Joy in Caring for Others
I have always found pleasure in helping and satisfying others. My self-worth comes from knowing I have felt the need of someone else and have been able to meet that need or make their situation a little easier to bear. I felt called into ministry at the age of seventeen and thusly sought different avenues to fulfill my calling. I knew that in serving others I would find joy.
After graduating from high school, it became apparent that a great area of helping others was through caring for them in times of illness and physical distress. Though I knew the Lord would eventually use me in spiritual teaching and even preaching, I was strongly directed to go into the field of healthcare. By becoming a nurse I would be able to help others anywhere the Lord would choose to send me.
Every individual is composed of three specific elements: body, mind, and soul—physical, emotional, and spiritual. It is necessary to understand that any one of these components being out of sync will affect the other two. Therefore, spiritual and emotional wellbeing is interfered with when an individual is suffering from an illness or injury. Knowing this made it more appealing to become a Holy Ghost-filled nurse who could minister to physical needs as well as to the emotional and spiritual aspects associated with illness. By becoming a healthcare provider, I could find great joy in helping someone’s pain be eased or eliminated through carrying out direct patient care, through listening, touching, observing, and through understanding the process of their need.
One of my greatest encounters as a young nurse happened on a surgical unit. The wing I was assigned to was used primarily for surgeries related to the eyes. It was back in the 1970s when I worked this unit so the hospital stays were long and very different from outpatient procedures today. A dear lady had had cataract surgery on her left eye, but both eyes were bandaged, her head was held stable between two sandbags, and the room was void of light. When anyone entered the room they were to knock, announce themselves, and inform the patient of everything they were going to do so as not to startle the patient in any way. I followed through with all of the necessary protocol and then I reached down and gently took her hand. Immediately she grasped my hand and told me she could feel a peaceful and calming presence when I entered her room. She said, “I know you are a special Christian because your voice and your touch tell me you are.” The joy that flooded my soul at that moment reassured me that I had become a nurse in the will of the Lord. It is still my practice to speak with my patients and to touch their hands—to make a connection.
Not long ago I was at work in an assisted living environment and a psychiatric nurse came to visit one of my patients. We were discussing the increased state of depression of the patient and what form of treatment to implement. The nurse stated that she had never seen me down or unpleasant. She remarked that she supposed I never got depressed. I believe I really shocked her with my reply. I told her I do get depressed at times, but I never allow myself more than a couple of days of being depressed. While I do not suffer clinical depression, I do suffer from situations related to life. I told her that after I feel I have been down long enough, I shake myself and make the choice to get back up and be happy again. The joy of the Lord is indeed my strength, and His joy working through me is contagious to others.
Paul was a caregiver to the church at Philippi. He was so keenly aware of their discouragements and their needs. Paul charged them to stand fast and to be strong in their faith by having the mind of Christ. A key ingredient to wellbeing he gave the Philippians was that of an indestructible joy that comes when the body, mind, and soul are in a right relationship with the Lord. In verse four of chapter four, he instructed them to “rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.” Then Paul admonished them to think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report if there is to be any virtue or any praise.
As a pastor’s wife for twenty-four years and a licensed practical nurse for forty-one years, I have seen many different illnesses and forms of suffering. I have seen the dead raised. I have witnessed the miracles of healing from cancer and other diseases. I have also held individuals in my arms as they breathed their last breath. I have laughed and cried with people through all kinds of circumstances.
As a nurse, God has used me to ease physical pain. As a pastor’s wife, He has used me to minister to the emotional and spiritual needs of those suffering from an illness. How thankful I am that He chose me to be His voice and His touch to people in times of physical need. So much joy and satisfaction have been found in caring for others!
Lois Mitchell and husband, Jimmy Mitchell, pastor Apostolic Life UPC in Pensacola, Florida. She is a licensed minister of the United Pentecostal Church and a licensed practical nurse. Lois presently serves as the Florida District Ladies Ministries president.