On the brain, the heart, and waves that just won’t stop.


I was telling one of my nursing friends yesterday that I still get that little squeeze of anxiety before every shift I work. Even after all the experience I’ve gained in my six plus years as an RN, it’s still there. Not so crippling anymore, just present. Palpable. Strangely preparatory. 

Usually it strikes just as I turn my car into the hospital parking lot. There’s just something about seeing that big building, all lit up and serious-looking against the softness of the early morning’s darkness. 


It’s just a quick little reminder deep in my gut of where I’m going … the fact that I have absolutely no control over what I’m walking into … and that, whatever it is, Debi’s going to be responsible for it. 

And there it all sits.

Squarely on my shoulders.


That “big-picture enormity” involved in every tiny decision I’ll make that day … regardless of how many interruptions invade my sanity … and no matter how trivial things may appear to be on the surface … believe me, nothing is trivial. It’s all important, and it all must be documented.

So as I park my car, what usually follows is that moment of self-doubt at these thoughts. Will I actually be able to handle it all? Do I even want to??? Seriously. Do I?

But I open the door and get out of the car. Again and again and again.


It’s been over ten years now since my life was first turned upside down by this bizarre nursing/lupus-laced journey. It amazes me to think of all I’ve learned and experienced as I’ve fumbled my way through it all. (It also gives me quite the headache sometimes, too.) It’s truly overwhelming.  

Do you know that I’ve sliced open a heart before? As well as a brain? I know, I know … anybody who’s ever taken anatomy has done the same thing. No big deal.

But do you know what I particularly remember about doing this? Not anything that was ever on an exam, believe me. 


What I remember is that, when you open up a heart, you can visualize all the different components and actually see how they work. The four chambers, and the valves that open and close in order to pump that blood around our bodies. You can touch them, move them. You can actually see how the muscle density around each ventricle is uniquely suited to the strength needed to accomplish its particular job. I find the heart absolutely fascinating.

The brain on the other hand … so complex, such a mystery. I remember holding it in my hands, balancing its weight. I remember taking slice … after slice … after slice, but never being able to see how it works. The actual function of the brain is hidden from the naked eye. You can’t see how memories are stored, the way learning is processed, or especially what makes people think the way they do. 


But what I do remember, though, is that these same thoughts whose origins we can’t even begin to understand, can actually be trained.  Little by little, step-by-tiny-baby-step, we absolutely have the power to steer their direction.

Which leads us back to my ridiculous pre-shift quivers.

It’s on that morning walk up to my unit where I fight back against those anxiety-laden doubts. I have to or I’ll never make it all the way up there. I’ve actually written about this many, many times before (read “When a tired nurse stares up that ramp”  or On redefining normal and scraping the burnt off your toast. for just a sample).


This is where I remember that I CAN’T do all of that alone. Or any of it, for that matter.

The past ten years of being hit with relentless waves of challenges have taught me how much I can’t do even a minute of any of this alone. Not nursing. Not Lupus. Not anything.

And I believe that God has been using these tough times to remind me of that. Not only that I can’t do it, but that I’m actually NOT doing it alone. Even when I think I am. Me and my overconfident, snarky self both tend to forget that sometimes.


The anxieties that bubble up inside me are just proof that I’m not done learning. That I still need softening … humbling … teaching. That my faith is still the size of a mustard seed, and that I still haven’t learned to lean confidently into those waves that keep coming at me – I try to recoil from them instead.  

But God won’t let me do that. 


He just keeps sending the waves … over and over again … patiently leading me … over and over again … reminding me … over and over again … that his peace and help is right there with me. Eternally. Even when I forget. I just need to remember … lean in … and trust. Over and over again.

And this is my prayer for you today, as well, my friends. Remember to trust.

Thanks for growing with me. ❤

 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:4-9)




2 thoughts on “On the brain, the heart, and waves that just won’t stop.

  1. Thankyou Debi. You describe something here I remember well. The edge of learning and how it is that we are not in control is life long. Always a pointer to WHO is. These reminders help keep everything in proper order. Thankyou for being a wonderful writer and a faith-filled one at that!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s