Saturday, March 5, 2011

In Your Face? Maybe so.

I had a reader send me an email a while back.  She said she thought she might be friends with me, but she was unsure as I seem to be an "in your face" Christian.  I was shocked.  She was basing this on my old side bar that had steps of how to become a Christian.  I was actually tired of that sidebar and had been thinking of changing it for months, but couldn't come up with anything...

Anyway, that sidebar was basically a spin off of the "ABCs" that our church teaches every single child that walks through the door during Vacation Bible School.  Call me crazy, but if it's unoffensive to children, I think that adults can handle it.  Other than maybe kids are more willing to admit they've done wrong and the only way they can ever get to heaven is acknowledging that they have sinned and they need a savior. (Romans 3:23)

But that is not what this post is about.  This post is about conversations at work.  Conversations that perhaps paint me as an "in your face" Christian.

One of my coworkers was asking how to join our church, "Do you have to take a class or something?"  My response led to a discussion about salvation, and my belief that once saved, you can never lose your salvation.  It is always secure. (Romans 8:35-39, and here's a great article on secure salvation) God promises us an eternity spent with Him in heaven...

I guess that's a pretty bold conversation to have in front of a mixed crowd.

Yesterday I had a very trying patient.  He did not want to be there.  He was adamant that nothing was wrong with his dialysis graft, and that we were wasting his time.  I told him that if the dialysis unit was wrong, then he could go gloat to them, but if they were right, he would be glad we saved it before it failed completely.  There were many, many conversations with him that day.  Trying conversations.  Conversations where I struggled to be patient and kind...

When we were back in the procedure room, and I was getting the patient situated with monitors and warm blankets, and asking my last minute safety questions (which I had already asked as soon as he arrived, but we double check in procedure) he began to be belligerent and confrontational saying he'd already answered those questions and he wasn't a liar, so I needed to quit asking the same questions over and over...

The doctor walked in.  "Andi, would you like to do a time out now?"

Translation:  Would you like to do the time out (a safety tool where we all verbalize what procedure is being done and I compare the information with the patient ID band and consent form to be sure we are all doing the right procedure) so you can give this fellow some sedation and SHUT HIM UP?

At least, that's how I interpreted his wink and smile...

So, I gave the patient his sedation.

A few minutes into the procedure I realized I'd forgot to offer up prayer before we started, so I just paused a moment in what I was doing and said a quick blessing over the patient...

Fast forward about 20 minutes into the procedure.  The doctor had failed to mention he was about to stretch open a narrow spot in the fistula.  Or I hadn't heard him say it, which is a real possibility.  Angioplasty in a dialysis fistula is very painful.  There is really nothing I can do to make it not painful, other than a dollop more of pain medicine mixed with some Versed to make him forget he ever felt it...

He woke up when that balloon inflated and started yelling and was very angry because he claims we said it "wouldn't hurt." Which is totally untrue.  We would never say that because, as I said, angioplasty hurts.  You can't numb the inside of vein walls.

I gave him a little more medicine.  He went back to sleep.  And this time I tried to be more diligent about watching my monitor, the patient, and to see if the doctor had the tool out for angioplasty (I do not remember the name.)

I noticed he was reaching for it.  I asked if I could premedicate before he stretched.  "Sure.  I know you don't want to have him wake up again."  Again the wink and smile.

"No.  This is just me being Jesus here."

"BEING Jesus?  What does that mean?"

"Now, don't go thinking I'm being blasphemous.  That's not what I was saying.  As a Christian, I'm to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those around me.  (Philippians 2:3-7) That includes taking good care of my patients and making sure they don't feel/remember when we hurt them.  You know, show the world who Jesus is."

He looked at me slightly askance.

"Testify, Andi.  Testify," the scrubbed in radiology tech said.

And the doctor had no comment to offer to that.

So....

In hindsight maybe I am an "in your face" Christian.  If being an "in your face" Christian means I pray with patients before procedures, and any time I sense they are scared or nervous about results.  I talk about my relationship with Jesus, and what He is talking to me about right now.  I put up index cards with the memory verse I'm working on memorizing next to the computer at the nurses station.  I talk to my coworkers about what Jesus means to me, and I will call us out to "have a little Jesus in our hearts" when we are being cranky and having a rough day.

I guess if you take those things into consideration...I must be a pretty "in your face" Christian.

And I'm okay with that.



As a Christian, I'm called to be like Christ.  Loving.  Gentle.  Compassionate.

But Christ was also honest.  He did not worry about offending people when He called them to Him. 

Sometimes I think as Christians we struggle with sharing the gospel, for fear that we will offend someone.  I worry that they will say I'm being self righteous or judgmental by saying "There is only one way to heaven."  But that is the truth.  The Bible clearly says "No man may come to the Father except through me."  (John 14:6-9) Translation:  The only way to heaven is through Jesus.  And Jesus calls us to confess our sins and profess Him as our Savior and Lord. 

If we claim Christ as the savior of our lives, yet fail to share that salvation message with others around us, then we are failing to do what Christ commanded us to do. (Mark 16:15) If I proclaim Christ is my savior, yet fail to show love to those around me, I'm failing to do what Christ called me to do.  (John 13:34-35)  If I proclaim Christ as my savior, and yet do not do my job to the best of my ability, (Colossians 3:23) giving God glory in every part of it, then I'm not doing what I was called to do.

