Taking Risks That Are Worth It

The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But the good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” Martin Luther King Jr

So…I wrote about that female inmate having a panic episode (my preceding post "I Hear You") and the female Deputy called me from near the cage that usually kept them and other staff if they needed safety when passing medications for Medical Staff or just the Custody, doing their work while monitoring the inmates housed in different dorms. Within their sight.

I wanted to pull the sobbing inmate away from the throng observing us and decided to bring her to the nearby, tiny Clinic where the medications and other medical supplies were stored.

“Let’s go!” as she replied that she could try to walk, the three Female Deputies hearing me. I shouted so they would know that I was taking that inmate away from the others. Which meant it would only be her and I in that tiny room. A risk I usually took when doing sick calls. But a risk that was always a necessity not only on my part but especially for the inmate who needed some space to be able to vent out her broken heart. Away from prying inmates. Away from deputies who were tired of hearing their pleas, sometimes, alibis and lies.

As she started feeling better, the tears drying out, I sensed a figure passed by. I saw the warm smile. I smiled back and greeted him. It was the Sergeant. And I knew he didn’t like what he saw. That it was only the inmate and I. He put an emphasis already during their briefing that morning... That officers needed to be there all the time as medical staff did sick call. For our safety. As inmates could be dangerous and unpredictable.

A female deputy all of a sudden appeared in front of the door. But my sick call was over by then. The deputy's face reflected an upset image. I knew…They must have gotten in trouble from the Sergeant.

Much later, the Sergeant came to our Main Clinic and spoke with me and the other nurse regarding his wishes to change that attitude. Of doing sick call. But always with the presence of deputy. I reassured him. It wouldn’t happen again.  But I didn’t apologize. Knowing I hollered to the Deputies who failed in following the inmate and me. When he left, the other nurse passing medications did tell me that when the Sergeant told the deputies that there was a nurse doing sick call and there was no deputy, they all acted that they were not aware. In short, they all lied to cover themselves. But still…They were the ones who got in trouble.

What the Sergeant did not know, I had to take that kind of risk all the time.

God’s children do…We all face dangers daily and face risks for God. We do when we want to share about Christ’s gift of salvation despite the fact that doing so will offend some. We take that risk even when people laugh at us or do not believe in the truth that we share. We take that risk when we love those who are hard to love and easily forgive no matter how many times we get hurt by others, much more with our enemies.

But it is the risk among the risks that is worth facing and tackling. Not for our personal gain. But for God’s glory alone. Most of the time, it will not be easy. But no matter what the outcome, we can be confident that God will never leave us alone as we take those risks and He is faithful to supply us with what we need.

May we take that risks without hesitation when opportunity comes to plant that seed in a perishing heart. Let us plant and let God do the harvesting with His sickle of love and redemption.

A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants. – 2 Timothy 2:24-26 (NLT)

I Hear You

"Hear my words, Lord!
    Consider my groans!

Pay attention to the sound of my cries, my king and my God,
        because I am praying to you!

Lord, in the morning you hear my voice.
    In the morning I lay it all out before you.

    Then I wait expectantly." - Psalm 5:1-3 (CEB)

The Female Deputy had brought a crying inmate worker to my attention as I tried to familiarize myself last Sunday in the other Correctional Facility where I used to work for a few years back in my earlier days at the county. The supervisor personally called me and had requested if I could work in his facility. I easily accepted though with a warning that I had not worked there in such a long time. He reiterated with understanding and encouragement that I would have help when I arrived.

I prayed for God to be there with me and Him be my guide. I knew nothing that would get in the way would faze me if I had Him and His wisdom guiding me. Even throughout the shift, I prayed silently.

“Can you walk to my Clinic?” I asked the sobbing inmate worker, her long hair slightly disheveled as she complained of chest pain.

“I think I’m having a heart attack,” she complained as more tears flowed and stained her pale cheeks.

“Trust me…You’re not…” I reassured as I continued to keep my stare on her as she sat on the metal bench where the inmates usually ate their “chow” (meals).

