As an RN, I spent many years working as a bedside nurse in the field of cardiology. This covered taking care of patients who had cardiac workups (back in the days when you stayed overnight for cardiac catheterization) to bypass surgery. I also took care of patients who had exacerbations of cardiac conditions like congestive heart failure and also those who awaited heart transplants.
We even had a unit in my hospital where patients actually had to stay hooked up to a Left Ventricular Assistive Device or LVAD. Many years ago, this was about the size of a large college dorm refrigerator and literally became the patient’s automated heart pump. I loved my calling so much that I had scrubs, jackets and accessories stamped or stitched with, “I fix broken hearts.”
About 12 years ago, I switched to inpatient rehabilitation nursing. This was a different learning curve as I learned to care for patients recovering from strokes, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, amputations, etc. In addition, the care was a 180 degree flip from what I was used to. Instead of asking patients what I could do for them, I began to ask how I could assist them.
You see, the name of the game in inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation is helping the patient obtain the greatest degree of independence. Ultimately, we hoped to restore them to complete independence.
But the angels of the rehabilitation hospital are not the nurses. We hand those halos over to the physical, occupational and speech therapists. These are the extremely knowledgeable, motivated and compassionate group of medical professionals that really can make the impossible possible again.
I was explaining all of this to my son this past Sunday just hours after hearing Pastor Brian’s message on control. As I was talking, I heard myself say this:
“But it’s not an easy path for any patient. The therapist can work miracles, but the patient has to work with the therapists and follow directions. It can be hard work and painful sometimes, but…”
…and then EUREKA!
Brian’s illustration of the concentric layers of control we, as Christians, are willing to give God, came to my mind, and I found myself pinpointing my faith journey with this useful tool. I decided to interview myself and take a look at my attitude and actions with some pointed questions:
Do I take my decisions to God before acting?
Do I allow the world to distract me from keeping my eyes on Jesus?
How often have I relied on my own abilities (or lack thereof) and not looked to the power of God?
After this internal exam of how much control I was willing to relinquish, I felt conviction, and I suddenly realized the irony of my situation. As a rehabilitation nurse, I have encouraged hundreds of patients to trust in their therapists. After all, the only goal of therapy is to restore patients to their best life despite the circumstances thrown at them.
But that can only happen if the patient allows them to do so.
That entails letting go of what the patient feels is the last vestige of control over their current situation—in some cases, their dignity—and trusting in those who have the knowledge and ability to make it happen.
I cannot speak for everyone, but I think for me, this boils down to a mixture of trust, self-importance and dignity, versus humility. If I talk the talk of trusting in God, then I must walk the walk. No decision is too trivial to bring to God—if it affects the pathway of your life, it’s worth involving Him.
Even things like the words that come out of our mouths, whether or not we take a new job, if we should continue to date someone, or if we should quit a job to answer what we believe to be a calling from God. We can trust God with every decision.
And dignity vs. humility? How much more dignity could I obtain than to claim to be a child of God and then humbly act like one?
I’ve often referred to myself as a work in progress. Well, I think it’s time to pick up the pace.