Written by Beka Ermel
I received report on a little boy with a terrible infection that progressed to a diagnosis of meningitis. A few days before, he was healthy and acting like a typical two year old, today he lay quietly in bed, moaning only when he was being poked and prodded for an assessment. The family was lovely, but very anxious, as any parents would be in a crisis situation. I had cared for multiple patients that were unable to move or speak due to a late diagnosis of meningitis when they were younger, and I prayed this wouldn’t be the prognosis for my patient.
My heart broke for them as I worked quickly and calmly around restless family members in the room who were unaccustomed to the beeping of the hospital monitors or the routine needle pokes. It was new to them and they looked to me for the slightest bit of reassurance. I couldn’t fix the problem, but I could care for them in a way that made it just a little better. I sat with the mom as she cried, swallowing back tears so I could try to be a calm voice in the midst of chaos. I was a stranger to them but felt an automatic connection because of the dire circumstances that had brought us together.
As I walked home that night after work, I cried. My heart was so broken but so full for them; wanting more than anything to take away the pain and uncertainty they were experiencing. I loved this family, though I had just met them. “Break my heart for what breaks yours” are words I often pray. God was bringing that prayer into reality as I allowed him to fill my heart with a deep compassion for the people around me.
“Mom, I will never be a nurse, I’m not good at science.”
That was my response after trying to select my courses for grade 11. Biology and chemistry were not an option after I had nearly failed grade 10 science the semester before. Even if I was interested in nursing, there was no chance I’d get through the science component of the program to finish a degree. I didn’t know what I wanted to be at the age of 18, but I knew I wanted to get out of school as fast as possible to start a career where I was making a difference but didn’t require much studying.
High school came and went, and afterwards I took a year off to save for university and volunteer for a mission organization overseas. In that year, God revealed to me that His plans for my life were much greater than I had anticipated. It began when I met a woman who had taken adult school courses to get into nursing later in her life, and here I was (18 at the time) and thinking it was too late for me. After that conversation, I stayed up for many nights thinking “nursing would be my ideal job, I’m just not going into it because I don’t think I’m smart enough”.
That didn’t seem like a good enough reason to disregard a career God seemed to be drawing me towards. God was challenging me to take a leap of faith and to rely on Him for the knowledge and capabilities I needed. After miraculous coordination and timing, with many tears and doubts in between, I made it into a nursing program 8 months later. God had his hand in every detail; even when I underestimated my potential, He didn’t give up on me.
My experience throughout nursing school affirmed that God guided me to this career with a purpose in mind. One of those purposes is walking with people through the most critical times of their lives, and caring for them in a way that reflects Jesus. I have my moments of stress and exhaustion, but I pray every day that I may be filled with the spirit to not only acknowledge what my patients are experiencing but to walk with them through it, as Jesus walks with us through our most trying times.
I came into work a week later and was assigned to take care of the same little boy with meningitis. This time he was standing up in his crib looking around with a smile on his face. His MRI came back normal and he was able to go home free of any long-term issues. My heart was soaring as I soaked in the expression of relief on his parents’ faces as we talked about his improvement over the last week. As they prepared to go home, the mom and I hugged, communicating an unspoken appreciation for the impact we shared in each other’s lives.
It’s humbling to know that God chooses to use us to share His love even when we don’t feel adequate. We are made adequate when our strength comes from God Himself, so that His power is made perfect in our weakness.