Be This Nurse to Whom?


Can we be this nurse?

I read this story by Thomas Keating in Awakenings a few years ago. It touched me then. It touches me now. (Italics and breaks are mine.)

Here is a true story about a psychiatric nurse who was told the lurid history of a certain patient who had just entered the hospital.

This man had committed a terrible crime. It was so terrible that he never wanted it known.

He had completed his long prison sentence and had come to the hospital in a dying condition. He could not believe that God could forgive his crime; hence, he resisted any form of reconciliation.

The chaplain tried to persuade him to trust God. He refused. Any thought of reconciliation awakened his self-hatred.

It was more painful for him to think of forgiveness than to feel his self-hatred.

The psychiatric nurse showed him every courtesy. She tucked him in at night, provided him with little favors like flowers, remembered his birthday, asked about his family, and wrote him notes on her day off. Because his illness was prolonged, she developed a friendship with him.

Near the end, his closest friend came to see him and urged him to be reconciled with God. “Please don’t mention it!” the dying man pleaded. “God couldn’t possibly forgive me for what I have done.”

His friend kept urging, “God is good! He loves you. You can trust him.”

But nothing he said could penetrate the sick man’s defenses.

Finally the friend said in desperation, “Think how much love the nurse shows you. Couldn’t God do the same?”

The sick man acknowledged how grateful he was to the nurse who had shown him so much love, but he added, “If she knew what I have done, she too would reject me.”

His friend replied, “I must make a confession to you. When you first entered the hospital, I confided to her the entire story of your crime in every detail.”

The dying man looked at him in stunned astonishment. His defenses dissolved and his eyes filled with tears.

“If she could love me,” he murmured, “knowing all that I have done, it must be true. God too can love me.”
– Thomas Keating

When it’s unimaginable to accept God’s love directly, can we accept it from other people first?

Once we accept it for ourselves, we have it to give to others.

We can be the nurse to someone else.
For the love of God.
By the grace of God.

* * *

Who has been the nurse in your life? Who can you be the nurse to? Please share in the comments.

17 thoughts on “Be This Nurse to Whom?

  1. TC Avey

    What an inspiring story.
    When dealing with difficult people or working in straining conditions I often pray that God will help me see people through His eyes and love them with His heart.

  2. Kym

    What an example of loving those that we see as unlovable. And the only way we can hope to do it is by receiving the love and forgiveness of God for ourselves.

  3. Julie

    Lisa- Wow! What a great story and pertinent to how God feels about us in spite of how we act or what we’ve done.
    A true love story!
    Your #InspireMeMonday neighbor,

  4. Pam

    How great a story! It is a reminder that whether we are nurses or have some other role, we all intersect the lives of others. How we love them (or don’t) may make the difference in their lives in this life and the next. Kindness and love, compassion and grace…..He never fails to give it to us! I know He wants us to pass it on! I passed this post on to my oldest granddaughter who is beginning her senior year of nursing at Lipscomb University next week. Thanks, Lisa!

  5. Sharon

    More than anyone in my life, my mother has been the *nurse* who has spoken comfort, assurance, forgiveness, and grace into my life. She has been the consistent voice of acceptance – the confidante, the mentor, the friend, the counselor. I am so grateful for her presence. It’s part of what makes watching her lose her mental capabilities so difficult, but I am beginning to understand more and more that it is now my time to be her *nurse*.


  6. Angela Howard

    I absolutely LOVE this story! It’s such a poignant reminder that each act of kindness and love in the name of Jesus matters. Thank you for taking the time to write and remind us of this truth! Visiting today from #searchingformoments 🙂

  7. saleslady371

    What a great challenge to us today to be that nurse to someone. This story moved me to tears. I am sure there are so many like this sick man who limit our loving God. May they be persuaded today of His tender heart to those who ask forgiveness! I’m sharing this on FB. My friends will love it.

  8. floyd

    Oh, I love the heart of this post, Lisa. All of us are in need of forgiveness, but this is such an encouragement to be the heart and hands of our Father.

    Just a beautiful piece of life, right there…

  9. Lori Schumaker

    Ahhh … what a humbling moment I feel in my heart right now. Am I the nurse? Do I extend that kind of grace? Faced with a situation, would I? Will I?
    Thank you, Lisa. Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing at #MomentsofHope!
    Blessings and smiles,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *