A Nurse’s Pledge

September 4, 2015
Note from the iAt editors: We asked a nurse to reflect on what it means to be pro-life in the field of health care. The result is this wonderful reflection on the care that nurses promise to give to the variety of patients they encounter. We think there is something important for all of us to learn concerning what it means to care as a way of being pro-life.

Caring for the living. It is an honor. Every human being – from the tiniest string of paired chromosomes to the frail and dying – is a precious treasure to our heavenly Father. It is through God’s mercy that we exist. It is through grace that we have the hope for so much more beyond this life. All of this is so temporary, yet so important. I look into the eyes of the living and see my Lord there. As I would desire to be comforted, cared for, nurtured and valued above all – so then I offer this to you. Here is my pledge:

To the dying. You are too important for me to walk away from at this incredibly intimate time in your life. You don’t need much of this material world anymore, but you still need the fellowship of others. Being with you is what I can do for you. I will offer you comfort in ways that you may not be aware of, yet your mind and body will rest better for it. I will be with your family as they are with you. They too need mind and body comforts. You and they will not be alone as this time passes. I believe you are held in the arms of my Lord even now. And when your heart beats its last, I will rejoice even in my sadness. I know you will live forever without the disease that took you away from us. With the hope of the resurrection, you will live joyfully.

To those with cancer. I will cry with you. You did not choose this, but here it is. I will walk with you because I cannot remove this from you. I will soften the chair you will claim as your comfort place. I will seek out the food you desire, even though it will taste just as bad as all the rest, but we’ll try it anyway. I will be there with you, even as you sleep off the toxic medicines given to you to kill the cancer cells. I will make sure all is safe and secure around you so you don’t have to worry. I will help you walk, if you like. I will bathe you, if you like. I will read to you, if you like. I understand you do not feel well and will not expect you to be more than you feel you can be at this moment.

To the confused. Oh, my heart cries for you. You were created to be a vibrant, capable person. You offered the world, your friends, and your family your life and now you are lost within yourself. I will be there to make sure the world around you is safe for you. I will care for you when your own thoughts make it impossible for you to realize you need care. I will talk with you because even though it may not make much sense to me, you were created to be in relationship with others — to be in relationship with me. I will hug you because even though you don’t recognize who I am, I know that you are special to my Lord.

To Moms and Dads. You are the busy ones. So many things to get done and so many expectations to meet. You have to sort through what is really important and what you can let slip for a while. I understand that. I will offer what knowledge I have to help you make better choices, and if I can, I will show you ways to improve certain experiences in your life so that you can live a happy, healthy life. It is your choice after all, your life. I understand that. I will continue to offer my time and skills to you even when your lifestyle choices result in not-so-good outcomes. I will work with you to overcome barriers and make today and the next day a little better.

To the tween-ager. Oh, how you struggle to find the person you are comfortable being among all those others who tell you who to become. I will try not to criticize you as you struggle to claim an identity. I will care for you by letting you be who you feel comfortable being. If you are sad, I hope I will understand your concerns. When you want to be alone, I will let be, even though I will stick around. I will offer you options and explain the good, the not so good, and even the bad to you because you are an important person and should know these things. I will explain how you will make good and bad choices and that there are always consequences of those choices. However, I will also tell you that I will walk alongside you to sort through those consequences when the time comes.

To the children. You are favored among all humankind. Jesus specifically called you to him. Your faithful, creative, and dream-filled mind is a wonder and a treasure. You do not concern yourself with where your food comes from or who will fix it for you. You just count on it being there. While you play, your caregivers ensure you will have a bed to sleep on and clothing to wear. I will care for you in this way also. I will wonder with you at the sight of a butterfly and I will hold you in my arms when you cannot fathom the pain you are experiencing. I will giggle with you when the puppy slathers your face with his tongue and I will find a yummy Popsicle for you to savor when your throat hurts. I can help your caregivers find ways to provide for you when they struggle with their resources. They may just need some good information or suggestions. They may need some time out – just like you, but maybe for different reasons. We can all work together so that you can play again another day.

To the fetus. You are a precious creation. No one else in this world of 7.3 billion people is just like you. You have needs, just like I do. You need safety, nutrition, and love. These needs are met by the uterus that surrounds you; therefore, the woman who carries you within her is significant as well. She may not feel the best physically or emotionally because you are there sharing her body. I can help her. Together we will marvel at her special task of being a co-creator. Who will you be some day? Will you be the one to care for me when I am in need?

About the Author
  • Kate Vander Veen serves as a Professor of Nursing at Dordt University. When she is not encouraging the mission of Christian nursing practice among her nursing students, she enjoys gardening, reading, and explorative road trips.

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