Right after Henry and I got married I had a bit of an identity crisis. I was never one of those girls who doodled their future name when they got married. So when I went to get my new driver’s license and officially change my name, I experienced a bit of an identity crisis. Who was this new person? It was weird to me that such a small thing would throw me for a loop. I felt strange about my new name for about two months and I felt unsure of myself. I don’t know if anyone else had the same experience when they changed their name, but I didn’t expect to feel so odd about my simple name change. Also, when I signed my driver’s license with my unpracticed name, it looked like a first grader wrote it. Also a little strange.
This past Sunday in church I had an oddly similar experience. For years I have struggled to understand my identity as a Christian. The old is gone, the new is here but oddly I feel unchanged. On Sunday the pastor was talking about Matthew 16:21-28 where Jesus predicts his death and Peter rebukes him. The pastor emphasized the end of verse 23 where Jesus says “…You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” The pastor went on to explain that by not setting his mind on the things of God, Peter was essentially craving the things of man and not savoring the things of God. Peter didn’t understand that in the death of Christ, we are free. Peter assumed that the death of Christ would be the end of a story, the end of a possible revolution for the Jewish people. He couldn’t see that by Jesus dying on the cross, the revolution of God was massively underway. Peter was still new to learning about Jesus. He had only been following him for a few years, so it makes sense that he didn’t quite get it all. I don’t get it all and I’ve claimed to be a Christian for over 25 years. You’d think by now I wouldn’t lack an idea of what knowing Christ really is like. But what place does this all have in my nursing career? I also have struggled to build myself into a good nurse. I’m still not there by any means as I’ve only been practicing nursing for about two and a half years.
But while I was sitting in church I realized that I had made leaps and bounds as a nurse through practice. I spend over 36 hours each week practicing how to be a good nurse. Questioning the meds and orders and vital signs and whether they are appropriate and beneficial for my patients. I am continually trying to learn how to best care for the body and mind of the patients and their families. I have learned how to ask better questions to find out if needs are being met, whether I am at work or in my daily life. The key to this has been practice. I have not been as diligent in ‘practicing’ knowing Christ. Coming to this realization gave me a bittersweet feeling. I am thankful to know that I have improved as a nurse through my job and learning for the PCCN and teaching and I look forward to continuing to grow, but I also felt sad that I, like Peter, am short-sighted and have craved the things of man rather than the things of God. I forget every day that Christ loves me and waits for me to engage and learn more about Him…and I’ve been procrastinating that offer nearly every day for 25 years. The most wonderful thing about this realization is that Christ forgives and wants my failing to show that I am still lovable and am still a child of God. I realized that my identity as a nurse has been manifesting itself in my daily life and I hope that I will begin to see my identity in Christ manifest itself more.