SEARCHING FOR HOPE
As I kind of touched on in my last post, I am a traveling nurse working primarily with the pediatric psychiatric population. Right now I am on my current assignment in North Carolina and I am working at a residential facility that has 70+ kids with behavioral/psychiatric problems and are involved in daily intensive treatments to either prepare them to return to their families or, for those that do not have a family, be placed with a foster family or group home. I would be totally lying to you all if I said that this was not the most difficult assignment that I have been challenged with yet. It took me a few weeks to get familiar with so many new faces and to really be able to put my finger on why I was being challenged so much, but in the end, it was simple.
Almost every single one of these children have lost hope. Not just hope to return home or to a family, but hope for any kind of future outside of this facility. One incident that I want to share had a major impact on me, and it not only opened my eyes for this assignment, but I think for my career as a pediatric psych nurse for forever.
It has been particular difficult this assignment, coming in not knowing any of these 70+ kids because most of them have been at this facility for over a year and each have their own traumas, triggers, and things that either work or do not work for them. Being new, I know none of that. So I had been dealing with this particular client all evening. She was having a lot of unsafe, negative behaviors and to be honest, I was feeling impatient and that my heart was not in the right place to deal with her anymore that night. As a staff member began trying to redirect this client for what seemed to be the hundredth time, I was observing from behind the nursing station (trying to build up some patience and have a mini reset), I just got overwhelmed with the Holy Spirit and a giant nudge to go have a conversation with this client. Not a superficial, rehearsed conversation that she has heard from every other nurse and staff member about being safe. The Holy Spirit was telling me to go love on this child that, five seconds prior, I was ready to pull all my hair out in frustration from.
Taking a deep breath, I walked over to the client and staff member and interrupted their conversation and just asked this client, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” She was a little taken aback by my question and answered with sarcasm and attitude. I asked her again. When she finally gave me a real answer, I felt confirmation by the Holy Spirit, and I dove in. What happened over the next fifteen minutes I can only give credit to Jesus for, as He was clearly being the traffic director for our conversation.
Listen. It was not a complex conversation that this client and I had. I simply asked her what her goals were for when she got out of this facility, and then I told her something that nobody had probably told her in a very long time:
I believed in her.
I affirmed to her that though she had probably been let down by adults her entire life, the people at this facility, myself included, were here to work past those traumas and get her to the ultimate goal, which was for her to start her real life outside of these walls and to attain that personal goal of hers.
I told her she was beautiful.
I told her she was loved.
And I told her she mattered.
By the end of our conversation, she had giant, sloppy tears streaming down her cheeks. We exchanged a long hug and she went to bed. I knew as soon as that hug was over that God had just very gently answered one of my many prayers that I had been crying out to him every morning when my exhausted body would hit my bed.
See, it required an act of obedience for me to have that conversation with that client. I would be lying if I said I was so happy to have that tap from the Holy Spirit and was looking forward to it. No! I was irritated, maxed out, overwhelmed, tired, and I had no idea what I was going to say to this teenage girl. When I was frantically praying to God each time, for a long time I wasn’t even praying out of total faith. I didn’t want to trust in Him, I just wanted to understand what He was up to! There is a BIG difference. I am still very much on my journey of learning to trust and obey God. I am learning to ask what HE wants from ME not what I want from HIM.
You who is reading this right now.
I don’t know what situation you are currently in. If you are somebody that is about maxed out on patience like me or if you are somebody that needs to be told you are beautiful, loved, and that you matter. Maybe you are both. I don’t know a lot, but I do know this. That as believers in Christ, Jesus has our back. I know that our worst day with Jesus at our side, are better than our very best ones without him. I know that God sees everything we do with an abundance of love, grace, and mercy BUT we have to keep making progress.
I know that there are so many people, children and adults both, in this world that need one person to tell them that they believe in them. No conversation is too small.
I encourage every single one of you to get out of your comfort zone this week and let somebody know that you are cheering for them. Let them know that you have their back, just like Jesus does for all of ours. Maybe you won’t make a difference. But maybe you will make all the difference in the world. I will tell you one thing, that client of mine may have thought I impacted her that night with my words of affirmation to her, but she truly has no idea how much she impacted mine.
But the LORD watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love. (Psalm 33:18)
For I know the plans I have for you," Declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. (Peter 5:10)