"Show me Your strong love in wonderful ways, O Savior of all those seeking Your help against their foes. Protect me as You would the pupil of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings as You hover over me." Psalm 17:7-8

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Honored to Serve

I did not anticipate a “good” cry in the dentist’s chair this afternoon!!  Tired and having already opened the flood gate briefly beforehand, I must have forgotten to tighten the valve when I left home for the short drive to the dentist’s office.  With x-ray film awkwardly situated in my mouth and a camera brought near my cheek, I tuned into the song playing on the office radio:  Let Faith Arise.  Quite unexpectedly, the song opened the gate, and from then on I could not put the lid back on my emotions.  While letting faith arise, emotions rose simultaneously, threatening to choke me, spilling from the corners of my eyes, filling my nose, running down my throat so that I couldn’t breathe, while on the flat of my back.  Above me, two concerned hygienists peered into my mouth and distorted face warm and compassionate.  There I lay, flushed and awash in mist from the instrument used to jack hammer plaque from between my teeth.  I recalled giving oral care to my two patients the night before, and all the particulars of the experience.  I joined my patients briefly in that dental chair.  And, with tears came a stream of thoughts I wished I could postpone dealing with until later.  I tried every trick in the book: focusing on some element of the ceiling or equipment around me, controlling my breathing, or intentionally running into a happy memory to trick my emotions.  Nothing worked.  My lip quivered, meanwhile an occasional small trickle turned into a steady stream of crocodile tears, and then my chest started to heave, until the scene was almost comical!!  The two hygienists blotted my eyes and face with tissues and bib, doing their best to comfort without knowing what on earth was wrong with me.  I knew how they felt, for I’d been in their shoes too. 

The river ran past my ears and followed the curve of my neck.  I felt tears drop from the charm on my necklace and pool on the chair behind my head.  On being asked if they could do anything for me, I gave a brief explanation, something to the effect that I’d worn my professional face several nights running and was trying my best to recover it until a better time to process.  Thankfully, I restrained myself from asking for a hug – how silly – but really that is what I felt I needed in the moment, and prayed desperately for FROM THE LORD.  “Please, Holy Spirit, just hug me in this place like Mom would were she here for me to spill my heart out on her shoulder.  Do it invisibly, not through strangers, please.  I am so embarrassed.”  Then I waited, basically with all walls down, vulnerable, when least I wanted to be.  I waited on the Lord.  

Extremely sensitive to my desire yet difficulty in regaining composure, the hygienist asked if I would like to sit up for a minute and have a drink of water.  She brought me a welcomed glass of cold water, no ice, to quell the wildfire of emotions consuming me.  Water swirled turbulent in the hammered glass and I proceeded to drink.  Swallowing hard I noted a cold lump forming in my throat.  “Please God, help me swallow this water down and emotions with it, and see me through this most humiliating of dental visits!”  I fought throwing up for a moment or two, but then mercy rushed in to save and momentarily contained the fire.  I thought to myself as the kind hygienist polished my teeth, “This is the side of nursing few see, the hidden work that takes place generally when no one is looking.  As a nurse I’ve learned pressure internalized either hardens the heart, or by the sheer grace of God tenderizes it, conforming a weak vessel seeking to carry the image of God into patient’s rooms and lives into a vessel fit for honor – honor that comes from the Lord Himself, and at times from no one and no place else!!”

Nursing: Offering Living Water to All Who Thirst

I’ve realized how very much I like to do things well – perfectly in fact.  To top it off with a cherry, I also crave receiving like a little child, an occasional (okay, to be honest maybe frequent) “Great job!!”  “Well done”  “I’m so proud of you.”  In my little girl mind, these messages equate with “I love you – I’m crazy about you.”  “You please me”  “I like everything about you.”  “You matter.  You are valuable.  You are an asset.”  Best of all, “I want to be with you always.”  I say this by way of confession, really.  You see I’ve been struggling to “feel” the work I do is noticed – SEEN – by that I mean both the heart behind it and the effort expended, and more so the sacrifices required and the refinement of character God works in through my pouring out in the workplace.  To deny this little girl desire for commendation would be to stop short of receiving what God Himself longs to give (no matter my performance, by the way!).

I find it interesting that God has called me to nursing, and placed me in an environment where perfection is expected, and regularly demanded – after all, people’s very lives are at stake.  God often comes in through the back door, or works in ways that appear “upside down”.  What I’m driving at is that the Lord has approached delivering me from the chains of unholy perfectionism by promoting me into a profession where seemingly what gains the most attention are one’s imperfections, mistakes, and need for improvement.  Grace can seem foreign in such a place and the requirements frustratingly impossible, especially for one who strives to please through performance due to aforementioned reasons.  And so, along comes God with a heart to teach me about honor from all angles.  His motive:  to bestow honor, to accomplish the impossible in and through me, to love on His little girl and be SEEN through her as she nurses for His pleasure.

Honored to Serve in His Shadow,

For more inspirational reading, please visit Spiritual Sundays at: http://www.bloggerspirit.blogspot.com/


  1. I have struggled somewhat with perfectionism but discovered a long time ago that I will never be perfect. At some point I realized that the only one I really needed to impress is not impressed when I do things perfectly, but when I try to do my best. He knows my heart and understands my frailty. Like your dental hygienist we need to be sensitive to others and do what we can to make help them. Sounds like you are right where God wants you to be. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  2. Thank you, Charlotte. You "nurse" by virtue of taking the time to read and comment on what others have been learning from the Lord and experiencing with Him. Thanks for investing!!