The alarm clock goes off. It’s 5:30am. The Man hits the snooze button. That doesn’t stop the inevitable. It goes off again. It’s 5:39am. The Man whispers, “It’s 5:39. Time to get up.”
NNNOOOOOO! Not yet. There is not one morning bone in this body. Feet over the side of the bed, shuffle to the bathroom, and look in the mirror. NNNNOOOOOOOOOOOO! Do I really have to do this again?
I never meant to be a nurse. It was not a burning desire from the time I was a little girl. I did not play at bandaging my little brother up. I didn’t have a toy stethoscope. Sometimes I’m still not sure how I happened.
For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Well, I don’t like this part of the plan anymore! I continue moving. I peek in each room at the stillness of the sleeping. So peaceful, so sweet! Will they miss me this morning? What time will they get up and start their school work? I walk outside to the car. Dark windows in each home tell me that the day hasn’t begun yet. There are a few morning souls out walking, moving….the day will begin soon. But not yet!
I get on the interstate – heading uptown to the building that is eight stories high and takes up three city blocks. Intercity! I think “I’m really not in Kansas anymore, Toto.” Still surprised at that fact! City life – moves at a different pace. Encountering God in the city – is it possible among the homeless, the mental ill, the apathy and neglect. Is He here? Can God still touch hearts and change lives in this environment? I wonder.
Hearts are hardened here. Is mine becoming hard and unpenatrable? I read these words recently. They are about a young boy in the city….When the neglect of an empty refrigerator at home is repeated for weeks, he learns not to depend on home to get his needs met. When the landlord doens’t fix the heater, he thinks this is what landlords do. When his babysitter is the television, which blares all day, he assumes this is how we know what is important. The adults in his life have given up that role…….When he looks up to streetlights that do not work, he passively accepts it. The city’s neglect has shaped his expectations. When his streets are unswept by the city, neglects for more than forty years, he in not offended by the garbage. He throws it there himself. This is just how the streets are. This is his normal. It has been defining itself since his birth, and he has not known it. Encounter God in the City: Onramps to Personal and Community Transformation by Randy White.
Oh no! Tears… they flow. The calluses are sliced away. Can God use me to change someone’s “normal”?
At the hospital, a nurse calls. Mrs. ?’s heart rate in room 387 is 200. I rush to the room. I pray. Lord, help me to see with Your eyes and feel with Your heart. Help me to know what to do in this situation. The day has begun despite my sleepiness, despite that fact that these non-morning bones aren’t ready to move. We intervene for Mrs. ? – her heart rate comes down. Gnarled hands of the old reach up and pat me on the cheek. She smiles a toothless smile, her watery cataract filled eyes say the words that she can’t form. I reach up and hold her hand still on my cheek and smile down at her.
The day continues…. I look at my phone while waiting. I read these words. “Gray hair is the crown of splendor, it is attained by the righteous.” Proverbs 16:31. Posted by Middle Sis. Hhhmmm…she must be thinking about me (the gray hair) 🙂
Then I read this….Henri Nouwen wrote “Compassion is not a bending toward the underprivileged from a privileged position; it is not reaching out from on high to those who are less fortunate below; it is not a gesture of sympathy or pity for those who fail to make it in the upward pull. On the contrary compassion means going directly to those people and places where suffering is most acute and building a home there.”
Walking down the hall in front of me….a toddler with her mother. So adorable; ruffled socks spilling over little tennis shoes, cute green dress toddling down the hall. Eating her doritos (at 9am). She drops her bag and reaches over to get it. Oooppps. Down she goes. Mom keeps walking, right past the toddler, right past the trash on the floor. She calls over her shoulder for the girl to hurry up. I pray. Lord, help me to see with Your eyes and feel with Your heart. Help me show kindness when I really want to show frustration. I squat down even though these non-morning bones might have trouble getting back up. Reaching over to help the toddler up. She smiles between tears – tears streaking through the dirt and grim of a face that hasn’t felt soap and water on it yet today – and begins to toddle away; towards her mother. She looks back at me. “Do you want to throw your trash away.” She looks at it…I hand it to her and show her the trash can. Her mother just watches. She toddles over and throws the bag away. She turns and smiles at me again. Big eyes searching for words of kindness that will show her that she is good. She hears the words that her heart needs so desparately to hear and giggles.
Heading to the ER, I hear and smell before I see. The yelling, cursing, and slurred speech. The smell of alcohol and other things that I won’t mention. I walk in the room and move to the side of the bed. I pray. Lord, let me see with Your eyes and feel with Your heart. Help me to not be fearful but to be bold for You. Alone with dark voices that he can’t get rid of. Long beard caked with grim. He yells at no one that I can see. He curses back at voices that I can’t hear. I gently reach over and take his hand in mine. Startled, he turns toward me. Defensive, ready to strike. I smile. I see the military tattoo on his forearm and wonder what his eyes have seen; did he see more than his mind could handle? It doesn’t really matter what words are said as long as they are quiet and gentle. Every scripture verse that I can think of comes out. Gentle words calm him. The first words out of his mouth that make sense are “Can I have something to eat?” He gets food and a shower before moving on. He smiles a decayed smile and waves as he leaves on the stretcher.
It’s only noon.
What else will I pray before this shift is over? Lord, help me to see with Your eyes and feel with Your heart – over and over again!
Is it hard to be a homeschool mom and work outside the home? Yes. Is it possible? Yes. Have words from well meaning stay-at-home moms caused me to feel like I am not a good mom? Yes. Do I want to be at home with my girls? Yes. Do I want to be a nurse? That one isn’t as easy to answer. Does God have me exactly where He wants me for this part of our journey? Absolutely
Can God move among the elderly, the homeless, the mental ill? Can He move among the apathy and the neglect? Can hearts be changed in the city? Yes, He can and He does!
Mine was changed today!