Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Stop. Think. Invite...better yet, stop, invite, then think.

With so much to do in nursing school, I often find myself without the time to think. While this may sound dangerous for a student who will one day be responsible for the lives of patients 12 hours at a time, not recognizing the lack of thinking would be far worse. As a nurse, it is imperative to think critically. It’s not enough to be given a list of tasks, complete that list, and then rest until another task appears. During the course of the day, a nurse must continuously evaluate a patient’s situation with its innumerable variables. The nurse then must assess the progress of care, develop a plan of change if necessary, and then present that plan to the physician while monitoring and evaluating other situations at the same time. Moreover, a good nurse should take the time during the day to evaluate their own progress and make changes accordingly. Of course, once a nurse has given their responsibilities to another nurse, they can jump in their car and reflect upon the day. Yet, during that car ride home or when they finally lay down for the night, they might realize that they failed in managing a patient’s care. Well, that day is over. They might have another day to use the fruits of reflection, if the Lord allows it.

In nursing school, there are countless requirements demanding so much time that I risk becoming predominantly task oriented. In many ways it’s more challenging than working as a nurse because the day doesn’t end when I leave the hospital or school. The work has to be taken home. Over the course of months, it’s easy to lose focus on taking the time to stop, reflect, and self-evaluate.

This summer I’ve been doing a preceptorship, a voluntary (unpaid) internship at a healthcare facility. Because it’s not as demanding as a full class load and this past Monday was the last day, I have had time to slow down. I’ve taken hours to delve into ideas, thoughts, and situations that have occurred over the last year. So using my “drive home” analogy, I realized that, spiritually, I’ve had successes and failures this past year. During the year, I wish that I had been more diligent, intentional, and reflective with the time that I used to pray. When I did take the time to meditate and pray meaningfully, I allowed the Lord to open my heart and educate me. (Being Sicilian, I refer to this process as being “bopped” upside my head by my Father.)

Moving deeper into my thoughts, I confirmed that in striving to be a disciple of Christ, I am called to think critically about my spiritual progress multiple times a day, a week, a month, a year, a decade…permitting the Lord to order my life to His will. It’s good to recognize my weaknesses after the fact, but how much better would it be to consistently recognize my own tendencies before a sin is committed and invite the Lord to help me. Sounds like common sense, but how difficult it can be for me!

After coming home from Adoration a few days back, I also realized how efficacious my thinking becomes when I invite Christ into it. On my own, I find that my thoughts and reflections suffer from concupiscence, distractions, and evil. With Christ beside me, I feel like I have a friend guiding me with gentle conversation. I also realized that even this insight was only possible by His grace. I’m grateful that our Father is patient with this stubborn Italian.

When do you find time to critically think in a given day?

Photo credit: Ann Douglas


Diane said...

Well said, David! I had to resort to for a couple of those big words you used so well, but I agree wholeheartedly that we all need to invite God into our thinking to give it real meaning. I sympathize with your busy, task oriented life these days...I can relate. Summer months at a library with kids out of school are insane! Calgon/Jesus take me away!

Devin Rose said...

This is something that being a member of Regnum Christi has helped me with considerably.

I now have spiritual direction with a well-formed, faithful priest once a month; last month he helped me draw up my Program of Life, which lists my root fault (pride, vanity, or sensuality) then the opposite virtue to practice to counteract that fault.

So every month I meet and discuss my progress, problems, and prayerfully analyze how I am doing in my walk with Christ.

Regnum Christi also calls us to examine our conscience every evening and go to Confession every two weeks; I did these things on my own before Regnum Christi, but because I tend to be lazy, I would go to Confession every few months or so.

David said...

Thank you for sharing, Devin. I'm currently looking for a spiritual director here in the Diocese of Charlotte. I'm looking forward to being guided.