During any of my previous careers, my job was easy to explain in a jiffy: “I’m a chef” or “I’m a musician.”
But after I became a Christian Science nurse, I’d often take the proverbial deep breath before answering. I’d try to be clear in my explanations because outside of the members of my own church, many people haven’t heard of a Christian Science nurse.
The most basic way I describe my job is that I’m a nonmedical, spiritual, and physical caregiver for people who are relying exclusively on Christian Science prayer for healing during a health challenge. That’s still a mouthful, I know, but it only scratches the surface.
My Christian Science nursing practice is a professional and religious calling based on a deeply cultivated knowing that my patients, and myself, are God’s children. Christian Science nurses focus on spiritually nurturing and cherishing their patients. Our prayer rests on the recognition that man’s very essence is completely spiritual, and therefore any material conditions of disease or sickness, even death, never truly touch or affect the real identity of man as God’s spiritually immortal image and likeness (see Genesis 1; I pray a lot using this Scripture.).
Now that’s pretty radical, but the theology of Christian Science is built into everything I do. Daily growth in my understanding and practice of this Bible-based theology is key to my success as a Christian Science nurse.
As I nurture my relationship with God in my own life through practice and study of the teachings of the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, I find the strength and understanding I need to face the difficult situations that sometimes confront me. I’m able to rise above despair or fear, and instead can impart calm joy and assurance of God’s goodness and dependable loving care for all His children.
I persistently hold to the spiritual truth that a patient has never been separated from God to suffer or languish, and that any sickness or disease is never God’s will. I’ve learned just the opposite—that health is man’s normal state.
I think of it as a three-point partnership that exists among myself, the patient who employs me, and the Christian Science practitioner the patient is working with.
The Christian Science practitioner prays specifically for the patient. That’s called “Christian Science treatment.” He or she applies specific spiritual truths to issues relevant to the case at hand together with the patient. The practitioner and patient usually keep in touch by phone or e-mail. Occasionally, I may facilitate the flow of communication if the patient needs this help.
In the bigger picture, I fit in when patients are temporarily unable to care for themselves. I would be called in to help the patient maintain as much normalcy as possible while praying in Christian Science for complete healing. I am able to provide assistance, including cleaning, bathing, feeding, wound-dressing, and mobility support. I’ve been privileged to watch minute-to-minute and day-to-day progress and healing in my patients.
The common thread in all cases is the spiritual demand for me to express Christly love. So you could say my job description includes: to love more—be kinder, gentler, and more effective in thinking of the needs of others. These demands are a tall order sometimes, but I’m happy to keep growing enough spiritually to meet them.
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