Letting out a deep sigh, she got up and walked a few steps into the tiny room where medical supplies were being housed.

“My chest hurts, Nurse,” she tried to remind me of a possible heart problem.

“I know. I’m not ignoring that. It’s not my business to know. That is…Only if you want to vent out…” I waited a few seconds and looked intently at her right hand trying to massage her mid-chest. Her tears continuing to flow.

“Take a deep breath…”

“If you want to vent out, please do so. Your being silent and trying to keep what bothers you will not help you a bit…” I coaxed.

“You’re right…” she admitted, blowing a strong puff of air as her lungs deflated.

“I did have a history of anxiety attack…”

I hear you…” I insisted…

“No heart problem. When you and the other nurse were out there passing meds, I was thinking about my 7 children back home. I miss them…”

“That’s when I thought my chest started hurting…But I think it’s more of my anxiety now.”

“When are you going to be released? That is…if you don’t mind me asking…”

“In a month, Ma’am…”

“Here’s the deal…You’ve been here for many months now. A month, though easier said than done, would go by quickly. Try to be good and don’t cause any trouble. You don’t want any hindrance to your pending release,” I cautioned.

“I won’t…My mom has been sick, too. She has some rare kind of cancer. I want to be there for her…”

“I’m glad you vented out. Hey! I don’t know your family and friends…Who am I gonna’ share your problems with?”

She laughed. The tears had run dry. Her eyes wrinkled as she smiled and her right hand went relaxed on her lap and stopped rubbing her mid-chest.

“You know what? I’m gonna’ give you some Motrin anyway.”

Her eyes shone with gratitude. She didn’t expect my last gesture. Knowing that she was not having any true heart problem.

“You may not have a heart attack but I see it with inmates who had panic attacks before. Their muscles hurt because they tensed up. I can’t imagine that. To be stiff and be worried at the same time,” I explained.

Stuffing the 9 packets of Motrin I gave with instruction to her left, upper pocket of her blue uniform, she thanked me. She uttered that she was feeling better by then.

“I will have the Mental health doctor follow up with you, too,” I added as her shadow slowly mingled back to the crammed dorm in her unit. I lost sight of her as her body was swallowed by a throng of concerned female inmate workers in her dorm.

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I went back to my seat, facing the empty seat where that inmate had sat before…I sighed…I prayed. I thanked God…Because I didn’t know that inmate did not have a heart condition. I only knew that if I could make her heart spill what was inside would somehow release the pressure that was building up in the first place. And right there…I learned something…About my own supplications that I always try to send up to the heavens. Of how the Holy Spirit would want me to spill what was in my heart. But with humility. How often I rushed my pleas. Of how my prayers and praises could be a work of my hasty mind and heart. Heart that should have a steady fire.(Then, my being lost to silence was interrupted by the other nurse handing out the medications to the inmates. She was grateful that I went with her to the female facility that I was just nearby when that inmate had an anxiety attack. I thanked her in return for showing me around. I knew there would always be a purpose wherever I was scheduled to work).

And indeed…God hears the voice of my cry. And your cry. If our cries come from a sincere heart whose weeping produces that kind of shrill only God’s heart can hear…We may not have the right words. We may not even have the words to say…But God knows…He even lets the Spirit intervenes for us...God understands…Because that’s Who He is…

God!!! Who is always ever near...Just a prayer away...

Crying And Healing

"I'm sorry....I am about to cry..." I whispered audible enough for my husband, my son and my husband's friend(I will call "T") visiting from another country to hear. I choked up, wanting to release a few words from my mouth that seemed to be blocked by my heart feeling the pain from another person's difficult loss.

My husband and his friend...They used to work together many years ago. They were communicating before despite the thousands of oceans between them. Then, we moved into another house. We didn't know. He also moved into another job. Those changes separated them and made them lose their contact. As seasons changed, as our children grew up, as we had transition from our youth to added years of adulthood...time slipped like sand...

