Mom’s hospital room was scary and intimidating. Sterile floors and walls, devoid of the warmth she had surrounded us with. Tubes and tape covered her. Machines beeped to remind us where we were and puffed as they breathed for her. Screens around the room fed out readings I didn’t understand. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I walked to Mom’s side where the nurse was checking a monitor.
Her nametag said Lori. She said to me quietly, as if Mom might hear, “You can talk to her. She can hear what you say.” I stood there awkwardly for a moment. Lori smiled at me as she prepared to leave the room. “You should talk to her.” And she walked out.
Throughout that hellish day, Lori was in and out. She rarely talked to us first. She talked to Mom first.
“Okay, Joyce,” she said gently. “I’m just going to move your blood pressure cuff to your other arm, okay? Nothing’s changing, I just want you to stay comfortable.” At one point we came into the room and she gave us an update, beginning by touching my mom’s foot lightly. She looked at my unconscious mother laying under a mass of plastic and said, “Now Joyce I’ve already told you about this so you know what’s going on,” and proceeded to share with us what she had already told Mom when it had just been the two of them in the room.
Every time Lori spoke to Mom, I cried grateful tears. This woman, carrying a pregnancy several months along, was tireless in her affection to Mom. She talked to her like she understood. She shared with Mom everything that was happening.
Toward the end of the day, Lori’s shift ended and she popped in wearing her coat to let us know she was leaving. I was sad to see her go. She had made this ugly day a little bit beautiful. She had given me something to hold on to, something to be grateful for in the midst of horrible, awful pain.
Then the hospital chaplain came in. She wore a sterile white coat. I can’t remember what her nametag said.
In her robotic voice she told us she was sorry. She asked if we wanted the chapel. We stared at her with swollen eyes.
The chaplain, the minister, was as far from us as the moon. She stared at us unwaveringly, no betrayal of emotion on her face.
She asked if we wanted her to pray. No, we said. We had pastor friends in the next room that we wanted to come in. Her mannerisms were stiff and unbecoming. Her presence in the room was awkward. She never looked at Mom.
When I consider God’s calling on our lives, I think about the fact that regardless of our station, regardless of our career, we are to bring Christ into every situation we encounter. The nurse – Lori – served us with the heart of Christ. She washed our heart-wounds gently and spoke to us to soothe us. The chaplain – whose name I can’t remember – was untouched. She looked at us like she was looking in through a window.
In 2 Corinthians Paul tells us that, “(God) comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (1:4) We receive comfort that we may be comforters. The nurse gave us the strength to bear through that day. The chaplain did not.
No matter what God has called you to do, you have the opportunity to bring Christ into everyday situations. Every vocation is a ministry. May those of us in the ministry not be so wrapped up in the perceived good that we do that we forget to weep with the hurting. And may those of us who do not call full-time ministry our career remember that we are called as well.