Christ paid the debt for my sins.  He took the burden of my sins, even though I did NOTHING to deserve salvation, and carried them to the cross.  (Romans 5:8)  Because of His faithfulness and love, I have the promise of eternity in heaven.  He did not promise that the journey to heaven as a follower of Christ would be easy.  He promised me the exact opposite.  The Bible promises trials of all kinds.  And it promises strength to get through those trials.  (Philippians 4:13)

Not an easy journey.  Strength for the journey. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

So.  That's what God is talking about with me lately.  What's God been saying to you lately?

9 comments:

Andrea Tucker said...

Love it Andi! I think a better description than "in your face Christian" would be an "I'm on your side Christian" someone who wants the very best for those around you and knowing that the love of Christ "is" the best for all of us. You did not demand that everyone accept what you say, or try to convert them at gun point. You just want them to know that there is a better way. And not only do you say what you believe, you put that practice into actions of love and concern. If that's "in your face" may we all be called that. Blessings to you my friend! Remember, " Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. " Matthew 5:11.

Southern Gal said...

Being firm in your beliefs should not be offensive, but there are always those who take offense no matter what. I just wanted to say "Amen" to the radiology techs comment!

Taylor said...

I think you are bold in your faith and that is just what you should be. I wish I could be bolder.

Emily Sue said...

Wow. I read this before leaving for church this morning. Then got to church, sat down and listened to a sermon on... well, this. I sat there thinking, "Testify, Andi, testify!" (And then thought, "Okay, God, I get the message...")

Marilyn said...

WEll, in my devotion this morning, Proverbs 13:15 said: The way of trangressors is hard. The bible tells us that there are two road, the broad and the narrow. The broad road is easy to enter but a hard way to travel. The narrow gate is hard to enter into but safer and better to travel down. The farther the narrow road progresses, the easier the traveling is. Don't we all want to take the safe journey? I am proud of you for being the fine Christian lady that you are and that you use your blog as an instrument to witness for Christ.

Crazy Sister said...

I think of 'in your face' Christians as offensive, self righteous, arrogant, demanding and intrusive. The kind who yell condemnation at people, secure in the knowledge that they're perfect now...

And that's not you at all! I'd call you an honest and open Christian. It sounds to me like the people around you respect you for that, even if they don't know quite what to say when you unexpectedly bring the Lord into their day...

Good on you!

Jen said...

I figured I should chime in since I'm "the reader." I was never offended. Having been raised in the church my whole life, even went to parochial school for several years, and spent several years as a youth minister, I have never been uncomfortable with or offended by expressions of faith. When you describe your prayers with patients, or "being Jesus" I love that. Really. I also don't feel like I can't accept that I'm a sinner. I go to a confessional church. We begin every worship with Confession and Forgiveness.

What bothers me is that there is a trend in this country of morally superior righteousness. A Christianity that doesn't seek to meet an individual on the road of their own journey, but rather to either berate or dismiss people. I told you, Andi, when I commented that that attitude didn't seem to match the rest of your writing. And it turns out I was glad I didn't just judge you by that original side note. And that we were able to converse. I always witness from love and never judgment (expressed or implied). People know their own failings. They don't need my input on that. People are drawn to love and grace. God can take care of the rest.

I just believe that while the Bible teaches me the nature of God and his interaction with all humanity, we need to always remember that God is ultimately a mystery that no words can adequately express. I'm not a verse chooser. I tend to believe the story only unfolds collectively and not piecemeal, but if I have to sum my faith in a verse I always return to Micah 6:8 (and why not, I'm in good company. Mary did too) "And what does the Lord require of you? To seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God." I fear that justice is not on the tongues of enough Christians today. I fear that humble is not in the vocab of most American Christians. And without that, are we really following Jesus? Jesus preached and active, community driven faith. Today it's all about my "personal savior" It's a lot of My, Mine, Me. I want all the words I see of witness to banish that. When I witness it is NOT about ME at all. From Andi's stories, I think she gets that very well.

While I am a worker in the kingdom of God, I am not the master. I don't possess the knowledge. I don't know the limits of God. I won't proclaim a limit, ever. I have hope that God will redeem us all in His way, in His time. It takes more faith to hope than to condemn some one else, I think. I believe that rather than ever make a statement that closes off people from God, we should always be expanding to whom we express God's love - his unconditional love. God doesn't need our protection.

Okay, this way long, and yet somehow feels incomplete. But I guess that is the way it goes. I hope this brought a little more understanding to what I meant.

Dawn said...

Wow. Just. Wow.

Roni said...

Andi - you amaze me. I'm proud to call you my friend! And I wish I could have even a little of the boldness you posess! And as far as what God has been saying to me lately - Honestly, I am seeing a trend towards contentment. And that God only wants the best for me and my family, and I don't need to worry about tomorrow. I need to trust in Him, every day, to meet those needs, every day. It's a choice, and I have to make that choice everyday. Well, you asked! :-)