By Farrah Pierre
Your 4-year old son was just diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. A 2-week-old baby was diagnosed with failure to thrive. Your 10-month old twins are both in the hospital with RSV (a serious respiratory virus that occurs in young children), each in a separate room. One twin is getting much better, yet your other twin is needing high amounts of oxygen. The nurses and doctors say you cannot feed him because he is working too hard to breathe. Your 14-year-old daughter is in the hospital iwth anorexia because she refuses to eat at home and is not in the hospital's eating disorder program to be stabilized before going to an outpatient program. You were just informed that your 8-year old grandson will need emergency surgery. Your parents just told you and your younger siblings that Christmas will be spent in the hospital this year.
These are real life examples of what patients and families in the hospital experience every day. As a nurse, I interact with children and families going through these exact experiences during some of the scariest and most stressful times in their life. As a Christian nurse, how can I share God’s love during these difficult times?
I have not been working as a nurse for all that long—more than four months to be exact—so I don’t have millions of examples to share. I have the opportunity to work at Children’s Hospital with (as we like the say at Children’s) “the most amazing people on earth.” Kids are fun, they are resilient, and transparent. They say what they feel and feel what they say. Kids have a way of teaching us adults things that cannot be learned any other way. They are strong, they are (mostly) innocent, beautiful, and God’s wonderful creations deserving of love.
As a new nurse, it can be difficult because I am still learning the ropes of the new job. I work alongside other experienced nurses who help teach me practical skills (diagnosis, medications, IVs) to be able to care for patients. However, as a Christian, we have the perfect Teacher Who reflects love and how we should love others. I believe love is one of the fundamental characteristics a nurse needs to be able to fully care for patients and families.
One practical way I have been able to show love to my patients and families is by listening. Often parents and guardians may feel like no one is listening to them or they just need someone to talk to during this vulnerable time. As a nurse, I am able to be an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on. I have also had the opportunity to give encouragement to patients and families. In the demanding profession of nursing I trust and lean on God to give me strength, and with His strength I am able to encourage others and share that same strength to help them during difficult times.
There are so many other practical ways I am able to share God’s love with patients and families: asking them if they need anything, letting them know that there is a free meal provided to families in the hospital, a simple touch, a short prayer. You’d be surprise what even an Olaf (from Frozen) or Minion sticker can do to shift a child and parent’s mood.
I know that as I continue to grow and care for children and families in nursing, I need God’s wisdom and guidance to be able to handle certain situations and to share His love. Nursing can be difficult and as a new nurse still learning, it is sometimes tough to perform complex nursing skills while reflecting the fruit of the Spirit – love. But I believe that God is with me and He “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us”. (Ephesians 3:20).