God’s Grace in a Back Brace

God's Grace in a Back Brace

Long before I ever dreamed up the possibility of the letters RN following my name, I was a little girl with another dream. A dream rooted deeply in personal experience and passion driven by frustration. Before I began chasing this dream, I dreamed of becoming a pediatric orthopedist because this girl was on a mission to fight the object that angered me most: my back brace.

I was prescribed a back brace for my kyphosis in the 7th grade. I remember I hated my brace, but not more than my momma hated it for me. I recall being an adolescent, desperate to fit in, which was sometimes hard because my back brace literally stuck out 3-4 inches right between my shoulder blades. Once, in the heat of an argument, my sister called me ugly because of my brace (don’t worry, we’re cool now). And another time, I remember my dad threatening to ground me because I hadn’t worn my brace in a couple hours (He was the compliancy police when it came to that back brace). I remember a kid in my class that used my back brace as a set of drums with his pencils when his assigned seat was behind mine. And I remember my little cousin being born and not being able to snuggle him as a sweet baby because the plaster I was encased in was the very opposite of gentle. I’ll never forget my collection of maternity jeans as a 7th grader because the elastic fit over my brace better. Or the time I woke up in the middle of the night to rip my brace off because I couldn’t sleep comfortably with it on.



But when I look back at my time in a back brace, I don’t remember those challenges as specifically as you would think I would. In fact, I really have to make myself dig deep and get to the hard stuff to reflect on those moments. Instead, I remember grace. Sweet, beautiful, unmerited grace that I didn’t deserve.

At the time, I don’t think I fully understood the impact that brace would have on me. To this day, not a day goes by that it or my scoliosis doesn’t cross my mind. At the time, I don’t think I could have grasped the platform that my brace was going to have on my future. I don’t think I realized that I would one day use it to speak to groups of high schoolers about pursuing careers in medicine and leadership. I never could have predicted that wearing that brace for two years would lead me to lifetime in healthcare.



You see, that’s how God’s grace works sometimes. During the challenge, we don’t always see the way the Lord is working in us. We only see the hard parts, the parts that make us go home and cry and tear off the orthotic devices our dad says we have to wear. While the Lord is working on us, we only see the construction zone that looks more like demolition. And we forget to read the sign that says “Please excuse our mess, construction in progress”.

But friend, even when it’s messy and challenging, and just plain miserable, God’s grace is still in action. He’s cooking up something amazing for us during our time of weakness. I have to believe that those two years in a brace were shaping more than just my spine. Those years spent wrapped in shiny metal and hard plaster would soften my heart for my future patients.

I saw God’s Grace in a back brace. I still see it every day in my life, how He challenged me for two years to mold me into the person I am today. I saw God’s Grace in a back brace with the outpouring of love and support from a classroom full of preteens and my compassionate teachers. I saw God’s Grace in a back brace at every single doctor’s appointment when I met children with diagnoses that had as many words as sentences.

I see God’s Grace in a back brace when I can look back at a difficult time in my life and use it to help others and glorify our Lord. This is exactly what grace is about. In fact, the Lord Jesus teaches about grace in one of my favorite scripture: “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 Check out those words in red, y’all.

God’s grace was exemplified during my time in a back brace. Probably the weakest part of my life as an adolescent, but I will boast all the more gladly about that weakness so our Lord can be glorified by it. And that’s God’s Grace in a Back Brace.

“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,” 2 Peter 1:2

Love,

How Nursing Taught Me Grace

It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve posted anything because I’m in the middle of my RN preceptorship while still working weekends. Right now I’m averaging 60 hour work weeks while still doing my other class work. I realize this is the norm for a lot of people, but this part time girl is worn out! Nevertheless, I’m grateful for these opportunities to learn.

I wanted to share one of my favorite stories of working as an LPN: when a young child taught me more about my faith then I’ve learned in 23 years of life.

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                            Grace: The unmerited love and favor of God toward human.

One of my first weekends working as a nurse, I had to give injections to a room full of sick children. Because there were 3 kids, I knew I would need some help, so I grabbed my sidekick and syringes and prepared for a battle. What I didn’t know was that full fledged warfare was waiting for me behind the exam room door.

I initially assumed the oldest sibling would have her injection first. Boy, was I wrong. As soon as I attempted, a tantrum commenced. No amount of convincing could change this child’s mind! Eventually we moved on and each younger sibling took their injection with very little drama.

Then, it was time for the oldest. If you thought the temper tantrum I mentioned earlier might have been bad, this one was miserable. That child screamed and wept and kicked everyone out of their way. Even mom and dad were forcefully pushed back to their seats with flying feet and fighting fists. Friends, whatever you’ve envisioned at this time, multiply it by 10 and then maybe, just maybe, you’ll have an idea of how difficult this encounter was.

Finally, with three of us as human shields and one injecting, this child  received the injection they needed. The battle was won, but I couldn’t celebrate my victory right then and there! Instead, I grabbed our “treasure chest” and allowed each child to choose a toy as their reward for taking their injections. I started with the youngest sibling, since the oldest was still laying on the exam table with tears flowing. Both younger siblings accepted their new toy and smiled. When it was the oldest child’s turn, the reaction was not the same.

Instead of being met with eagerness to see the contents of the toy chest, this child continued to weep. Even after encouragement, this child continued to cry. Eventually, she looked at me and said, “I don’t deserve to get a toy because I wasn’t good when I got my shot.” My heart melted. Again, I begged her to choose a prize. And again she said “I don’t deserve it.”

I left her a little bracelet. I don’t know if she took it home with her or not, but I hope she did. The rest of my day went on as usual, but my drive home, I found myself thinking about that family and the sweetest Son I’ve ever known.

As humans, we are that stubborn, fearful child. We fight what is good for us, we disobey the very One who gave us life, we throw punches because we don’t want what is being offered. We kick and scream and cry and yet, God still offers His love, His mercy, His salvation. And we don’t deserve it. We will never deserve it, and we know, deep down, in our heart of hearts, we don’t deserve it. And yet His mercies are new everyday. Oh, how He loves us.

I had thrown around that “grace” word for years and years, but I never truly understood it until that day. So to the stout little soldier defending them self against a rocephin injection, thank you. Thank you for reminding me that in the eyes of The Father, I am you, fighting what will make me whole. Thank you, for showing me that I don’t deserve it, but I can still receive it, because He is good. This is amazing grace.

“For by grace, are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8

Has nursing ever given you an “aha moment”? Has a patient ever taught you something you thought you already understood?

Love,

cassie