Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Maybe I Should Stop Talking

There's two types of people in this world. The first kind, when they walk into a group of other people, say, "Here I am!" The second kind, when they walk into a group, say, "There you are!"

Unfortunately, I am of the former. I'm not gonna lie - I enjoy being the one who's voice is heard first. I was never one of the people who liked to wait until everybody finished what they were saying so that I could put in my two cents. You either heard my two cents, or no one else's! (Humility is obviously my key strength.) This tendency can often get you into a spot of trouble. Like that one time where I asked someone who's house was dirty if they owned a broom. But that's a story for a different time.

Today, I was with a student from this ministry I'm involved with and they were telling me about something pretty personal. I was ready to issue my advice from the moment he laid out his problem. He wanted an answer, and I definitely, assuredly, and undeniably had a definitive answer for his struggle. However, a second before I could continue to lay out the gems that would prospectively pour out of my mouth, he interrupted me with one more sentence. I allowed him to continue, and he laid out a side of the story that made me entirely reconsider what I should say. If I would have said what my noodle was originally pondering, I would have misled him and probably done some damage.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1)
Maybe I need to stop running my mouth. I should probably start listening more, and learn the value of silence. Perhaps you've heard me talk enough and the Word of God is enough to illustrate the point my fallible fingers are trying to type out.

Maybe I should stop talking.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Starting IV's and Dropping the Ball

If you've kept up with this blog, you know that I've been in the Emergency Room for the past few weeks with an internship-type position as a student. One thing that becomes necessary as a nurse in the ER is to become skilled with starting IV's. Ah yes, the dreaded and most-famous of all nursing skills - the ever intimidating intravenous line. It's got all the necessary ingredients for an exciting experience: sharp pointy needles, a considerable amount of pain, and most of all, blood!

I know that some people have a really hard time even thinking about IV's, so I won't go into any gory details, but I will tell you this: it is a scary skill to start practicing, no matter how much you've done it in a lab on a dummy (whose skin, no matter how "realistic," could never match the qualities of human skin and vascularity). It's even worse that, when you first start practicing, you have to do it with someone's head directly over your shoulder, watching every move you make for mistakes.

Something about the fact that you have a patient whose bulging eyes are darting back and forth from your face to your nametag that says "Student Nurse," combined with a room full of people watching you, along with the sweat beading up on your forehead makes this a difficult task. Well, in the course of doing this many times, you're bound to mess up a good amount, especially when you're first starting. This means that, many times, the instructor or nurse who is watching you must be ready to take the needle from you and correctly perform the task with their own skilled and experienced hands.

Notably, there was one time where I had screwed up twice on the same man. The second time I foibled with the needle, the patient said, "I'm sorry, but you've really gotta work on these." I then went, my soul's head hung down, to grab a nurse who could do it, for I could not.
“For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness." (Ezekiel 34)
God had to take the staff. He Himself had to herd in the sheep because the people who He'd given the responsibility to do so had thoroughly screwed it up. Ezekiel here is prophesying to the leaders of Israel, whose gluttonous and self-serving actions had come at the cost of the starvation of God's flock. The weight of responsibility that rested on the shoulders of the leaders of Israel had been dropped in a devastating way, and so God Himself had to pick it up.

"Gotcha! I'm not a leader! This doesn't apply to me at all."

Well, maybe you're not a leader, but everyone is in the process of influencing someone, whether they know it or not. And in this way, we are all leaders. One never knows how many little eyes are looking up at them or how many broken souls are looking to them for guidance. And we've all dropped the ball. God had to take the staff. He also took the needle. Three big ones, in fact. 

There is weight that rests on you. There are those who look to you. You will always lead. The only question is, which way will you lead?

I've since gotten a lot more comfortable at starting IV's. God's been gracious in this way. Someone even told me recently, "Oh, you're very good," right after I had successfully gotten their line started. I guess it's a big experience thing - you just gotta get in there and do it, asking for forgiveness when you mess up and learning to accept responsibility for your actions.

Maybe life isn't so different.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Oh, Just Go Fly a Kite

Here I found myself once again next to the waters of the intracoastal, sitting among the rows upon rows of neon blue chairs that lined this "Chapel by the Lake." Kind of a misnomer, I suppose. There was no lake, only the waters of the intracoastal. But I suppose that "Chapel by the Lake" is easier to say than "Chapel by the Intracoastal Waterway," (especially since most people don't even know how to correctly pronounce "in-tra-coastal," as opposed to the ever-popular "in-ter-coastal") so I don't make a fuss.

