We all have our rough days. Some of us even have rough weeks. But rough months? Rough years? There’s no fun in that. I’m currently in the middle of one of those “rough periods.” It started off as a rough shift at work…then it became a rough week…and now I’m hearing from coworkers and veteran nurses of the night shift that it’s probably going to be a rough 6-12 months.
I didn’t believe it at first…but now I’m starting to wonder how life is ever going to be “normal” for me. And yes, I’m totally being dramatic right now. But that’s what tends to happen when I feel like I have lost all control. In reality, I know that I never had any control over my life to begin with – it is God and God alone who directs my paths. But when change interrupts your life, it’s scary. I can handle little changes – even big changes that happen gradually. But big changes that happen suddenly, with or without warning – those rip away my sanity.
I’m an Oncology Nurse. A newly graduated, recently hired Oncology Nurse. Who just started working the 7PM-7AM shift. A new grad, new hire, who is new to nights. Geez. As if being fresh out of nursing school wasn’t overwhelming enough. Making this transition to nights has been absolutely ridiculous. I did everything short of taping my eyelids open in order to stay awake all night. And of course, I was sick to my stomach, throwing up all over the place, while doing this. When 7AM finally came around, trying to force myself to sleep was even harder than trying to stay awake all night. That was only the beginning. Actually working my first shift was just…overwhelming to say in the least. Everything was new. And with no doctors around, a lot more responsibility fell upon my shoulders. By the end of the shift, I felt defeated. Exhausted, dumb, and defeated. To the point that I was actually dreading having to work another two nights in a row.
I didn’t want to make the hour-long drive home. I didn’t want to stay and catch up with my old coworkers from day shift. I didn’t want anyone to ask me how my first night went. I didn’t want to do anything but crawl into my bed and sleep the next three days away. Why? Because I felt defeated. Because I forgot that I already have victory in Christ. Because I allowed myself to believe that my ability to learn and succeed was totally dependent upon myself – my skill level, my intelligence, my ability.
It’s true, I had no idea what to expect for the rest of my work week. I had no idea how I was going to make it through another night. What I did know was this: I needed a major attitude adjustment. I had a choice to make. I could either throw myself one heck of a pity party, OR I could trust that the unchanging, faithful God of the Universe who has always had my back in the past, will continue to protect and guide me in each new day. So that afternoon, before shift #2 of 3, I gave myself a little pep talk:
Snap out of it. Stop being a drama queen. You are BLESSED. You are employed – and during a time in which jobs are hard to come by. Not only that, you have a job you love, at an institution that you admire. You are exactly where you’re supposed to be. God worked all these little details in your life together so that you would be in the perfect place to give Him the greatest glory while also receiving the greatest blessings from above. You are blessed. And you need to snap out of it. Yes, things are rough right now. You have no idea what is going on or what to expect. You feel stupid and helpless. But one thing is certain: the Lord your God goes before you and He is with you always (Deuteronomy 31:8). You are where you are for a reason. Keep an open mind, a positive attitude, and remember that He is your Strength. He will keep you in perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3).
And so I went to my second night shift with a new mindset. I was still overwhelmed, still feeling kind of lost and confused, but no longer was I defeated. I had overcome negativity, fear, doubt, and bitterness. By refocusing my mind on the Lord I was able to find comfort once again. By reminding myself of His faithfulness in the past, I was able to place my trust in Him for the present circumstances.
When change interrupts the routine of our lives, it tends to send us into panic mode – even when you know that it’s coming. More often than not, our first reaction is to grab hold of everything around us and cling to it. I wanted to hold onto my work routine from day shift. I wanted to hold onto doing things my way. I wanted to tell everyone on nights that I’m not really as dumb and clueless as I appear to be (usually). I tried with all my might to cling to my own abilities. But the truth was, my abilities weren’t enough. My abilities will never be enough. But thankfully, I serve a God who is and always will be more than enough. I am lacking in so many ways – knowledge, experience, skills, control. But that’s life. I will always be lacking in one thing or another and there’s not much I can do about it. The one thing that I will never be lacking in is Love from my Father. He is Jehovah-Jireh, my Provider (Genesis 22:14).
When we feel overwhelmed, when we feel defeated, when we feel like there’s no escape, we must turn to the Lord. He is our Refuge. He is our only option. Change is inevitable. The only way to overcome the chaos that accompanies it, is with the One who is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore.
I am the Lord your peace, no evil will conquer you
Steady now your heart and mind, come into My rest
Oh, let your faith arise, lift up your weary head
I am with you wherever you go
I am your anchor, in the wind and the waves
I am your steadfast, so don’t be afraid
Though your heart and flesh may fail you, I’m your faithful strength
I am with you wherever you go
Don’t look to the right or to the left but keep your eyes on Me
You will not be shaken, you will not be moved
I am the hand to hold, I am the truth, I am the way
Just come to Me, come to Me, cause I’m all that you need
Come to Me | Bethel Music Ft. Jenn Johnson
I wrote this post before the Boston marathon bombings took place yesterday. In light of this terrible event, I truly believe this week’s song, Come to Me by Bethel Music is perfect. Whatever situations we may face, individually or as a nation, the Lord simply desires for us to turn to Him. When nothing makes sense in this world, when we lose all hope in humanity, we must remember that we serve an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God. His heart breaks right along with our hearts. His tears flow just as ours do. Despite what the world around us says, the Lord does not take pleasure in these situations. He doesn’t will for humanity to be in this perpetual state of chaos and carnage. That is our doing. And the only way to fix it, is to Love. Love your family and friends and peers and coworkers. Love your persecutors, your bullies, your enemies. Love those who, by the world’s standards, don’t deserve to be loved. Love people of all shapes and sizes, faiths and backgrounds. Love. Not with the love we see on the big screens or talk about on social media. Love with the Love we witnessed on the Cross. It’s the only kind of Love that can heal, restore, and set free.
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.