went into pediatric nursing. And although I work in a pretty fiery pit…I choose to focus on the bright blue sky. I choose to focus on the hope and the healing. I choose to focus on the little ways God can use me in this field to help bring a family through what will likely be the most challenging, painful, and difficult time in their lives. I choose to let God use me. I choose to focus on the bonds I form with nurses, patients and families. Because honestly, these bonds are like no other and I would not trade them for anything in the world. As a nurse, you often find yourself going through experiences with patients and families that no one else in the world understands – even others in their own family do not experience what a nurse goes through with the family - the nurse travels uncharted waters. It is such a special, unique bond and for some reason God has always given me a heart for it. And even though it often feels like the outskirts of hell, I am humbled that the Lord chose me for this small honor on earth.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.
A nurse, an angel and a fire pit,
Last weekend I attended a dear friend’s wedding. It was a lovely weekend filled with many festivities that culminated with a couple of “I do”s. At the beginning of the week, I let the bride know I would be covering her and her fiancé in prayer throughout the week. Because let’s face it…the wedding, that’s the easy part. That’s the fun part. That’s the part where you get all dressed up and share special moments with friends and family. The marriage. That’s different. That’s the hard part. The marriage is where the rubber meets the road and things get real…real fast. When the music stops, the marriage is what is left. And it is so often overshadowed by the wedding. Our society has actually gotten so carried away with the “wedding” they are actually diagnosing brides with post-ceremony depression. The bride goes through withdrawal from being the center of attention and goes into depression. How absolutely ridiculous is that?!? (Disclaimer to this most recent bride…I think this is near impossible for you since you pretty much planned the most intact wedding in less than 3 months while traveling the world from work. Plus, you aren't self-centered enough to suffer from post-wedding depression....just saying)
At the end of the day, the wedding is fairly meaningless. It’s a party. The marriage is what will stand the test of the time. And let’s face it; it takes a whole lot of prayer to jump on the train. Thankfully we have guidance on how to be successful in the role of husband and wife. (Disclaimer…I have yet to be a successful wife. – if ever there were such a thing. This particular blog includes my thoughts, feeling and lessons I’ve learned on my journey and more importantly, the way I will strive to be in the future.)
I’ve always loved the verses about submission and love as they relate to marriage and the Church in Ephesians:
Ephesians 5:21-26, 31-33
And further, you will submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. You wives will submit to your husbands as you do to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of his body, the church; he gave his life to be her Savior. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives must submit to your husbands in everything. And husbands you must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church. He gave up His life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God’s word…As the Scriptures say, ‘A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife and the two are united into one.’ This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself and the wife must respect her husband.
And I also believe these verses are often misunderstood. Several weeks ago, the pastor at my church gave an amazing sermon on these verses and on how God designed husband and wife to interact within a marriage. It was one of the first times I really considered the “needs” of husband and wife by design within the marriage relationship.
God created women with an unique need to be loved – enter husband to love his wife with his entire being. And God created man with an unique need to be respected – enter wife to respect him through heartfelt submission. And by submission, I do not mean “Dear husband, I will do whatever pleases you…I am your servant forever!” I think God meant, “Dear husband, I will respect and honor you as the man in my life. Love, Your Wife”. Submission isn’t about servanthood, it’s about honor and respect. And as long as the husband keeps loving and the wife keeps respecting, the unity is blessed and as intended. And when a husband and wife come together to meet each other’s unique needs, you have marriage as outlined by God. An unity where two people are one. I think the unity breaks down when love and respect stray from the relationship. In a way, the relationship doesn’t work without both elements. The marriage bond is weakened when the needs of husband and wife aren’t met. I really believe keys to a successful marriage all come down to love and respect.
A wedding is supposed to celebrate the start of a marriage. The start of a journey. A treacherous journey that is both beautifully simple and challenging at the same time. So as my dear friend and her new husband set off on their journey, I continue to cover them in prayers. Prayers for a marriage built on relentless love and respect and that those two elements hold tight their bond of marriage.
Weddings, marriage and a couple disclaimers,
Just a few reflections about everything God is teaching me in this life...a journey deeper into His purpose for my life.