Monday, June 7, 2010

The definition of Grace

1. A disposition to be generous or helpful; goodwill.
Mercy; clemency.
3. A favor rendered by one who need not do so; indulgence.
4. A temporary immunity or exemption; a reprieve.

When I was a nursing student, and did a rotation at the hospital I am working at now... I hated it. The nurses, the unit, the computer system, and especially the patient population.

"Not for me," I thought "Not for me at all."

"Thank goodness I'll never be back there!" I smugly boasted as I drove by after my rotation was over.

Then, during my preceptorship I ended up in the Med-Surg ICU, at the very hospital I hated the most during all of nursing school. On my request form I had filled out months earlier the one major request I had was, "Please, DO NOT put me at the VA."

Considering my background, I had never felt completely comfortable with male patients. I was intimidated by them and most of the time had no idea how to even begin showing them compassion. Many of the men I had known growing up were abusive or were disrespectul to women at the very least. These men seemed no different to me.

Well, God has a funny way of working things out.

I think back now and I am so incredibly thankful my teacher ignored me. I could not imagine where I would be now without having done my preceptorship there. I am one of the few people in my class to have a job and I love my job. What is even more amazing to me is how much I have learned about our soldiers and the men who have served in our nation's military; another thing I had a not-so-fond relationship with. I had known and dated enough military men to be jaded in my view of them, for sure.

Many of the men I treat in my job are the definition of what I have feared most of my life.

Alcoholics, substance abusers, womanizers.
Domineering, intimidating, dysfunctional men.

In other words: broken, hurting human beings.

Vulnerable and often times alone because they have alienated everyone else in their life. I see that wide-eyed, tear-filled look and I feel the tight grasp of their hand. At that moment everything else is stripped away. What they have done and who they might have been does not matter. My own fears, insecurities and experiences fall away and I no longer see a man that I usually would have despised for what he represented. I see a patient that is afraid and needs someone... anyone to show some kindness. Everything I know about their life disappears and all that is left is grace. Completely undeserved, thoroughly healing, grace.

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