baby steps · walk of faith

One of the Most Important Life Lessons I Learned as a Nurse Aide

She was a pleasant lady with few demands. Her body no longer functioned well but her mind was as sharp as ever. 

I enjoyed Dora’s quiet, accepting manner but her care intimidated me. A stroke had left her trapped in a mostly paralyzed body which required a mechanical lift to move from chair to bed.

I was new on the job and daunted by the lengthy list of things to remember for each resident I took care of. How could I possibly remember each small detail? 

After tucking Dora into bed one evening, I began tidying her room, taking care of the last small details of her care.

Her quiet comment took me completely by surprise: “You’re the perfect nurse.”

I was stunned. I knew I was far from the quickest or most efficient nurse. I was certainly not the chattiest or most outgoing. 

I was, perhaps, the newest and least experienced. 

Being a perfect nurse wasn’t a goal I’d even dreamt of attaining. I was trying to keep up and learn the ropes; I had no time to aim for the stars.  

Obviously I didn’t receive the same ringing endorsement from everyone I worked with. Undoubtedly, some had complaints about my abilities. For some, I was likely too slow, too quiet or too something else. 

However, I’ll never forget that in the eyes of one old lady, I was the perfect nurse – even if only for a day. 

That was over fifteen years ago. I still think of Dora sometimes. I think of me, back then, too. I was young and inexperienced. Many of my co-workers had years and years of nurse aid work under their belts.

They effortlessly dressed and fed ten elderly people while I labored to help six or seven. Never, in my wildest dreams, had I presumed to do a better job than they. 

The point is, it’s not about being the best.

I wasn’t the best nurse by most standards. Perhaps not by any measurable standard at all. 

What I was best at, however, was being myself. Somehow this kind, gracious woman saw my heart and, despite my ineptitude, understood that I cared. 

It was her perception of me that made me a good nurse. Not to say I had no talents of my own, but rather, the way we related to each other – her attitude and mine, our personalities and tendencies – was all necessary to create a good feeling. 

My take-away is that each of us has a place to fill that suits us perfectly. 

While we’re in this sweet spot, some will look on disapprovingly. We may sometimes feel uncomfortable or inexperienced in our role. Not everyone may believe we’re the best one for the job. They may hone in on the areas we need to improve. 

When we’re at the place we truly belong, it’s okay, though. It’s okay if we’re slow or unsure. It’s okay if most of our peers seem to be managing better than we are. 

The Doras in our life and our heavenly Father are saying, “You’re the perfect (mom, wife, friend, sister, —–).” 


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