Worth beyond Words

Worth beyond Words

You see the raw edges of humanity from a hospital bed.

The lady who doesn’t know where she is, or who anyone is, her reaction to the world a long, frightened sob. The chap wandering into our ward in his dishevelled pyjamas, scratching his head. ‘I’m lost,’ he says, summing up the words so many feel in this place of sickness and sorrow. The lady in the corner is silent; she can no longer speak. She tears off her oxygen mask in rage. Why are they inflicting this thing on her? Why won’t they leave her alone? Why do they keep sticking needles in her? They are trying to hurt her, and no one is listening.

My ward is a cacophony of wheezing and noisy nebulizers. Six people with lungs not working in the way they should. Six people who might feel that they are burdens, that they have nothing left to offer. ‘I’m causing you so much trouble,’ one lady said the other night. ‘I’m so sorry. I wish I could just die and leave you to help other people.’

So many people feel their worth has gone along with their health.

Yesterday, I watched a scene play out here in my ward which reminded me of how God feels about each and every one of us. A lady suffering from dementia, the lady unable to speak, lay in the corner, her hands fumbling with a red rubber ball someone had given her. As a nurse went over to replace her oxygen mask, laughing and telling her she was a little monkey, the lady threw the ball straight at her. She was shocked, then laughed and threw it back. ‘Fabulous aim, Rose!* You play cricket in your younger days?’

Rose threw the ball back, and the game was started. Gradually, a few other nurses and health care assistants gathered around Rose’s bed, and joined the game. ‘She’s smiling, look,’ one of them said, and leaned in to stroke Rose’s arm. ‘Look at you, darling, you’re enjoying this!’

They began to speak to her, words of love and compassion, telling her how lovely she was, how much fun she was. I could see her shoulders shaking with mirth as they continued the ball game, and one of the nurses did a wild imitation of her, a dance in the middle of the ward. Rose copied her, her body come alive in a kind of boogie. ‘Music!’ a nurse said. ‘Give her some music.’ They put her radio on and played some Michael Jackson, and her face was alight with something.

With the worth beyond words these nurses gave her. They took time to speak to her, to play with her, to bring her to life. They could have simply continued with their work – they had enough of it to do. But they took ten minutes in the middle of a busy day to say ‘Yes. You are valuable. You have worth. You are not a burden.’

But they took ten minutes in the middle of a busy day to say ‘Yes. You are valuable. You have worth. You are not a burden.’

I watched this with emotions running high through my own mind and spirit, because there are times I feel like nothing but a burden. These nurses were restoring dignity to a human being who is of infinite value, not because of what she can offer or do in herself, but because she is human. I have seen it again and again with other patients. ‘You are not causing us bother,’ they say. ‘Don’t say that.’ As well as seeing the raw edges of humanity, I see the soft edges of kindness and goodness we can offer when we choose to.

I see the image of God stamped upon everyone here, from the lady with dementia who wants to play, to the lady on 24 hour o2 who can hardly draw breath, to the people serving coffee who go the extra mile and the nurses and health care assistants who sit on your bed and ask you how you are. God’s at work here through the compassion and care I see everywhere. These people may be doing this as a job, but it’s so much more. They are imbuing value onto people who society have stripped value away from.

They are imbuing value onto people who society have stripped value away from.

And that, I believe, is because we are imbued with value in our deepest beings, in the imprint of God. There is nothing we can do to lose our value. Nothing we can do to make us more valuable. In our greatest moments of weakness, there our value stands starkly against the wisdom of the world which says we must do to gain worth, that we are only worth what we can offer. What we can produce.

This ‘wisdom’ means nothing in the light of who we are as God’s wildly loved and adored children. Perhaps it is in those moments where we are weakest – where we might feel like burdens – where we can lean into the everlasting arms and find that we are loved. We are utterly and unconditionally loved, and the word ‘burden’ has no place in this love. A newborn baby is not a burden, cradled in his mother’s arms, unable to ‘do’ anything but recieve, and so for us.

If you feel like you are a burden, like you are useless, like you have nothing left to give, please know that you are so, so much more. You are worth more than words can say.

If you feel like you are a burden, like you are useless, like you have nothing left to give, please know that you are so, so much more. You are worth more than words can say.

