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A Renewal of Faith and Moment of Calm

By Julie Helling, BSN, RN

I have struggled with my faith on so many occasions. There have been more times than I can count when my beliefs have gone to war with my surroundings. As with so many healthcare workers, I have seen families, and residents, at their worst.

A few months ago, I was having a rough time, personally and professionally. Staffing issues were horrendous; I was working a lot of extra shifts, and my daughter was going through a rough patch. Life was incredibly overwhelming. And in times of stress, like everyone else, I was getting no sleep and eating too much fast food. My emotions were all over the place and my faith was struggling to hang on.

On this one day, I was having a particularly rough time. You know those days; everyone is crabby and short with each other. The fax machine isn’t working right. There are admissions coming, and a physician shows up unexpectedly to do rounds. Yet, in all the chaos, I got a message that all will be okay. And I got the message from a resident. 

I am taking care of a hospice resident. She was an active member of her community before she got sick and dementia took over her life. She taught PE in the local school system, ran marathons, played tennis, and sang in the choir at church. She raised a family and is loved by many grandchildren. My resident is usually cheerful and talkative. She enjoys going to music programs and singing along with the radio. Therefore, it was no surprise when I walked by her room and heard her humming. The song was familiar, but I didn’t instantly remember the name. It was only after I was down the hallway from her room that it struck me what the title was— “Great is Thy Faithfulness” a hymn by Thomas Chisholm. In case you are unfamiliar with the words:

“Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”

“Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love”.

“Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”

I know that not everyone believes as I do. But it doesn’t change the fact that whether you believe in God, Buddha, karma, or just the universe in general—if we just stop to listen to the quiet, we will hear what we need to pick ourselves up, to carry on the mission, and to be the type of person, nurse, parent, spouse, child we need to be. 

Does my resident know how the song affected me? No. Do I think the song was “sent” to me for a reason? Yes. However, the best part of all of this is that every time I see my resident now, I think of this song. My spirit calms, my outlook brightens, and I’m able to mentally regroup and recharge so I can present a whole nurse to my residents instead of a fractured one. 

I hope that all of you can find a source of calm amid the chaos and stress, which is now our world. Our residents and families are suffering with the restrictions COVID-19 has placed on us. My hope for you is that you have a song, a saying or prayer, a friend, or a loved one that you can hold onto. We have no control over the craziness right now—but we can control our response to it. And remember—you are not alone. 

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