But I digress. I sat there, among the hundreds of empty chairs that looked pretty old. Not too old, however. It wasn't as if they were completely forgotten about and left to be dilapidated. Instead, it was just like somebody didn't want to put the extra work in to make these chairs look super nice. Kinda like when you wear clothes around the house: you don't put on your nicest clothes - just enough to fill society's rule that you must wear fabrics at all times. So these chairs were dirty enough to leave white dust on your clothes when you sat on them, but they were still trustworthy enough to sit in... most of the time.

These were the chairs I sat among, and as I prayed, I watched a man flying a kite with his toddler-aged son. I had watched them set it up earlier, and noted how excited the father looked to introduce kite-flying to his amazed little boy, who was simultaneously befuddled as to the mechanics of this whole operation. He had the kid hold the handle while his larger hands made sure that the kite wouldn't fall down or fly away, sitting down so he could be at the same level as his son, who was standing up.

The kite soon flew at a height of at least 30 feet in the air, which was pretty impressive, even for a grown-up like me. It was one of those cool, atypical kites whose frame was a series of three connected boxes that formed a triangle-type shape. I mused that these unique-looking types of kites were probably the best ones, with physics that allowed for the most stable and controlled of all flight patterns.

But then my musings took me further. As far as the Trinity, in fact. That's a large mental leap, you say? Probably. Maybe not. Either way, the kite reminded me of God. The kite also reminded me of us. It's almost as if we are kites. The Father stays on the ground, sending and directing us, controlling our flight patterns; raising us to great heights. However, this would mean nothing if it were not for the Son connecting us to the Father, providing the only means of ever getting in touch with His willful direction. Even this, however, would not be enough, for a kite is as nothing without the wind, Who is the Holy Spirit flowing through us in such a way that we even have the ability to lift off in the first place. He empowers our flight, keeps us in the air, and sustains the beauty that is seen when people in blue chairs look on and see the masterful direction of the Father.

You say that my musings were a large mental leap. I disagree. The beauty of created things were meant to point us back to the Creator. All that we see should be a reminder of the glory of God. A reflection of His nature is grafted into all that we experience, from the birthing of a newborn child, to the amazing flavor of fish tacos, to the pain in friendships, and to the flying of kites.
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. (Romans 1)
Perhaps, if we haven't been seeing these things, it is because we need to start looking differently.

Perhaps we need to go fly a kite.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Taking the Last Cookie

I've recently started my preceptorship, which is considered the "capstone" to nursing school. It is the final part of your education where you integrate everything you learned throughout your four years and apply it in the hospital environment on a standard 12-hour shift basis. That's been going on for the past two weeks and I've gotten to be pretty friendly with all of the nursing staff and other personnel there in the ER. The best part about working there?

The nurse's lounge.

It's got big windows, and since you're cooped up in a small Emergency Department for 12 or more hours, it's nice to get the light shining in and see the outdoors when you sit down to take a break for lunch. I don't know what it is about all the nurses on the floor, though. They all have this intense love for sweets.

This past week, someone brought a platter of cookies into the nursing lounge, which means... fair game. I grabbed a few, and even though they weren't so great, I still ate them, happy to enjoy something sweet while working hard. Then, at one moment when I had stepped back into the lounge, I saw that out of the whole platter of 25+ cookies, there was only one left.

That cookie made me think. When a nurse walked in to the nurse's lounge and saw that last, solitary cookie sitting right there in the middle of an empty room, would it not be tempting to take it? But, surely, they would not. After all, it's just wrong to take the last cookie! And in no way would any nurse consider themselves such an evil person that they would even be tempted to enjoy the illicit goodness of consuming this last wonderful morsel.

"And he said to them, 'Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?'" (Mark 7)

Man is desperately wicked. Beyond all hope. And although no nurse would ever eat that last cookie in order to preserve their valued feelings of self-righteousness, the greedy desire to take it points to an innate wrong that exists inside all of us. It is a problem that begins first in the heart, and moves to outward action. Even if someone were to eat that baked good, it wouldn't prove that they were sinning by completing the action, but only that the sin was in their heart to begin with, whether or not they followed through.

This is man. Anyone who doubts his inherent sinfulness need only look at the nearest child, who does not need to be taught to lie, cheat, or steal. It is in him, as it is in us. It is this sinful heart that can only be restored by a sinless God. It is in Christ that we find a base-level, foundational change in the way that we even think. As for me, I've got a lot of sanctification and change that still needs to take place.

After all, I took the last cookie.