why i became a nurse – a contest submission

The following is a piece I really submitted for a writing contest at work…

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been attracted to broken people. I’ve always found such joy in helping the hurt be made whole again. I can’t help it. I’m a giver, a helper, and a fixer. I live to stay busy. I rarely say no. I was born to pour out.

It’s probably why I developed crushes on the boys I did, and I’m sure it’s what made me the select the friends I chose. It’s what spawned my decision to temporarily leave college, in order to travel the world on a mission trip. And I have no doubt it affected my wedding day. At the age of twenty-two, I married a man with an ex-wife and two small boys. Over the next two and a half years, I gave birth to three more kids.

I find it a bit humorous that I hit the majority of these aforementioned milestones during nursing school. Those two years were supposed to be intentional ones, according to our instructors. We were discouraged from making life-changing decisions, so that we could focus on passing our boards. What can I say? I’ve always been determined to bite off more than I can chew, and then chew it well.

Not surprisingly, I felt unprepared for the birth of my twins. We didn’t even know we were having two babies until halfway through the pregnancy, and I had no idea what to expect with girls after raising only boys. I didn’t feel ready. But oh, were they ready for me. These sisters have shown me that there are much more important things to life than expectations and goals. One of my daughters has special needs, and she’s teaching me things I never knew I needed to learn.

The most profound lesson I’ve learned from Isaiah Jane thus far is a simple one – I cannot fix her. Not because I don’t have the answers, but because she is not broken. She is perfectly whole. I feel like I exist to give her all of these tools, as if I can somehow protect her or make life easier for her. But she doesn’t even know that she’s different. Her disabilities are not her identity; they are merely a part of the bigger picture of who she is. She demonstrates beauty and strength and zeal to everyone she meets, and it goes not unnoticed. I want to be like her when I grow up, and she’s only eighteen months old.

I thought I became a nurse in order to feed my desire to heal the broken. In reality, I think I became a nurse in order to empower, and to meet people where they are. I feel called to help people see beyond their hospitalization. I love to provide patients and family members with resources, in order to help them understand a diagnosis or a plan… but it’s so much bigger than that. Their hospitalization does not define them. What happens on my watch is merely a part of their story, of their bigger picture.

There is something inside of my patients that sickness and injury cannot touch. In return, there is something inside of me that lights up when I see them catch hold of that. I wish I could express the way it feels to watch a patient stand up on his new knee, or to witness a family support a loved one’s wishes during her final hours.

But I can’t find the words for those moments. They are far too sacred. So instead, I’ll continue to leave my sleeping family before dawn each morning, in order to take care of someone else’s family… a few broken people who really aren’t broken at all.

12 thoughts on “why i became a nurse – a contest submission”

  1. Wow, this is amazing. I’m hispanic and currently studying to become a medical interpreter. Your words encouraged me so much in order to pursue this position with a more fierce pasion. To be a voice and a hand for this community. Thanks for pouring your heart.


  2. You have learned all you ever need to know about your children. I hear my own echo in “she is not broken.” Not to blow my own horn, but I used those exact words years ago when discussing my special needs child with Resource teachers, Psych/Ed evaluators and Principals. “We are not trying to fix him, because he is not broken. We want to help him reach his God-given potential, not a number on a standardized test. Our goal is to nurture and develop the person God made. Either you share our goal or you’re off our team.”

    I believed then and firmly believe now, those are words given by God to the parents of special needs children, just as he gave Christians the words of Scripture. “He/She is not broken.”

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