Monday, January 5, 2009

Nursing Stress - Reconsidering Who God Is Can Be Helpful

It's extremely helpful for me in dealing with nursing stress (and all types of stress) to really have a sense of who I believe God is (for me). I just read the book, "When Bad Things Happen To Good People," by Harold S. Kushner and it was absolutely fantastic. It was very re-affirming for me.

As a young adult (age 18) I decided that I could only believe in God if I was absolutely positive that He didn't "play tricks on me." In other words, why would I want to rely on a God that was sitting up in heaven waiting to give out "tests" or "trials" or "tribulations" to certain people just because he deemed it so? In my mind that was to "human" of God...that was to little of him. He would never do that. I decided that the God that I was going to rely on was not involved in handing out punishments or tests. He was pure Love...and pure love doesn't work that way.

And so when I showed up to work yesterday and found out that I had to float to a different (unfamiliar!) floor, my first thought was NOT "God, why did you do this to me." It was, "Okay, God, let's go."

Now, prior to leaving for work, I had asked several things of God. I had asked that I feel His presence at work. I had asked that I be given whatever I needed to take care of my patients that day. I had asked that I have fun at work and that I could be joy filled at work. Using positive, "I am" statements, I asked God for what I needed.

And when I met my patients and began my day, I soon realized that God WAS with me and that he's always with me. My new co-workers (for the day) were as nice as they could be. Although the patient population was unfamiliar to me (stroke/neuro patients), I received a thorough report at the beginning of the shift and felt fairly prepared to serve them.

The day was busy but I made it through it. I even got my charting and reporting done on time! And at one point, there was a funky music CD playing, and we all starting dancing and laughing together! Incredible!

It is of paramount importance to me in coping with nursing stress that I IN NO WAY believe that God is "doing this to me" to "test" me. I would build a resentment up against God so fast it would make your head spin. I'd be a very bitter person. Things would go down hill fast, believe me!

The fact that I view God as a source of perfect love, as my refuge, as my safe place and as an agent of my internal change. This is CRITICAL. This means that I can turn to him to help me cope as opposed to view him from afar as a source that is constantly testing me to see if I can cope or not.

Did God cause those patients to have debilitating strokes? Did he give them various co-morbidities such as the diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis because he felt their brain damage was not enough? Did he decide that their family members weren't being "good" enough so they must be made to suffer at the bedsides of their loved ones day and night? Is that the God that I'm supposed to believe in?

I don't think so. God is in the heart of the nurse who watches over and takes care of these patients. He's in the heart of the nurse assistant who gives these patients their bed baths. He's in the heart of the physical therapist who gets the confused patient out of bed to walk in the hallway. He's in the heart of the doctor who uses his knowledge to properly prescribe for these patients. And the list goes on and on.

God is in the care and love and tending to that we receive during challenging times. God provides courage to the family members to keep on going to the bedside. God is always part of the solution. God is not up there playing cruel games on us.

That knowledge helps me cope with the stress in nursing. And so I ask God for what I need to cope. Do yourself a favor, learn how to ask.

God Bless,