Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Balance. That word makes me cringe. Whenever I have some sort of moral dilemma, the thought that pops into my head is, "It's all about finding balance." Usually, I'm torn between the black and the white. One has certain pros/cons, the other has different pros/cons.

Hmm, I think I'm stuck in one of those moments where I know exactly what I'm trying to say but can't come up with the right words for it to make sense to anyone else.

Anyways, back to my thought. Here is the situation--I had a patient on my most recent shift who had been giving the staff a hard time and was being rude and demanding. When I came on shift I volunteered to take him because I knew it was either take him or take a man who was dying. I chose the angry man over the dying man, mainly because I'm terrified to have a patient die while under my care (a different issue, maybe I will write on it in a future blog). So I went into the angry man's room right away because I'd heard he likes to have things on time and consistent every day. I went in with the intention of doing my best to be pleasant, give the impression that I was there to make him comfortable through the night, and get my butt out of there as fast as I could to avoid getting stuck in there with his one-after-another demands when I had other patients with more urgent problems. When I went into the room and he was surprisingly pleasant. However, at his first request for me to help him take his shirt off, I told him quickly that I would have the aide come in and help him. He asked me why I couldn't help him and I told him quickly, "I'm just slammed right now," (which was completely true, I got on shift and had to start running a million miles an hour to make up for what day shift had missed because they had been short-staffed). He didn't comment, and let me go on my way after I gave him his medications. I didn't think much more about it until this morning on my drive home from work.

I replayed those moments in his room in my head, which then caused my moral dilemma. Should I have done exactly what I did to minimize confrontation and give myself more time to be with other patients who had slightly more urgent matters? Or should I have stayed in his room and helped him with whatever he needed? I can think of a few reasons why staying in there could have been the better thing to do...perhaps he was lonely and his demands were really a cry for attention, perhaps what he needed was really only to help him with his shirt, and by me putting him off he could have felt like he didn't matter to me, or perhaps any extra encounter with a smiling face is what he needed for encouragement and motivation to be a nicer person.

Now, this was only one encounter, and really there were only two choices. Either stay and risk getting stuck or not stay and risk compromising the nurse-patient trust relationship. So, I made a choice, and I decided to escape any possible confrontation and tend to more urgent matters.

But what about next time? If I always make a similar choice, then my pattern would be avoidance of the "difficult" patient. If I always were to make the opposite choice, then my pattern would be inefficiency in getting all the other patients what they need in a timely manner. I don't want to become either of those, so what do I do? I have to find balance. I'm finally coming back to the point of this matter...that most everything in this world requires some sort of balance because there is little that is always black or always white. It may be white in one situation but not in another.

So I start to long for Heaven when I think about how much I need balance in my life in order to make decisions and prioritize my time, efforts, and energy. Because in Heaven, it will be black and white all the time. (Well, I guess I'd rather think of it as being white all the time!) I won't have these moral dilemmas of wondering if I made the right choice here, said the wrong thing there, should have made a different decision etc etc.

Maybe I think it's odd that we have to work so hard on this earth for balance when balance won't even need to exist in Heaven. But I suppose balance is what is required when the world isn't perfect, and when there is sin in the world. Kind of a consequence of sin, I would say.

I will never be able to escape this quest for balance in life on earth. And so I long for the one place where I can escape this...Heaven. How sweet it will be.

1 comment:

Katie Sue said...

Sarah, I completely understand your dilemma. It is one I face everyday at school. Do I spend time talking with the student who meanders in before school or do I finish planning/grading/paperwork that has to be done? I've been trying to be more people of projects minded lately, but it's so difficult. I have no answers except to say continue listening to God's voice and He'll show you where He needs you to be in that moment.