For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13 NIV
There is a small yet important part of my life that few know much about. Many times it is only because it is difficult to find the words to express this portion of my life. I tuck it away, compartmentalize it and try my best to live life apart from what I experience, what I see. Even so, this part of me can not fully be pushed aside, placed into a neat and tidy box. Sometimes it spills over and overwhelms me.
Most of the time I don’t think people really want to know too much about this part of my life. Yes, they seem genuinely interested when they inquire on what I do for a living. I tell them I am a Pediatric Oncology Nurse. The common response is, “Wow, how do you do that? It must be so sad”. In these moments I freeze. Words do not seem to be enough and they sit stagnant on my tongue. I usually respond with, “I am not sure”, although I am sure. Then the conversation shifts to something more comfortable and I am unable to explain further.
If I was given the opportunity to expand on the how and why, this would be my long answer.
The reasons are complex. My experiences with my patients are interwoven into the fibers of my being and have become a lens in which I see and interact with life and respond in relationships.
Where I work is a special place. It is place where joy and grief intermingle. Where suffering and comfort coexist. Where the lines are blurred between healing and sickness, wholeness and brokenness, hope and despair. Where beauty and ugliness, life and death collide. Where I pour out myself until I feel empty and bone dry but in return I am given the gift of much more.
A place where I constantly come toe to toe with God. Wrestling with the questions of suffering and injustice. Questions that will most likely remain unanswered this side of Heaven.
Yet, it is where I see God most. His power, comfort and love, ever-present and tangible. His peace rests on me. My faith has been challenged, rocked to it’s very core. In my questioning, in the constant underlying grief and when I feel as if I have nothing left to give, He strengthens me. He is my firm and unwavering hope.
For those who would prefer my short but maybe still uncomfortable answer, it is this,
I can NOT do this, NO way, NO how. Not by my own strength.
The only reason I am able to continue doing what I am certain God has called me to do is because,
“I CAN do ALL THINGS through HIM who STRENGTHENS me.” Phil. 4:13
This song by David Crowder entitled “Come As You Are” has brought me a lot of comfort this last week. My favorite line is, “Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t heal”. I am reminded that this is not my Home. My hope is in Jesus. When we hold out our hand, He will grab hold of us and never let us go.
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This post is written in loving memory of a long term patient of mine. A sweet, resilient, beautiful girl who touched so many in her short but full years on this earth. Her courage in the face of great challenges, her fighting spirit, inspired me.
Beautiful girl, your body no longer binds you. You are free. Free to dance, free to run, free to be a child again. You are safe and secure in His loving embrace, healed and whole. I will see you again in Heaven. You and I will dance on the streets that are golden. Fully alive in the warm radiance of His love!
Heavenly Father, I ask that your ever-present, tangible comfort and peace rest on this child’s family. May they find their strength and hope in you alone. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.