As an oncology nurse, many of the patients I work with have just received news of a cancer diagnosis or have been told they have a recurrence. In an instant, their world is turned upside down. Not only are they suddenly facing weeks of treatment and their mortality, they are trying to figure out how to get through their day-to-day lives.
When I see them at their initial consultation, I am often first met by their fear and anxiety, which hangs heavy in every space they occupy. Some patients come with stacks of medical records, ready to discuss every aspect in detail, others come unsure even of the day.
During the appointment, we talk about everything from treatment schedules and symptom management to local housing options and how to talk to family members about their diagnosis. By the end of our interaction, my goal is to make each patient feel safe enough (during a very uncertain and unsafe feeling time in their life) that they can smile...and maybe even laugh.
When we first meet, their defenses are up and they are in survival mode. I meet an overly protected, cut off version of who they are…
Actually, there’s more to it than creating space for them to smile or laugh.
My real goal by the end of the consultation is to find them.
At multiple points along the way and in a number of different ways, unbeknownst to them, I invite them to be known. By the end of the appointment, my goal is to get a glimpse of who they are when they aren’t thinking about or defending against a cancer diagnosis. My actual goal is to find them.
I imagine God extending similar invitations to each of us. From the time we are born to the time we die, God quietly and continually asks us if we’re willing to be found. No matter how many times we respond (either in the affirmative or negative), God continues to inquire, for being found is a process that takes place in pieces and layers over a lifetime. If we discovered all at once who we were created to be, we would be undone. So, with our consent, He reveals to us a little at a time the brilliance of who we really are. God finds us…not so He can know us (He already does), but so we can know this of ourselves.
Sometimes we refuse to be found. What else might we discover? Sometimes we don’t even realize we are lost. However, when we take the risk of being found, it is then that we can be known, and whether we acknowledge it or not, that’s one of our deepest desires.
Where are you? Will you allow yourself to be found? Today? Tomorrow? Over and over again for the rest of your life? What will God reveal to you about whom He created you to be?
(Photo Credit: Deb Turnow)
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Nicole Mills is an oncology nurse, cancer survivor, nerd, and contemplative. She has a secret desire to be a nun or a double-dutch jump rope champion. Not being Catholic or able to jump 2 ropes poses significant hurdles, but she remains hopeful.