Saturday, April 27, 2013

Patients and Patience

Today was a very. long. day. 
I had two classes in the morning, worked my usual 6-hour shift at my normal job, and then had just enough time to run home, eat dinner, change into my scrubs, and go to my volunteering shift at the hospital (which I got home from at midnight). 

It wasn't an easy shift, either - we had a psych patient (which is always interesting) and two others who were just extremely difficult. Looooong night pulled together in one statement: it was exhausting

One of my patients in particular really tested me. 
She wasn't an awful person, or anything - she was older, quite confused and disoriented, and she kept getting up out of her bed and wandering around her room. Which usually wouldn't be a problem, except that she was a fall risk patient, so every time she got out of bed an extremely urgent-sounding alert would go off in the nurses station to let us know that she was up. So I would have to rush in there to make sure she didn't fall down or rip her IV out of her arm, because she would forget to take her IV pole with her while she was walking around. And then, depending on what she was doing, I would have to follow her back and forth around her room, because she was insistent that she did not need to stay in her bed. 

It shouldn't have been as big of a deal as it was - I mean, it's my job to pick up extra slack for the nursing staff and for the other patient care techs, and this woman was definitely adding on extra work. But it took me to the very limits of my capacity for grace. On the outside, I spoke to her respectfully and courteously and patiently; on the inside, I wanted to scream! She wouldn't listen to any instructions that I gave her or comply with anything that I asked her, and she kept trying to dismiss me from the room. Trust me, if I could have just walked out and left her to her own devices, I would have. 

And the more time I spent just trying to get her back into her bed, the worse I felt. I started out just feeling frustrated and impatient, but the more I dwelled on my irritation, the more I started to feel all of the other negative emotions that I have been firmly rebuking for the past few weeks come creeping back. They rose up inside me like a huge wave that has been building and building, slowly creeping up to the shore until it is big enough to crest and, in a great display, crash to the shore. I felt angry, lonely, abused, disappointed, bitter, anxious, betrayed, confused, lost, forgotten. 

And it scared me. I haven't felt those things for weeks - I have been so focused on laying those feelings down to the Lord and trading them for his peace and patience and humility and grace. But as I practically wrestled with my patient tonight, between her IV pole and IV line and tele monitor wires, back and forth between her bed and the bathroom and shutting off alerts and making sure she didn't fall, I clearly recognized the wrestling that was going on in my heart. I could see the enemy swooping into a moment of vulnerability - just a teeny bit of frustration - and capitalizing on my weakness to bring me down in a huge crash of overwhelmingly negative emotions.

But God was there, too. And He reminded me, so so sweetly, that He has already given me victory over those things! My precious Father has already redeemed me from my brokenness - He fought the fight for me. And won it, by a landslide. 
So even though all of those horrible feelings came rushing back in an instant, 
even though I remembered how terrifyingly painful being overcome by those feelings was, 
even though I literally wanted to burst into tears, 

I didn't.

I just let God's victory be real in my life. I know He already overcame this brokenness and devastation for me. So I named each one of the negative emotions I was feeling, laid them at the foot of the Cross, and asked for peace. and patience. and grace. and humility. And God met me right there, in my patient's hospital room, and poured those blessings over me. For once, my situation didn't control my heart - God's heart for me gave me freedom

How marvelous, how boundless, is His perfect love for me. 
And for you. Yes, you!

"Ask, and it will be give to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." - Matthew 7:7

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