I Just Had To Meet Them

Yesterday my friend stepped into the world of critical care nursing. We work in the same hospital and now will work in the same department. We spoke for a few minutes last night…about first day nerves, who she met and her orientation schedule.

It’s scary business, this moving outside of your comfort zone.

As I hung up the phone I felt compelled by the profession — the call — of nursing. Passion welled up inside my heart. It wasn’t always this way. For many years nursing did not feel like a calling to me. It felt like a job.

Perhaps it was simply getting older or leaving nursing altogether for several years, but my appreciation for it has deepened.  Whereas the choice to attend nursing school when I was 18 seemed one of logistics and almost convenience, the choice to return at 36 was one of quiet whispers.

Whispers to my heart. Breeze of Creator blowing against my thoughts, desires and plans.

Almost two years now since I took my own giant leap into the world of critical care nursing. It has affected me in deeply meaningful ways. This is how I described it recently:

Nursing is special…sharing intense moments with other humans…the power in it…people look to you for support, guidance and understanding in their scariest moments…coming so close to the broken in body, mind and spirit…truly part of the healthcare team, giving input to physicians as they make decisions…witness to death and grief…the joy at recovery…caring for people at their very worst..outside of their minds with addiction…the aftermath of suicide attempts…the shock and helplessness at sudden loss…I feel it is a ministry of compassion and mercy…I feel like it’s a humbling weight and a privilege…there are few jobs like it in this world. That is how I feel about it.

So much of what I write seems to circle back to how I treat others. Not just how I treat others, but what I think about them. What lies beneath my good Christian behavior. The thoughts and reactions that bubble up inside my heart before I squelch them with my own will.  Deep inside…beneath the surface…compassion or contempt?

Here’s the thing.

What changes my mind about people…is people.

I can talk a good talk. I’ve been in church all of my life and I know the drill. Even though I agreed in theory about Jesus’ command to love others and show mercy and compassion, I had little idea what that meant outside of a small group or sermon. I mean, I was nice to people. I’ve never been a sign-carrying, hate-mongering bigot. Sometimes the idea of love and compassion played out in my mind as a movie trailer. Oh, that sounds and looks good!  But never buy a ticket.

For me, the theoretical version of things has come to an abrupt halt. I’m not sickened by broken bodies or perverse living, I’m sickened by the perverse religious response broken lives often receive.

People change my mind about people. Meeting them. Caring for them. Understanding the back-story.

Human beings cannot be thinly sifted to fit inside labels. We cannot package our intent toward them based upon our agreement with their choices.

I smile a faint, sad smile.

God is the judge of mankind.

And God is the judge of me.

Healthy people don’t need a doctor — sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners. Mark 2:17 NLT

Now go and learn the meaning of this scripture:  ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.  Matthew 9:13 NLT

How I treat the most fragile and broken in spirit is often evidence against my own sense of self-righteousness. My inability or refusal to identify with others is telling.

People changed my mind about people.

I just had to meet them.

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