God Hears You
I walked into my new job with pressed white pants, bright white nursing shoes and a cute pink and white checkered scrub top.
I really looked the part. I had an expensive lavender colored stethoscope around my neck and my new badge hooked onto my pocket. This badge held my first professional title, “PCA” (aka, patient care assistant another term for nurse’s aide).
I walked in that hospital with confidence. My name tag should have had the name “Naïve.”
I showed up to the nurse’s station at 6:30 AM ready for duty.
Oh, how little did I know how much I was not prepared for that day.
There were three nurses sitting at the desk when I arrived.
They snickered and made me feel insecure as I sat down. One of the nurses sat with me and gave me report and then handed me a paper with my assignment for the day. This paper had the name of fifteen patients on it and boxes for me to check when I completed each task.
I was to take vital signs, make sure everyone had fresh water, give bed baths, or help with sponge baths if they were mobile, help distribute meals and feed patients that needed fed. I was also expected to answer call lights for immediate needs.
I was perfectly confident with this assignment. I had completed the course to hold this title and had, had the proper training with an experienced PCA on another unit prior to starting this venture alone. I had also grown up running around the nursing home where my mom had worked my entire childhood.
I was comfortable in this setting.
The nurse directed me to start in room 25 where a gentleman named Charlie would be. She said he would need to be helped back from the bathroom, where they left him and then help with bathing.
I obediently started his way.
I knocked on the door, and then entered the bathroom.
I stood frozen as I caught a glimpse of Charlie.
He was an 83- year-old man; about six foot five, 275 pounds, wearing nothing but a revealing hospital gown and poking his fingers into his own feces.
I also realized this was no surprise to the nurse that had given report or the other nurses as I looked behind me noticing their eyes laughing in my direction.
His gown was wrapped up around his waist revealing every part of him and his eyes revealed that his mind was somewhere else. He had no idea where he was, what he was doing or who I was.
Although I was obviously horrified, I began putting on some gloves and talking to Charlie asking if I could help him, realizing this was my job. Surprisingly, he was very gentle, and he let me.
I helped him off the floor which didn’t require much effort.
Even though he was terribly confused, he was a strong, sturdy man.
I led him to the sink and with buckets of soap and water we washed his hands. His finger nails were very long and curled over. It took some time to get the feces out of his nails. I then filled another pink wash tub with fresh soap and water and helped Charlie get as clean as possible with a sponge bath.
I helped him into his new clean gown and then cleaned up the bathroom where he had smeared his excrement with his hands.
Although the circumstances were far from pleasant Charlie was kind and Charlie, was gentle. He thanked me and kept calling me Sarah. I’m not sure who Sarah was, but I could tell he loved her.
When Charlie was clean and covered, with his hair forming a perfect wave with one swipe of the comb just as my grandfathers had done, he asked if we could walk.
I stood beside Charlie, and we linked arms as we walked out of room 25.
The nurses sat stone faced, as Charlie and I talked and laughed walking around the unit.
My next room was room 17. But before I could get to room 17, I was stopped by another nurse who asked that I go to room 19 first. She said the patient’s family was coming and I needed to get her cleaned up before they arrived.
I again was obedient and redirected my steps.
The nurse then added; that this patient had expired, and her family was coming to see her before the men from the morgue came.
I learned that day that’s the term they use in the hospital when someone dies.
I was still a little shaken from the experience I had in room 25, now I was to give a dead woman a bed bath, alone.
By this time, I was a sweaty mess. As I headed toward her room as slowly as I could, the cold sweats kicked in.
My clean white pants were wrinkled from the cleaning in Charlie’s room, and I was speechless with this nurse’s request.
What had I gotten myself into?
I got towels and soap and knocked on door 19.
Was I expecting an answer?
When I entered the dark room, I saw a frail old lady with beautiful white curls laying in the bed. I took a deep breath and then walked into the bathroom to fill the wash bin. I stared in the mirror where I could see her in the reflection, the sun starting to peer through the cracks in the curtains.
My hands were trembling.
I was scared.
I began wrestling with my own mind and body asking myself, what was I afraid of? She’s dead.
Honestly, in that moment I thought about quitting. I hadn’t realized the seriousness of the position I had been offered. My classes and training had not taught me about these circumstances.
I walked toward the bed, laid the bucket on the table, then reached down to pick up the arm of a corpse. This was the arm with her hospital bracelet. I read the name. It was Kathleen. I looked at her limp body and whispered, “well it’s just you and me; Kathleen.”
I was not a Christian then and didn’t know much about God at all in those days. But in that moment, I took a deep breath and whispered a plea to a God I thought existed but knew little about.
“Please help me get through this.”
Even though I did not know Him, my soul, which He had created (Psalm 139: 13-16), longed for Him, and naturally went to Him for rest.
Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28 NKJV.
I know now, it wasn’t just me and Kathleen in that room because even now when I think about the experience of that crazy day, I remember the peace that filled that room after I whispered a request to God.
Even though I didn’t know the creator of the universe intimately then, Who I now know, IS God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
He knew me and listened to my very simple whisper of a prayer, and then offered me peace in that moment.
Years later after I had been saved, I began reading scripture.
I came across Psalm 116:2 and not only did it remind me of that day, it became my favorite verse in the bible. It helped me to understand and appreciate God and His character on a more intimate level.
Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him all the days of my life.
Psalm 116:2 NIV
Did you catch that?
He hears you! He heard me.
God, who made the universe and everything in it, cares about even our most simple, quiet prayer.
I still love to imagine God, as vast as He is, hearing me, and leaning in intently to listen to my request.
What an amazing God.
He’s never too busy for us and the depth of His love is unimaginable.
Do you ever imagine God as you send up prayers?
Can you imagine Him busy doing everything and then hearing your voice, turning to you, leaning in, and listening?
It makes me feel so special.
Even if you don’t yet know God.
He knows you!
Talk to Him.
Ask Him anything.
He’s listening so intently, waiting for you to come to Him with everything.
Listen for His voice as He does yours.
Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you.
James 4:8 ESV
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