T. knew some of our relatives, us, being from the same hometown. He got hold of my husband by sending a text. So, my husband, excitedly invited him to our house. He accepted. But in that short communication, he tried to explain. He  would not be with his wife. Fighting back tears, he told my husband...She passed away. Few months ago. From cancer. And that was why he came here to another country. Trying to be strong, he wanted his only child just to breathe a different air. Out of all the pain they both had to go through. They wanted to remain strong. And to find healing.

In front of me, despite us meeting for the first time, he narrated all the wounds that opened up and the difficult road he walked on. Especially his wife. And son. As tears welled up in my eyes, I prayed silently in my mind. For God's help to help us with our words to T.

(For God always comforts us first....so we can comfort others)...

I let the tears flow. My son, despite being young, let his tears flow. Without embarrassment, he shared the pain he felt, too. All of us were crying.

"I am very sorry. That we were never there during that time. But I know it's never too late. To offer you, T, our help. If there's anything that we can be of help, please don't hesitate to let us know."

He nodded his head. As if that was his way of saying "Thanks". No words came out as he stared at my son openly crying, too in front of him who he met just an hour prior to that.

"I wish my son will do that. I wish he will show his emotions, too like you Kristian," he uttered.

"Because I know crying is good. It could be healing," he added.

My husband and I explained...That growing up we always included our son in everything. Letting him know of all the steps we were taking. Whether it was a step that led to victory. Or to loss. We reassured him that "crying was not a sign of weakness." As we walked on many roads of life's uncertainty.

"Ahhh..." we all sighed. As those pent up emotions were released, we remembered some memories. And how we laughed at some. Crying. Laughing. Together. It could be healing.

"I will probably come back  here in December," T. teased us.

"Anytime..."my hubby and I said as we said our goodbyes and hugged each other.

"Thanks be to God," I uttered loudly on purpose.

"For our time together."

It was good to send him off with a smile on his face. What a contrary to when he first arrived upon stepping on our worn out welcome mat. Indeed, my family and I felt that big wound in his heart. But as he left, I prayed. That he would hide instead his wound and painful loss in Christ's wounds. That was a sure way of finding healing. For in Christ's wounds, "we are healed."

He was wounded for our rebellious acts. He was crushed for our sins. He was punished so that we could have peace, and we received healing from his wounds.- Isaiah 53:5 (GWT)

The Manipulative Inmate

“Oh no!” exclaimed one Health Assistant upon seeing who came to be evaluated by one of the nurses.

“Him again…”quoted the other right after.

I just came back from the break room after having dinner with another nurse I had not seen in a long time. I used to work with her on night shifts that I did then. She was kind enough to volunteer to help our shift out after learning that it would be short last Sunday afternoon. I thanked her.

Upon arrival and being the temporary Charge Nurse, the covering nurse had warned me that two were already seeking help for their pain, one with abdominal and the other from the chest. She was going to see one with the abdominal pain, whining and with tears, kept complaining that something serious was going on. I took the other inmate with the chest pain and much later determined it was not a true cardiac problem but more of a pain coming from an old bullet wound to the area below his left shoulder.

I heard the other grimacing and moaned in pain when the other nurse barely touched his stomach area. I didn’t see him when I came back from my break and after my own sick call happened to take a look from where he was sitting. I took a deep sigh. I knew him well, too. I had dealt with him, too. Many…many….times.

He was known for faking his medical emergencies. Complaining mostly of abdominal pain and that there was a “lump” there. All the known tests were done. All came back negative. Along with that treatment modality, he was also being cared for by the Mental Health Services. But I knew that he was doing that on purpose to try to get into the Special Housing Unit where those with chronic conditions were being housed. Inmates knew that it was a more relaxed environment, the unit, having fewer number of inmates that resided in each segment. They knew that it was right behind the Infirmary where if they needed pain medications or other treatment, we, the medical staff was just right there. But he never got what he wanted. For many months now. He kept trying. Crying. Rubbing his stomach. All was done was he was kept until seen by the doctor. Only to be sent back again to his cell. Many...many...times...

