1. Schmidt, Karen
  2. Lyle, Irene

Article Content

Sometimes the end of a shift, a day, a clinical rotation, a course of study, really does feel like the end. Physical and emotional energy are drained. Empathy is exhausted. People's voices and technology's babble are harsh, strident. In doing the work of nursing, we often leave our jobs feeling emotionally battered, maybe even physically bruised.


How well does Jesus understand this state of being worn out and walked over? His time on earth put him in frequent contentious situations with individuals and groups who disagreed with him, showed disrespect, argued, and harassed him. He persisted in reaching out to heal, touch people whom others avoided, cover neglected persons with mercy, and speak truthful, encouraging words.


There was cost for Jesus in his work. He needed to recoup from the demanding time and exertion, too. How did he do it? If he had lived in our time, would Jesus have gone on a run or a walk, with soothing music via earbuds? Might he have journaled about the tough situations and nasty people that crowded his day? Would he brew a cup of tea and read blogs?


Jesus' antidote was time alone, talking to his Father (Matthew 14:23; Mark 1:35). He pushed away from the shore in a boat to find quietness (Matthew 14:13) and took a nap when opportunity came (Luke 8:22).


Those are choices we can make-means to enable us to release the hard things and regain rest and balance. Aside from what we try to do to cope with the hard and costly work of caring that nursing exacts from us, we need to seek and receive good gifts from God.


Can you hear the Good Shepherd calling you by name? He asks you and me to follow him to quiet, green spaces, where there is food for our spirits. Rest beside still waters-soothing and calming. He intends to restore our souls.


Sometimes receiving God's good gifts means taking the long view, reminding ourselves that "inwardly we are being renewed day by day, for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all" (2 Corinthians 4:16-17, NIV). The apostle Paul also reminds us, "Since it is by God's mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart" (2 Corinthians 4:1).


The cost is high for sharing in people's healing and in offering mercy and grace. Our motivation regularly needs renewing and reorienting. Christian nurses give and care as a means of serving God, acting on behalf of Jesus in this time and place. We rightly keep our focus pointed to God, fixing our eyes on Jesus. We are refreshed by him in return.


The energy, the focus, the determination that we exert in our nursing roles is considerable. Each shift, patient, and tough relational encounter is like a tollbooth, where we must pay to move forward. Many times, the cost of a day's nursing work is steep. We can keep going with devotion and intentionality only because we rely on our Creator and Sustainer.


So, we write poetry. We seek out and absorb the purity of nature. We listen and offer praise, even perhaps a song.


"But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress" (Psalm 59:16, ESV).


Irene's poem reminds us of the long view amidst caring for others.



By Irene Lyle


You learn to look at blood


at holes oozing green


at wounds tunneling to the bone


and not blink.


You listen to the talk-


"How long have you been a nurse?


Have you done this before?


Get out! You don't know what you are doing."


All this and we go on.


It exacts a toll.


One day there's nothing left.


You just stare and say


"because the doctor ordered it."


Who will bandage our wounded souls-


transfuse our bleeding spirits?


Who will hold the warrior when the fight is done?


No one to turn to except the Lord.








Shake off the cameras.