A Nurse’s Hands

Not long ago I was out at the mall with my son when we passed by a mall kiosk. I was in kind of hurry so I looked down and tried not to make eye contact. It was clear out of my peripheral vision the woman was trying to get my attention. Before I knew it, she waved to my son. Shoot I’m done for now, I thought. I was right, my sweet boy will say hello and talk to just about anyone. He has been this way all of his life. At 3 years old he proudly yelled in Starbucks after a nice older man held open the trash can lid for him, “See mom! Stranger dangers are NICE!” True story and today was no different. The woman asked my son if he was enjoying his summer and I could see she was holding a bottle of luxury hand lotion. Once he was finished giving her a detailed account of his summer, she quickly made eye contact with me and asked if I was interested in trying the lotion, for free, of course. I felt obligated at this point seeing as her and my son were now besties, so I obliged.  

As she began to massage my hands with the thick cream that smelled of lemon and green tea from the $25 a bottle lotion she held, she made a face. “Your hands are very dry! What do you do for a living?” “I’m a nurse,” I answered. She nodded, “That explains it.”

Often unpolished, dry, and cracked from constant handwashing a nurse’s hands are vital to perform an array of tasks. It is a physical and very hands on trade.  A nurse’s hands hold steady as we inject a vaccine into a squirming toddler with gentleness and accuracy.  Hands that guide our stethoscopes over the hearts of babies and the elderly alike. With these hands we squeeze the bulb of a sphygmomanometer to get a precise blood pressure reading on a patient with a splitting headache.  Our hands pass out lifesaving medications, dress wounds, remove stitches, and apply oxygen masks. Our hands have seen more bodily fluid then one would like to admit. These hands have applied pressure to stop bleeds and held urgent lab reports. Hands that cramp up at the keyboard from the massive amount of documentation required and hands that administer chest compressions 2 inches deep during CPR, desperately trying to save a life.

Anyone who has been to a doctor’s office or hospital has witnessed a nurse performing one or all of these tasks, but our hands can tell you stories far more than what meets the eye.

These same hands that perform lifesaving tasks do much more than you will ever learn in nursing school. You see these hands have held a sick child rocking them to sleep when their parents couldn’t be with them. These hands have held the hands of the dying and embraced mourning family members. These hands have brushed the hair of those who could not do so themselves and patiently fed those who could no longer hold a fork. These hands have held story books and played peek a boo trying to make a child smile.

These hands have held the salty tears from our eyes after particularly hard shifts and have been clasped together tightly as we fall on our knees and cry out in prayer for our patients.

I don’t ever expect to be remembered by my patients but if I am, I hope it is for these things and not the skills that are required of me.

I left the mall that day with a bottle of expensive new hand lotion and a smile on my face. At least I know the next time I hold the hand of a patient I will have the softest hands they will have ever held, or at least that’s what the saleswoman told me.

I would love to hear from you! What are some things you hope to be remembered for by your patients?

Pursuing Friendship in the Wake of Rejection

“I gotta go straighten up, I’m having the girls over tonight,” she said as we got off the phone. I sat there with the phone pressed against my ear long after the call had ended. She was having her friends over and I wasn’t invited.

Throughout life, each one of us has experienced exclusion. From classmates chatting excitedly about this weekend’s sleepover to friends planning get-togethers without you to coworkers talking excitedly about last night’s dinner in the break room. This particular conversation on the phone, however, stung more than usual.

The woman on the other end of the call was my childhood best friend.

This day it became apparent that I was not one of “the girls.” As the night went on, her social media profile filled with pictures of the ladies on their fun night together. They were smiling, laughing, and enjoying wonderful fellowship. Each picture was followed with the hashtag #jesusgirls.

Oh, how I wanted so badly to be a part of the #jesusgirls that night. Rejection slithered in like a snake and began feeding me lies. Que the feelings of abandonment and the negative inner monologue that many of us have unfortunately had.

Rejection comes from the Latin word rēicere which literally means “to throw back.”

And that is exactly what it tempts us to do. We can be thrown back into the shadows of despair. We retreated. We stop attending social functions. We cancel plans. We put up walls out of fear of further rejection. That’s exactly what I did. I even convinced myself that I was comfortable in isolation and that I preferred to be home on the couch eating a Ben and Jerry’s and binge-watching Netflix. Fear of rejection kept me in a place of familiarity and isolation.

Retreating from relationships out of fear doesn’t actually help us in the long run though. Trying to do life alone is detrimental. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity and one who falls and has no one to help them up.” This verse emphasizes the benefits of companionship, friendship, and that sharing of life that brings relief from isolation.

It continues in verse 12 which says, “though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

The nerdy nurse inside of me couldn’t help but think of the human heart when reading that verse. The chordae tendineae, commonly known as the heart strings, are a group of elastic/collagen strands in the heart. To prevent the valves in our heart from blowing out under the extremely high blood pressure within the ventricles of the heart, these strands hold and support the valves to remain closed or open while the heart pumps vital blood to our body. Since the force of the blood is so strong one cord would not be sufficient enough to do this job, so there are multiple strings working together, supporting life. Isn’t God amazing?!

Just like the heart, we need people in our lives for support. We need them in the good times and in the bad times. We need them to keep us from blowing out under pressure, much like the strings in our hearts.

It didn’t take long for me to crumble under life’s pressures in my isolation.

I began longing for friendships once again. I cried out to my Father. I immersed myself in His truths and protected myself against the lies. In Christ, I found comfort and healing that I never could have found from another person. God used this season of loneliness to draw me closer in my relationship with Christ. And in that, I found freedom. Freedom from rejection and the chains that come with.

As I realigned my identity in Christ, I once again embraced His love for me. 

From a place of fullness in Christ, God gave me the courage to start branching out again. I started by simply keeping plans that were made with friends. I determined to make my yes a yes and my no a no. I accepted invites to things I normally would never have said yes to. I accepted coffee dates on my only day off of work while my house was a mess. I joined Bible studies as well as began leading one.

None of these things are easy for someone who has dealt with relational rejection. These simple things were difficult and awkward for me internally. I had to fight the lies that told me I was unloved and would never fit in. God has been faithful to me. Throughout this journey, I have met people that I never would have met and formed relationships that would have otherwise never happened if I didn’t say yes.

Once we step out of our comfort zone and pursue relationships from a place of love, things begin to change. 

As we navigate through life we form many different types of relationships. Some of these relationships are lifelong and some are for a season in our life. Each relationship formed in your life needed to happen in order for you to be who you are today. God is using the joys, sorrows, rejection, and acceptance to draw us closer to Him.

Looking back now, I’m grateful for my friend on the other line that day. I will park my mind in a place of sweet memories and gratitude of the journey God has used to grow me closer to Him and to others. I now know that I don’t have to be a #jesusgirl to accepted. I am already Jesus’s girl — and because of that, I will never be alone.

Please share your thoughts with me below!

  • How have you faced relationship rejection?
  • What do you think God wants to teach you in the midst of that rejection?

This post was featured on GirlDefined. See guest post here.