I confess, I am 100% guilty of doing it myself. When I see other pregnant friends, my mouth says hi, but my eyes automatically drop to their belly. The first, and at times only, thing I usually ask about is related in some way to their pregnancy. Being now on the receiving end of this, I want to say sometimes, “I am really excited about this and think about this a whole lot. But I am not my pregnancy. There are other things going on in my life, heart and mind that I’d love to talk about too.” When I see moms with their very young children, I’m guilty again as charged. I say hi to the mom but my attention automatically goes to the little person in mom’s arms, and that’s what we talk about. I forget that the mom was her own person before this little critter took over her world.
I do this to my patients and their parents without realizing it. I see the patient, and see the vital signs. I see the tubes and the medication lines attached, and I form a list of tasks in my mind to define who this patient will be to me today. A busy patient. An easy patient. A high maintenance family. A helpful family. They are who they are in this hospital room until I see the photos and hear the stories that show me a fuller picture of who this patient and this family was before illness struck. A love for bicycles, art, and silly hand-painting projects. An honors student who got in some trouble here and there but was trying to work things out. And then I remember, this child is ill, but this child is not his or her illness.
This morning, I woke up to a busy day ahead at church. I was tired on many levels. I had just worked two busy 12-hour nursing shifts the previous two days. I said to the husband, “Sometimes it’s hard to be both a nurse and a pastor’s wife.” And then my Father in Heaven reminded me, “Well, good, because that’s not who you are today. Don’t be a nurse. Don’t be the pastor’s wife. You are a child of God. You are a friend to those in your church community, and they are friends to you. So just be who you are today because that’s what you need the freedom to be.”
Today, I kept conversations about my pregnancy to a minimum. I tried hard not to look at my church community through the lens of a concerned pastor’s wife, but just as one who was simply part of the community, just being me, being there. I know the roles are necessary sometimes. But today, it wasn’t about the roles, and that made today a really good day.