1. Kunnen, Katherine E. E.

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As the toll of COVID-19 continues to weigh heavily on nurses, the practice of Sabbath, setting aside regular time exclusively for God, remains indispensable to prevent burnout, despair, and staff turnover. Yet, any practice that requires a change in behavior also requires a change in thinking, as Scripture notes: "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2, NIV).

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First, we must acknowledge how the culture has influenced our profession and our thinking. Excellent nursing requires time: time to sit with an anxious patient, time to cry with a patient over test results, time to feed a patient dinner, time to observe the subtle changes in appearance that could signify a decline in health. How often have you wished for more time with your patient, felt rushed through a task, or found yourself practically running down the hall to get something done? In part, this is because our culture worships productivity; we are bound by low staffing levels for the sake of profit or other systemic problems. However, lack of time also can occur if we are unable to prioritize appropriately. All nurses are taught prioritization, but not all nurses prioritize through the lens of faith.


The wise writer of Ecclesiastes 3:1 observed that "there is a time for everything" (NIV). How does this apply practically to an advanced practice nurse? New Testament writer Mark records how a Jewish ruler asked Jesus to come heal his dying daughter. Along the way, a suffering woman's touch stopped Jesus. Did Jesus rush onward because Jairus's daughter was dying? Did he pause long enough to delegate to another disciple the task of finding out who touched him? No! He stopped and healed the woman, which seems reasonable until, as a health professional, you recall the context. Would you have stopped and healed that woman who had lived 12 years with manageable bleeding while a child was near death? Beyond the case of medical prioritization turned upside down, what is most profound is that Jesus did not allow himself to be hurried. I can hear you thinking, Okay, but that's Jesus! I thought you had practical advice.


Through the Holy Spirit, we have been gifted with the awesome ability to connect with the thoughts of God (1 Corinthians 2:10-11; Ephesians 1:17-20). Time is finite, and we cannot do everything. We need the Holy Spirit to help us prioritize what is most important. However, we cannot do this unless we have already set aside time for silence and solitude, seeking what God prioritizes. This reminds us of the pivotal nature of Sabbath. The practice of Sabbath is many things. It is a boundary and resistance to making productivity and money into idols. It is an act of humility, of honoring our finitude which recognizes we are not God. We have human limitations. Sabbath is a habit of saying no and an art of discerning what to say no to.




* Read Mark 1:35-37 and Luke 5:15-16. How did Jesus prioritize solitude and Sabbath?


* STOP (Stop, Think, Observe, Pray). When you find yourself rushing through a task, your step hurried, or tightness in your chest-stop. What is causing your need to hurry?


* How can you incorporate prayer into your schedule while waiting for a lab result or a patient in the bathroom?


Name one area where you can say no. Take that step. Is there another step in the wings?