Recently I was feeling quite discouraged. It was time to get ready for my job at a tiny local hospital in Labor and Delivery. I've been a nurse for a long time, but sometimes night shift itself is discouraging. Sometimes you just don't feel good. For decades I've watched my mother and grandmother respond to times of stress with perfectly coiffed hair and elegant maquillage that includes base, eyeshadow, mascara, blush and that Southern red badge of courage: lipstick. "How does that look, Mammaw," I ask as I spray on the Helmet Head and blott the lipstick. I ask out loud for we lost her on a raw Winter day. She would tell me it looks beautiful no matter what.
Opening my closet I choose a black scrub top covered in brightly colored hearts. "In for a penny, in for a pound," I tell myself as I choose heart earrings and a heart necklace though it is March. I ask my daughter if she has any socks left over from February 14th and she finds a bright pink pair with pictures of candy conversation hearts on them.
Feeling marginally better I kiss her and my husband good-bye and head to my car where I listen to "Sweet Home Alabama" at maximum volume on my CD player. A little Lynyrd goes a long way towards curing discouragement.
There are no labor patients tonight. I am asked to care for a surgical patient far older than the patients I usually care for. As I pick up the chart and see the name I chuckle to myself. Then I laugh out loud. I open the door. "Ma'am," I say, "I believe I am the nurse for you!" She looks at me and laughs. "I wish I could tell this story," I tell her, " but I'm not allowed to reveal names."
"I do not mind if you tell my name, my dear," she tells me. "Go ahead and say my name."
I believe that God stretches us at times. I had been going through a lot of personal stretching in the previous weeks. So much so, that I feared I would break. But through these times He never fails to reach down with kindnesses; some large and some small and remind me that He watches me carefully and watchfully for I am the apple of His eye.
"Thank you," I tell my patient. "Thank you......Mrs. Valentine."