I felt that way at the beginning…When those in higher positions took away my position and accused me of a lie regarding my employment. I pled…Many…many….times…To God. In His silence, I pondered. I cried. I protested and begged that I deserved not to lose this job. He told me to wait…It had been over a year now…Still…He told me to wait some more…And in that process of waiting, my perspective changed. Not by me. But by Him. By His Word. He hasn’t truly closed the door yet. It remained ajar as I remained working. Though lesser hours, actually became more like an advantage for me. The situation taught me to trust deeper. It taught me not just to have faith but to act on my faith. To be able to show those who wanted me ruined that nothing in their plans would manifest because Someone else has His hold on me. Someone else’s plans were already long established by Him.

Manipulation….That was what it was all about…Like that manipulative inmate who wanted things turned around so he could have the advantage. Like those people who wanted me to quit because they wanted to show their power. Like me at first who wanted to change those circumstances so I could have the edge by my own strength. That would have been disastrous if I did. That would show how much I did not trust the God Who has control of everything.

“Give us a few more months, Ms. Rcubes,” the lady reassured me. The lady who worked to fight for those oppressed in their workplaces.

“That’s okay…”I replied without any anger.

“I truly understand the process…” I added.

And I was sure. 100% sure of my answer...Knowing that nothing in this place could ever satiate my hunger. And all of my needs. But Christ alone.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.- 1 Corinthians 13:4-7(ESV)

My Heart Is Okay

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. – Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

Seems like you look younger than the last time I saw you uncle,” I verbalized to my uncle with a big smile on his face upon seeing my family and I as I asked my husband and child if we could go visit him and my aunt to bring some fruits.

“My doctor said my heart is okay now. I was sicker when you saw me but everything is good now,” he quickly replied.

Pointing up with his index finger, he said, “Guess the Lord is good on me.”

“He is good,” I interrupted…

“He is good to everyone especially to those who call on Him.”

“I always pray since I had a heart problem. The doctor said I needed a pacemaker but with my last check-up, he said I didn’t need it.”

“That is awesome,” I replied.

“I’ve been good all my life, staying away from any vices. Maybe that’s why I’m strong even when I’m 82.”

The short visit we savored as we all gathered around a small table in their nook area. My son was pulling a grape at a time from the plates they had served us as I saw my husband took a sip from a glass of orange juice. More old memories flooded our minds and it felt good to laugh together. It felt good to see him and my aunt remaining strong despite their aging years. We all gave both of them hugs as we said our “goodbye’s” as I left a promise that I would continue to visit them, time permitting. They got excited to hear that and with big smiles sent us off from the front door, waving endlessly, thanking us endlessly for seeing them.

I kept my eyes on the road as I steadied my hands on the steering wheel. But the thought in my mind kept flowing. I recognized the truth that my uncle remained healthy and strong not because he was a righteous person. He was that way because he guarded his heart as he believed in God up there Who was the Source of his good blessings in life including the healing of his ailing heart. He remained healthy because of Him Who loved to bless those who love Him.

If one says he loves God, then, he must avoid all evil ways. True saints do not walk in darkness. They walk in the light for He is the light. Hearing His Word is not enough. It is doing what His Word says that helps one guard his heart against all evil things. That is the true sign….of grace working continuously in one’s ailing heart and restoring it to become whole.

Parting with sins and self-confidence as one surrenders his heart to Jesus makes him find His hidden riches.

Lord, all I can say is "Thank You" for Your love and grace. Thank You for the healing that comes from You. Help us guard our hearts against all evil ways and all those things that do not please You. You indeed become our True Friend once we let You in and open the door of our hearts to You. Thank You for Your presence in our lives, to those who believe in You. How awesome that You brought us incorruptible things to replace those things residing in our hearts that must be sickening to You. How awesome that in our poor state, You make us rich! You alone deserve all our praises and thanks. I love You, Lord. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

All posts/composed songs copyright by RCUBEs.