You are Loved.

Worth more than Words.

 

*name changed

23 thoughts on “Worth beyond Words

  1. Liz, I’m hoping that you must be beginning to feel a bit better now that you have the strength to blog.
    It is so profoundly sad when anyone feels like they are a burden. Even those of us who feel we have nothing to offer can shine in someone else eyes, and those of us who can see it could do a lot worse than letting them know.
    I think it’s a sign of how much you value people that you have recognised people’s worth in their (and your!) time of distress.
    Very wise words; I hope you take them to heart yourself – you also need to know that ‘You are worth more than words can say. You are Loved. Worth more than Words.’
    I haven’t known you long, but see your light shining. Thank you for your wise words, and smiling face x

    1. Thank you Jacky for these lovely words. I believe with everything that I am that every person is of infinite value. bless you xx

  2. Thank you Liz. Do hope you are feeling a little better and on the way to recovery from your infections. When we have time and look around we see nurses and careers do work for the love of others

  3. Thank you for your wise words Liz. I hope you are feeling much better.
    My mother who is 96 has dementia and at times she sings, chants Psalm 23 and says the Lord’s Prayer.
    I bought her a CD 101 hits from World War 2 because most of the songs she sings are from at era. The carers have told me that if she gets distressed they take her to her room to listen to this CD and immediately calms her enough to sing along.
    Beliefs and music are so important.

    1. Oh that’s so beautiful Ann, to think of these songs calming your mum, speaking directly to her soul. Thank you and bless you and your mother. xx

  4. Thank you for your wise words Liz. I hope you are feeling much better.
    My mother who is 96 has dementia and at times she sings, chants Psalm 23 and says the Lord’s Prayer.
    I bought her a CD 101 hits from World War 2 because most of the songs she sings are from at era. The carers have told me that if she gets distressed they take her to her room to listen to this CD and immediately calms her enough to sing along.
    Beliefs and music are so important.

  5. I can’t help but cry reading this, I relate to this so much so know exactly how you feel, stay strong beautiful lady you can get through this. You are no burden, you are a true inspiration to so many. Sending you lots of love my beautiful friend xxxx

  6. Hi liz,
    my name is Bruce Summers and as well as being a Consultant at the Princess Royal Hospital, I am also lead tutor for Medical Humanities at Keele Medical School. Medical humanities involves the integration of literature, poetry, the visual arts , music, theatre etc into the medical curriculum to try and preserve the empathy that medical students possess when they enter medical school which unfortunately gets lost during their very intensive biomedical training . I wonder if I could use the first half of your excellent blog describing the ball of wool game in my humanities teaching. I’m not sure exactly how I would do that, but I would obviously let you know before doing anything and obviously check with you the part I want to use. You write beautifully.

    Bruce

    1. Hi Bruce,
      Thank you so much for your kind words. I’d be really happy for you to use any part you need in your teaching. Medical humanities sounds really fascinating – treating the whole person, which of course aids recovery and simply gives worth to a person.

      Many thanks

      Liz

  7. So beautiful, Liz, and so wonderful and loving of you to post it for all of us to benefit from! Especially since I know you’re not feeling so great right now, yourself—I know it cost you to write and post this. It’s truly beautiful, and it really does speak of all the nurses who go so far out of their way to truly care for us and SEE us for what we are—just as human and just as worthy of love and attention as anyone. I’ve known so many nurses like these, and appreciate every one of them!

  8. God works in mysterious ways, that through your illness you are given insight and profound wisdom. You are able to see and know God. That He is at work right where you are, working in and through the lives of those around you. Eloquent to the core in your writing, inspired by the Creator of all for the benefit of all. Liz, thank you.

  9. Thank you for that Liz. My husband has Parkinsons and early Dementia. It was good to see the scene through your eyes of the nurses having (and giving) fun to the old lady. Hope you improve quickly.

  10. Liz

    I hope you are feeling a little better today.
    Your inspirational words shine a light in the dark corners of many people. Those who feel they have lost their power to influence their lives. Watching the world and people rush by in its business. Those nurses demonstrate the value of stopping our individual, task driven lives for a moment, to meet another’s need, by walking with them side by side .
    Praying that you gain strength day by day.
    Mary

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