“Love Serves” was the motto inculcated to me by our teachers in nursing back in college, but back then, this motto did not sink deep in my heart. Now, facing this pandemic, when many healthcare workers are about to give up, I now remember this motto. It brings me encouragement not to falter in our task – to be humble in love for the sick and needy.
Ever since the pandemic began, healthcare providers have been burdened with extra amounts of stress (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual). Many have already fallen and others who are still in the battle are almost at the end of their rope, overwhelmed with the kind of condition our world is experiencing. Perhaps, some stay in the profession because they have nowhere else to go. Families need to be fed. Still, some remain faithful to press on out of genuine compassion and true love.
Taking care of others is never easy. As fallen human beings, our tendency is to self-preserve. It is not uncommon for us to grumble when we are deprived of comfort. It affects us when we are overwhelmed by the realities of life. Often times, we want only want a “peaceful” life. However, peace is unattainable apart form God who is the only source of it. Thomas Merton once wrote on his journal on June 25, 1940, “We have no peace because we have done nothing to keep peace, not even prayed for it! We have not even desired peace except for the wrong reasons: because we didn’t want to get hurt, we didn’t want to suffer.” We often want peace but not understand what the implications are. It is like desiring surgery without knowing what it entails.
Like Merton, God’s peace, is not a calling to a mere easy life, but a calling to incarnate Christ in humility and love amidst suffering. Our Christian faith is actively expressed through our deeds of compassion and service to others. Martin Luther’s argue that forgiven and freed Christians- those who have received God’s blessings, are not supposed to get comfortable in the confines of the church, but are called to act on what they are liberated from.
To give our lives away does not necessarily mean dying for others. It can be about serving others in big and small ways. Henri Nouwen once wrote, that “Our humanity comes to its fullest bloom in giving. We become beautiful people when we give whatever we can give: a smile, a handshake, a kiss, an embrace, a word of love, a present, a part of our life.. all of our life.”
Return to Nursing
Two years ago, I decided to once again practice my profession as a hospital nurse, after 12 years of being dormant. I was already serving full-time as a worship minister in a church. However, I had always felt a prodding to serve the community as a healthcare provider even before the pandemic began. Being an Operating Room Nurse in the past, I decided to apply for the same position in one of the hospitals here in Davao City.
I find it as a God-given privilege and am thankful to serve with my fellow health workers. However, due to the increasing volume of patients and heavy workload, it is inevitable to feel burnt out and frustrated. Many have become ill and are afraid to be the source of infection to their family and love ones, some are on the verge of quitting. Nevertheless, the motto still rings true, “Love serves”.
For many of us, it is still unsure how long we can last in the field. On most days, I myself, am just dragging my feet to work, preparing to stand for 5-12 hrs of operation. Maybe to run around the operating room as a circulator nurse and prepare for worst case scenarios like performing CPR to a toxic patient on code blue. Yet, in all these, the ultimate struggle is to continue serving with true love and compassion. I need to ask this from God each day- that our hearts be filled with faith in His love for us that we may give what we receive from Him.
I want to make personal the message of the Apostle Paul to the Ephesian church found in the 3rd chapter of his epistle:
“When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower me and those alongside me with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in our hearts as we trust in him. May our roots grow down into God’s transcendent love and keep us strong. In this trying time, may we have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May we experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to full comprehend.”