What a Nurse in Royal Blue Scrubs Taught Me about being a Peacemaker
I'm a people watcher. I'd rather do it at an airport, but I've done my fair share sitting next to my daddy at the cancer institute for the past four years. Much of it is hard to see, but I've learned to look for beauty in a place of suffering. The people who work in the infusion center are incredible people. Witnessing their devotion to caring for the sick has given me an even greater respect for the healthcare provider living at my house.
Steve is one of the people I've been watching. He's been working at the infusion center for a long time. He wears the royal blue scrubs that identify him as a registered nurse. I first met Steve at the caregiver's class I attended after Dad's diagnosis of multiple myeloma. Though it is rare that he is assigned to Dad, Steve's face is familiar. Many days we encounter him as he floats from pod to pod picking up the slack or taking another’s place while they go to lunch.
Steve is a peacemaker.
One of the gifts of a peacemaker is their ability to connect with people—and not just people in general. Peacemakers connect with people as individuals.
That is the beauty of Steve’s gift. Sitting on a wheeled stool, his hands in purple latex gloves, he cleans the lumens on his patient's lines and begins a conversation. With Dad, he brings up golf or tending cattle. Steve nods occasionally or makes the sounds that tell his patient he's paying attention, even as he's filling glass tubes with blood and hanging bags of chemo. The interaction is seamless. His patients are engaged in making themselves known and hardly notice what is happening to them.
When the conversation wains, Steve brings up a life experience that connects to whatever story he’s just heard. Sometimes the connection is a stretch. It's amazing to eavesdrop on these human interactions. I’ve noticed that no matter how creative Steve gets, his empathy is always received.
I’ve learned a lot from watching Steve work. He’s teaching me how to be with people in pain. Steve lets people be who they are apart from their suffering. He validates the lives they have lived and the lives they love. He creates space for them to be known for who they are rather than allowing them to be defined by their disease.
Steve is doing the work of the priest. He is manifesting the love of Christ to those he ministers to every day. He is extending grace as he meets the great need of their lives. Steve has embraced his holy calling, and he does it in the blue scrubs of a registered nurse.
Your holy calling may not be nursing. In the Kingdom of God, our professions don’t qualify or disqualify us in our call to serve. As part of God’s holy priesthood, we serve wherever we are, in whatever vocation we are gifted. Some are paid professions and some aren’t. We offer our lives to the service of God; we live our highest calling.
Jesus said: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they are called the children of God.”
I don’t think Steve puts much thought into these interactions. At some time past, he decided how he wished to interact with others in a way that would be life-giving. He set an intention to be connected to his patients. He practiced and found the sweet spot. He continued, patient after patient, until now he no longer thinks about how he will approach the unique individuals he serves. What he does is who he is.
We can take a similar approach as we seek to grow in our lives in Christ. When we submit to his ways, and with intention put into practice actions that help us conform to those ways, we can expect to become the kind of persons who do those things. I’m sure Steve has messed up and missed the mark. I haven’t witnessed it because he is amazingly consistent. That’s something I want to be—not so up and down all the time.
What would happen if we became like Steve? What if we listened to other’s stories and met them where they are? What if we looked for a thread to tie our lives together? What if we no longer named people by what we fear? What would happen in the world if the people of God became peacemakers?
My prayer today is Lord, make me a peacemaker. How about you?