Miracles

Apparently I stopped believing in miracles. I’m not sure when it happened, or actually even why.

Growing up I never believed in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, and due to a mishap involving my first lost tooth and a furnace vent, the Tooth Fairy and I didn’t coexist in my reality for long either. Yet I always, since before I can remember, believed in miracles.

Until this past week when I realized that I don’t believe any longer.

Maybe it came from years of seemingly unanswered prayer for miraculous healing from Crohn’s Disease.

Perhaps it’s from years of working around sick and often dying children, watching time and time again as a child slips away from the arms of a pleading, bargaining, begging mother.

Maybe it comes from an unwarranted sense of control paired with perceived understanding of the world around me. The world was mysterious when I was a child, so miracles were welcome wonders. Now, there doesn’t seem to be space for them in this world I so intelligently understand.

I have stopped hoping as the parents around me hope. I have stopped praying as they do on their knees, on their feet, surely even as they lay in bed before tossing and turning for brief moments of sleep as their world crumbles down around them.

What’s worse, I have grown irritated by the irrational, unrealistic, recklessly optimistic attitudes around me. Often muttering in the privacy of my own head “are we looking at the same child, are we seeing the same thing? How can you possibly have hope? How can you possibly imagine a positive outcome?”

I have become the Grinch who stole miracles, packing my bag full of the last ounces of joy and hope, certain that no positive will come. Wishing for it, hoping for it, clinging to it is a waste of time and energy. My heart is two sizes too small. I am worse than a three decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce.

I recently cared for a patient near the end of his life. Medically speaking his situation was hopeless, which as a nurse, makes me feel hopeless, helpless, defeated, and failed. My usually sunny disposition melts away under my sarcasm and snark.

Because I no longer believe in miracles.

His mother came in to see him. I had prepared myself to support her, imagining she would crumble into a pile of tears, falling apart being the only possible manifestation of the hopeless emotions I was feeling amplified by her mother’s love.

Our God is faithful. She said, with a smile on her face, the sunshine of hope in her eyes.

Cancer is faithful I snipped back in my mind.

We still believe He can heal him. She continued, as if she had heard what I was thinking.

I believe that if I went home and the doctors went home, cancer would win lady, right here, right now. It is over, we lost this one.

For a brief moment my frustration turned to guilt for my lack of faith, then to jealousy for her overflowing devotion to a God I sometimes long to hear, likely due to my recent failure to ask for Him to speak.

I pulled myself back to the reality of where I stood with her. I provided updates, what we were doing for him, what his body was doing in return. In a laundry list of updates, perhaps two things were positive. She thanked me for the information, repeating back the minor positive notes I had given.

Again I began to feel my irritation welling up. Do you really not understand the gravity of this illness? I wanted to ask.

And then, yet again, as if she had heard me, she replied with this. Shrinking me back to size, putting me back in my place.

A positive attitude gives us power over our circumstances, rather than allowing our circumstances to have power over us.

I was stunned. Here I was, judging her positive attitude as a fault or a flaw. Completely disregarding the choice that it was. Similar to the choice she was making to believe God for a miracle. It wasn’t blind faith. It wasn’t negligent belief. It was strength, and devotion. The choice to believe in something more powerful than me, more healing than the doctors on our team.

When I came out of the room, tears welling in my eyes, I sat at my computer, and looked down at a small plate of candies she must have left for me on her way into the room. A hand written note was laid above them,

“Kate, your devotion is so appreciated, S.”

S, it is your devotion that I am appreciating today. And because of you, mother of my patient, I am beginning again to believe in miracles. Because in the depth of despair over losing your beloved son you took me into your arms, and guided me back onto a track where love is real, positive thinking is a choice that saves us, and miracles do happen.

So today, I too am praying for a miracle for your son. And as I pray, with a positive attitude and a humbled heart, I am referring to Psalm 30, my personal favorite, and one I know we both can love.

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11 thoughts on “Miracles

  1. Life, however fleeting, is a miracle in itself. Healing can be in this life or in eternity. It is no less a miracle for the healing to be done in a resurrected body. Perhaps the most important miracle is that those who trust in Jesus will be saved (Romans 5). Keep looking for miracles, Kate.

  2. I found this post on Huffington Post. It was exactly what I needed to read today. Yesterday was a tough day on the busy telemetry floor I work on. In my 15 years as a nurse / clinical nurse leader it stands out as one of the worst. It is easy to sometimes lose hope because of what we see every day. We literally see people at their worst – but we also see them at their best. I try to store those best moments in my heart to help me through the worst ones. I actually have a box that I keep all the thank-you notes and tokens that families have given me over the years so on those days when I don’t think I can do it again and my hope is gone, I go through that box and read. It never fails to refill me so that I can do it all over again.

    • Larissa, I am so glad you stopped by my blog! I love the idea of a box for those things! I have many scattered around but not all together like that. Her note is currently on my dresser, where I am sure it will stay for quite some time!

  3. Oh my dear I feel as if I could have written this myself. I am a med-surg
    ICU nurse and the way cynicism has crept into my life is astounding. I feel worn and tired and hopeless more often than not and my faith has truly suffered as a result. Thank you for being brave enough to write with such honesty.

  4. I loved this post. I am currently a nursing student and I am drawn towards pediatrics (even though most people I tell that too say it’s “really hard emotionally” and “too hard to be around sick kids”). I’ve been a sick kid myself so I know how amazing pediatric nurses are. Thank you for this post!

  5. I remember feeling the very same way as a Neuro ICU nurse. I found myself awash in the negativity of repeated poor outcomes, often in the face of those that hope and pray the hardest for that “miracle.” I found myself nearly lost and drowning in the negativity that awaited each new shift. However, I did have the chance to be a part of the care of some exceptional cases with truly miraculous outcomes.

    I am never one to expect or even hope for a miracle. However, I am no longer one to believe they are impossible. I hope you find peace and continued support in your chosen career path. I found that my best days as an ICU nurse came after facing my darkest despair as you have described in your post.

    ~Tom

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