By Heather Vallot
All my life Ive been a little too much or not enough. These are lies I have had to battle, and in the past few years the Lord has breathed truth into those areas of my heart. I was always too giving; I gave until I was unhealthy, overwhelmed, and in over my head. Giving is a beautiful and God-honoring thing, until it becomes something one uses for approval from others. So, yep, I was that girl. Used and abused and walked all over giving at the expense of myself and wondering why I wasnt happy.
When I started college and was throwing around ideas of what to study and entertaining suggestions of my friends and peers regarding my major, the most frequent one mentioned was always nursing. I remained ridiculously uncertain (an ever-abounding trait of mine!) until my fourth semester of school.
I found myself alone in the dark at church one night praying about the upcoming decisions in my life. Overwhelmed, I cried out to the Lord to help me to go in the way that would glorify Him most. I heard from Him that night in a way quite unfamiliar to me yet remarkably certain way down deep in my gut. I knew that I was to pursue a degree in nursing.
As I told family and friends about the decision I had made, I was racked with many comments like, Oh Heather, what a wise decision. Job security and a great salary! I battled for months with the Lord about this and questioned my own motives because I didnt want to seek out job security or a fabulous paycheck. I only wanted to be obedient to the Lord. There were many days when I almost backed out.
The first day of nursing school was one of great despair for me. There was a lot going on in my life and in my church that I wanted to be a part of. My pastor at the time even encouraged me to wait on nursing school for another year or two because then Id be more available to help out with things at the church. As I got ready to leave for my first day, I sent a text message to a dear friend of mine that I was so afraid and was thinking of not going. He reminded me that there was a point that I had definitely heard from the Lord on this and that now was the time for faith even though things looked unclear, and things definitely looked unclear. Faith is not faith at all unless we take the step in front of us that we cannot see.
My time in nursing school was filled with a lot of doubt, struggle, and beauty. While at first I was fearful of the sick and needles, and afraid Id end up killing someone (I havent yet!), I slowly began to see the sick as something remarkably beautiful. My time at work as a nursing tech was my favorite time of prayer. I began to see the sick and the hurting as the beautiful least of these that Jesus talked about in scripture. I quickly saw that nursing was indeed the way by which I was fashioned to honor the Lord with my life. Every day at work, I saw Christ in my patients and it was an honor for me to give baths to the dying and to hold their hands in their last days. Needless to say, I fell in love with every least of these I encountered and with nursing as well.
Fast forward two years. I made it through nursing school (with much, much hardship!) and was standing among the other graduates and friends as the dean said a prayer by a former nursing instructor in my program. My head was bowed, but my eyes were wide open as I looked down at the candle I was holding. Midway through her prayer, these words slipped from her lips:
Help us to remember that a person needs love most when he is the most unlovely and give us the courage to love him as he is. Fill us with the joy of Thy creation so that we may lighten the suffering of the sick and the loneliness of the dying.
Then, my friends, as my eyes filled with tears, I felt the most overwhelming moment of my entire twenty-two years. I felt as if the Lord was saying to me, Go, my little dear, my daughter… and love. I will waste you on these sick and you will honor Me through these dying. Love sacrificially and love well. I knew that I had a huge responsibility and that my heart would break over and over again, but that the Lord would put it back together so that it would be available to love another dying least of these.
I have been nursing for nearly a year now, and I have more stories of redemption, hope, life in death, and beauty than I ever knew possible. In my life, my Abba tends to encourage me in little tidbits of faith. So often, He shows me a tiny glimpse of truth so that I will (slowly) take the next step. My grubby, little, pink painted fingers squeeze tightly to His hand as I hesitantly take baby steps in obedience to my Father.
Fabulously faithful, He is. I pray I can continue to take my tiny steps that will constantly lead me to glorify Him best.
Heather Vallot is currently working as a nurse in Hattiesburg, MS. She is an aspiring gypsy and spends her time making faces with little children at church, being an advocate for Invisible Children, and hopes to be in India this fall with an organization called Word Made Flesh where she will be working with disadvantaged women and volunteering in the Missionaries of Charity homes.