Stepping out of Darkness
** I wrote this blog about four years ago after working my first year as a pediatric nurse doing night shift. It's funny looking back to this writing and seeing how God has grown me in my career and continued to lead me. I'm so thankful now that I no longer have to work night shift. I'm also thankful how God has carried me through and taught me to be a more competent and prepared nurse. I can truly see God's hand in my life and with me in my nursing job.
I don't know if you've ever been in a situation that is negative. Something that takes a toll on your energy levels, passions, thought-life, and body. Maybe it's a relationship that you keep holding onto or maybe it's a job you are trying to sustain that is less than ideal.
My first job as a nurse was working at a summer camp and I absolutely loved it. But, the second job I started as a nurse was extremely toxic to my personality. I was working at a Rape Crisis Center for about 8 months and the job was extremely emotionally difficult. In fact, because of the job I developed night mares and increased anxiety. I would dread being on call for work and pray that I wouldn't be called in. Despite the job being flexible and paying well, when I finally quit the job, I experienced deep relief. I immediately started sleeping better and feeling more peace. Now looking back, I laugh at myself for staying in the job as long as I did.
After working at the Rape Crisis Center, I got offered a job in pediatrics. I was so excited about this job because I absolutely loved kids but there was one hold-up, it was a nights position.
I knew working nights would be extremely hard on my personality and body. I knew I would not thrive in a night position. And from the get-go, before applications went out, I told myself I would not take a nights position and sacrifice my energy and joy for a nursing job. But... as soon as I got offered, I felt pressured to take the position and told myself that I could compromise to make it work temporarily.
I took the job because I wanted to jump right into pediatric health, but as I started working nights I met a whole new set of challenges. I said hello to shift work fatigue, caffeine tolerance, nutritional difficulties, and emotional mood swings. It was a very difficult phase and I didn't think I would survive 6 months much less a whole year working night shift nursing. (So many aspects of life are affected by working nights including: exercise, spiritual life, and social life.)
I held onto Jesus in the darkness and He helped keep me afloat through the difficulties. He taught me to praise His name even when life is hard. He taught me that even in the dark, His light still shines bright-- that I can do things that wouldn't be possible on my own- with His help. He taught me to love and trust Him even when things are hard and to have patience. He held me through night shifts... He holds me still.
There were many mornings I came home crying because I was so fatigued and stressed. It was a very difficult year and a very difficult adjustment into hospital nursing.
That being said, I promised myself I would work one year and that after a year I would have the boldness to quit the position or ask for a change.
I promised myself that I would have the boldness to step out of negative situations that are unhealthy or that hurt me in the future.
That I would stand up for my heart's safety, that I would protect the areas of my heart that matter most like my love for others, my faith in God, and my health.
I promised myself that I would not sacrifice my health or my personal joy and freedom for a job.
And I did, after one year of night shift pediatric nursing, I advocated for myself, and went PRN. I've been grateful ever since.
One thing I'm slowly learning is that no one will protect your heart, except for you. You and God alone-- know your heart. You know what matters to you most, what makes you feel safe, and what you need. So you have to have the courage to protect that and advocate for yourself, just like you advocate for others.
Proverbs 4:23 says "Above all else, guard your heart for out of it flows the springs of life."
May we be willing to make changes in our life, so that we can better serve God and love others in a way that is healthy for us.