1. Sweat, Mary T.

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A few years ago our local Nurses Christian Fellowship group wanted to sponsor a continuing education workshop. We sent out a list of suggested topics, and the overwhelming choice was "Rediscovering the Joy in Nursing." This was a sign to me that joy might be a need in nursing, both personally and professionally.

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I have been reading the exhortation of Pope Francis on the "Joy of the Gospel." Many of his comments line up with nursing. He mentions that an evangelizer (nurse) must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral! "Let us recover and deepen our enthusiasm and delightful and comforting joy even when it is in tears that we must sow" (Exhortation of the Holy Father Francis, 2013, p. 58).


In many ways our work place is a mission field. Francis Grim, the founder of Healthcare Christian Fellowship, regularly proclaimed that "more people pass through the hospitals of the world than through churches" (Hammond, 2005). We in nursing have a privileged opportunity to share the love and joy of Christ in our work.


Pope Francis writes we must avoid the temptation that stifles us into a defeated attitude and turns us into querulous and disillusioned pessimists, or "sourpusses." He points out we are called to radiate light and communicate life, but we may find ourselves caught up in things that generate only darkness and inner weariness that slowly consumes all our zeal. He repeats, "Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of joy" (Exhortation of the Holy Father Francis, 2013, p. 58).


What are some of the attitudes and situations that steal our joy? One is the spirit of defeatism and an attitude of being overwhelmed, feeling the job or problem is too big. This can lead to a loss of hope. A second stealer is a loss of love and relatedness, such as having a weak relationship with God and not getting along with others. A third stealer is the lack of vision resulting in loss of our personal meaning/purpose and forgetting the reason we went into nursing.


What are tools we can use to rediscover our joy or keep us from allowing our joy to be stolen?


1. For the spirit of defeatism: Rely on the power of the Word of God and prayer. The apostle Paul exhorts us to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21, NIV). We can pray for ourselves in situations and also enlist prayer from others to replenish our joy so we are able to face and overcome our circumstances and be strong. Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV) reminds us, "Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."


2. For loss of love and relatedness: Mother Teresa says, "A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love" (Egan & Egan, 1989, p. 109). Have we become lukewarm with hearts no longer burning with love? It may be time to spend quality time with God and in prayer to renew our source of joy. We may need to look at our relationships with others and with God and spend some extra time with difficult co-workers or patients (or praying for them!) so we can develop a more loving relationship.


3. For loss of vision: Mother Teresa reminds us to "Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of Christ Risen" (Egan & Egan, 1989, p. 103). Have we forgotten who and whose we are? It is vitally important to remember God has a plan for our lives and has called us into nursing for a purpose.



In response to the original question, yes, spiritual care is impacted by joy.We bring the healing love of Jesus to those we serve through our joy. Sometimes though, we need to rediscover that joy to be effective spiritual caregivers.


Egan E., Egan K. (1989). Prayer time with Mother Teresa. New York, NY: Bantam. [Context Link]


Exhortation of the Holy Father Francis. (2013). The joy of the Gospel. Boston, MA: Pauline. [Context Link]


Hammond P. (2005, May 21). In memorium: Francis Grim. Retrieved from[Context Link]