Dust.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

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I'm at the end of what has been one of my roughest days as a nursing student. It was hard. So hard that I called Shawn at lunch to say, "I don't think I'm supposed to be a nurse." (I take it back now, don't worry.)

I'm working 12-hour shifts in a trauma unit this semester. It's a very high acuity unit and we get patients from all over the state who are basically experiencing the worst day of their entire lives. They were in car accidents (most of them), or had a terrible fall, or tried to kill themselves. No matter what the cause, it's a traumatic injury from which they may or may not recover.

And there I am in the middle of all of it, trying to deal with the devastation in a healthy way without just existing in a constant state of grief and despair.

This afternoon, I sat in a sterile conference room and watched the faces of a family as a doctor told them their daughter-in-law didn't make it and their son was seriously injured. I thought to myself, "This is not for me." My heart was in my throat and I felt on the verge of a panic attack because really... how do you not put yourself in their shoes? How do you not feel just an ounce of their pain?

There are nurses who can compartmentalize and "leave it at the hospital" and I'm just not there yet. I'm realizing that while my greatest strength is compassion, it also may be my greatest weakness. And it is the reason I will not be a trauma nurse (and you can quote me on that). :)

I've been meditating on Psalm 103 recently, my favorite psalm. The first part tells of how incredible our God is... all of his benefits. He forgives all our sins, heals all our diseases, redeems our life from the pit, and crowns us with love and compassion. It sounds too good to be true, doesn't it?

And then there's this little verse tucked into the middle of the psalm:
"For he knows how we are formed; he remembers that we are dust."

Is there anything more fragile, more weak, more inconsequential than dust? As I looked around at bed after bed of fragile life today, I was reminded of how weak and fleeting life on earth is. I remembered how fragile I am, having such a hard time dealing with the tragedies around me. But then I remembered that He knows how we are formed... because he formed us! He knows how he made me to have more compassion in my heart than I can handle... because he gave that to me! And when I compare myself (the dust) to the strong and mighty God that I know him to be, I am comforted.
I am calmed.
I am helped.

12 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post. A much needed read. It felt like you wrote that to me and I don't even know you. Thank you for sharing!

    I too was blessed with one of those big hearts!

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  2. What a wonderful testimony, thank you for that! And that verse from Psalms is a beautiful reminder. Listen to the song "Beautiful Things" by Gungor, it talks about how God makes beautiful things out of the dust and out of us. This post reminded me of that song!

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  3. What a beautiful post and something I can really relate too. I'm thankful for the compassionate heart I have been given, but it can sometimes feel like a weakness. Thanks for sharing! :)

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  4. needed these beautiful words to remind me of our gracious Father's patience and capability with us-May the God of all comfort and strength fill your cup in this last stretch of school for you!

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  5. Thanks for this post, Whitney. That verse especially encouraged me tonight. It's that verse that most often comes to mind when I need courage and strength in my similar but different work- as a counselor treating not physical but emotional trauma and pain. After a day at the office myself, this post makes me feel like I'm not alone!

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  6. Thanks, friends. I'm so glad I'm not alone in this and that this post wasn't too much of a downer. :) The hope and peace God's word brings is nothing short of amazing.

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  7. I can't thank you enough for this post. I have wanted to write something like this, but am afraid to. I had a horrible time with my Child Psychiatric clinical- sadness and despair and wondering how it is even fair that these children are abused and hurt and in such emotional pain. I feel such a desire to help them and such a huge fear of being inadequate. At the end of the day, my instructor told me that good nurses feel like we feel and the day we stop caring is the day we should quit our job. Trying to be thankful for the opportunity to draw close to God when we feel so overwhelmed. All the best to you.

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    1. Child psych is so hard... I don't even have kid (which I feel like makes it even harder) and it was really difficult. I'm so glad you understand, and from a nursing perspective! :)

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  8. So beautifully put. I cannot even imagine seeing pain/suffering up that close & personal. T & I read this last night & we're just so proud of what you're doing- so humbled & so excited to hear more about what God's teaching you through this huge ministry.

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    1. Thanks Kir! I'm still feeling panicky today as I think about it (the family meeting was one of the milder moments... Ugh). Cannot wait to see you guys next week!

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  9. Thank you so much for this. When so many of us complain about trivial issues in life, I can look around (today!) and say, all the people I love are alive and well. Thank God for that!

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    1. Love that perspective! Sometimes when I feel down and think, "how many things can go wrong?" but then I think, "but how many MORE things are going right?!" and it's always so many more.

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