Thursday, February 9, 2012

people help the people

Life is full right now. The contrast between last fall and winter is unreal, seriously, black and white, night from day. Literally, I've been working more days this past month than nights. Refreshing moments are found in between work, to play and cook and entertain friends and see family and watch Downton Abbey and go to church. Since working as a nurse, I've wrestled with my understanding of life calling. I believe God calls us to work in places where our strengths and passions meet His needs in the world. Work, for every person, can be used for God's kingdom. I'm not sure that is as simplistic as I imagined in college. Work does not define me nor will it sustain me. Work cannot measure my worth. Work cannot fulfill me. Only God can do this. My successes and failures at work do not validate or invalidate my ministry. When I say ministry, I'm referring to the way in which God asks me to act in the world, to experience His love and transformation, and in thanks be missional, expressing His love to others and taking His Church to the world.

When I look at my career to be affirming and rewarding, not only am I disappointed, but I become bitter and ungrateful. This has been my struggle. Learning to rest in God, seeking his love and affirmation. Learning to care for my patients and fellow staff with boundaries so I do not become slaves to their expectations. To react with God's love when patients are upset and angry. It's hard to keep my mind like Him. "God, seriously, these people today are not being awesome. What do I do?" I ask His Spirit that dwells in me, "Be my glasses, correct my vision, help me see through your love and compassion." Because my ministry and work isn't about me or how it makes me feel. I must remind myself of how God sees them, they are not their circumstances, but who they really are is rooted in who He is. They are His children just like me, no more important and no less worthy. They are loved.

I read physicians, social workers, and other nurses notes describing the hopelessness, broken relationships, sexual and physical abuse of my patients. My heart weeps. If only they knew how God sees them, if only they knew how God loves them, they are His children, and this world has not treated them in His light. My heart breaks for the fullness of life they are missing, the healing God can give them, and love God has for them. Depression is barren of hope. Addiction is slavery. They are His. I must be His hands in this world, loving and caring. God, they need your freedom.

Slowly, I am giving away my need to feel excited to go to work or comfortable at work. I'm realizing my strengths are not based off what makes me happy or content. That is not discussed enough in life calling and strengths tests. God gives us gifts not so that we can be fulfilled but so that His work can be done. In this process I am being transformed which creates fullness. But quite frankly, it's hard. I wrestle with my fears daily. I am desperately asking God to shift my mind to gratitude, thanking Him for the good and difficult. Regardless if I see any change in my patients, I remain responsible for praying for them, being patient and caring, taking time to listen, and inviting God's Spirit into our facility. This is my calling for this season.

"I wonder too... if the rent in the canvas of our life backdrop, the losses that puncture our world, our own emptiness, might actually become places to see.

To see through to God.

That that which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To Him. To the God whom we endlessly crave."

- Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts


  1. Emilie!
    Your words are beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing, you might even send me back to nursing... ;)

  2. thanks, jath, for the encouragement! no, no, oliver is a way better patient :) maybe part-time, for fun or something.