Photo: Amelia holds Gramma’s hand
By M.Div. Student Amelia Green
Since childhood, my dream was to become a nurse. When I graduated with my BSN and passed my State Boards in 2014, I was convinced I was where God had called me to be. I certainly never planned to attend seminary.
I had no idea that the hours I spent singing “Jesus Loves Me” with a woman in the dementia unit would lead to receiving God’s call to pursue ministry. I didn’t realize God was preparing me for something more whenever I prayed with a resident or sat at the bedside of the dying. I didn’t know that the everyday tasks of my career would lead to a longing to provide more spiritual care…but God knew.
When I finally began the Master of Divinity program at Western the Fall of 2019, I had no idea I would need my classes and the encouragement of the WTS community to help me continue as a nurse during a pandemic.
As the world debated over the reality of COVID-19, the necessity of wearing masks, and the mandate to stay home, I found myself trying to balance working more hours, acclimating to a world on Zoom, and completing my coursework, while also navigating through a season of personal loss and grief.
I had to quickly learn how to show my residents they were loved, once smiles were hidden behind masks and physical touch became limited, and especially after the mandate came that visitors could only be allowed inside nursing facilities if their loved one was dying.
I can still hear the joy in a woman’s voice when she told me about her first outdoor visit with her husband a couple months after the pandemic started, but this was mixed with the grief of not being able to even touch his hand.
I can still see the panic on a resident’s face when I took her hand and told her that her COVID test had come back positive.
The painful realities of COVID-19 became personal when Gramma (my own grandmother) tested positive on November 23. Her symptoms started out mild, but by the following Saturday, I received a text saying she was being rushed to the nearest hospital.
I soon found myself flying down the highway, pleading with God to give me enough time to make it to the hospital. I wanted to be in the parking lot so I could be as close to Gramma as possible, and it was where I needed to be when I received the news that she passed. It was by God’s grace, and God’s grace alone, that I not only made it to the hospital, but I received a text stating that I could come inside.
In the last hours at Gramma’s bedside, I found myself leaning into my education at Western as well as my nursing profession. As I sat down beside my grandmother and took her hand in mine, I felt the overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit. I prayed that the Lord would be near her during her hour of need and that she would know she was not alone. I spoke Psalm 23 over her and could sense the comfort it also brought my mom, my aunt, my uncle, and myself. I was then able to use my nursing skills to help prepare my family for the changes that would be coming, which helped ease the fear I saw on their faces.
In the last moments before death we shared messages and love from family who could not be present, and we shared how God had answered so many of Gramma’s prayers. The room was filled with grief, but there was also overwhelming peace because my grandmother was now whole and reunited with so many of her loved ones.
It’s easy to focus on the high survival rate of COVID-19. By doing this, however, we overlook the 500,000+ deaths in the United States, as well as the 2.3 million deaths worldwide. We can forget that each of these numbers represents a life that has ended, and that an even greater number grieve from the losses. Some of these deaths represent older adults who had to spend their last weeks without their loved ones. One of those statistics represents my Gramma.
We have all suffered from the effects of COVID-19, and yet we are the ones who have been called and are being shaped to aid in God’s restorative work once this pandemic ends. We are the ones that Christ calls “the light of the world,” and no matter where our ministries take us, we are the ones who will bring Christ’s light into even the most broken and darkest of places.
Although I had no idea God’s plan was to blend ministry with my passion for nursing, I am grateful for the opportunity to live out my faith and training in a way that blesses others during this difficult time.
See this story and more in our March 2021 issue of The Commons