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  • Writer's pictureKristen Cole

Right Hand Work: Why I am Here.

As I sit here, looking at this uber fancy website that my dear friend, Heather, really created for me, I am in disbelief.  It is a disbelief that this is actually something that I am doing, that I have set aside a space for and that I am making a priority.  It has been very easy for me to prioritize other things in my life, you know, the responsible things…not those things that are creative and dare I say it…risky.

I have been writing a mom blog for about 7.5 years now and I don’t intend on stopping that space.  I love my mom blog.  I love the memories that it has allowed me to capture and the “my voice” it gives my children for years to come.

Lately, I have really felt a prompting to write more of my “God Stuff”.  I have felt led to share a little bit more of my heart in faith and that has been a scary place for me.  There is always self-doubt when it comes to putting myself out there.  There is also a large amount of caution with which I have always approached life.

You see, I am a first-born to the “nth degree”.  I love order, organization, plans…just ask my husband.  I have done it all the “right way”.  I have never been a risk taker.  I haven’t strayed much from the path I knew would get the results I wanted.  I have been determined, hard-working, diligent, responsible…even deemed most honest and dependable in my senior class from high school superlatives.

Those firstborn qualities led me to Carolina where I pursued a degree in nursing, quite possibly the most difficult and demanding of undergraduate degrees.  While all of my roommates were chillin’ out watching Friends, I was cramming for exams and going to bed as early as possible to be able to drag myself out of that bed in time to get to 6:30am clinicals…rain, snow, ice or shine.

Nursing school taught me more life than book lessons, though the scientific knowledge I gained was astronomical.  It’s hard to think back on that time without remembering many stories…stories where I see my journey of the discovery of “right hand work”, work that I certainly witnessed in nursing school…but once recognized, had been woven throughout my life.  It just took some time to unravel, uncover and release…which is what I hope to do here…

Jesus teaches in Matthew about giving to the needy, “Be careful not to do your “acts of righteousness” before men, to be seen by them.  If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.  “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, a the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. “I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.  Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6: 1-4)

This charge came after a chapter in the bible with the Beatitudes, teaching about salt and light, the law, anger, lust, divorce, vows, revenge and loving enemies, then comes this charge about “giving to the needy”.  I was always taught to read the bible in context. So, in seeking to better understand my affinity to the “giving to the needy” verses, that’s just what I did.

I started with the beatitudes. Oh the beatitudes! Matthew 5:3-11:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.  

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.  

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kids of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

The beatitudes have always struck me, and in particular, the verse about the meek inheriting the earth.  What does it mean to be meek?  Mirriam-Webster says that it means the following: having or showing a gentle or quiet nature; not wanting to fight or argue with other people; enduring injury with patience and without resentment; deficient in spirit and courage; not violent or strong.

My NIV study bible leads me to Psalm 37:5-11 to better understand meek in biblical terms:

“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this; he will make  your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.  Refrain from anger and turn towards wrath; do not fret- it leads only to evil.  For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.  A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found.  But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.”

It goes on to say that the opposite of meek, the “clashing worldly value” is power…

And there it is.  Seeking the world’s power, domination over others, and flashy recognition is exactly the opposite of what God calls us to.  We see the evil succeed in their wicked schemes, the right hand work ignored, even criticized as just not a worthwhile investment of time and energy…as it really “gets us no where.”

It was once said to me that it did not matter what I did as a nurse practitioner in the quiet corners of my patients’ rooms.  Rather, it mattered what I did with “smoke and mirrors”.  It inspired this post on my “Mom Blog” : Quiet Corners. It also ultimately led me here.

What matters to the world is exactly opposite of what the Lord calls us to.

It is so hard to exist in this neon light shouting, success measuring, ladder climbing world a way that the right hand work is enough.  Enough to change dirty diapers all day long, not even pausing to scrub the grit and grime from your own being. Enough to wash, fold, sort and put away five loads of laundry as the only thing accomplished in an entire day.  Enough to tenderly explain the gospel to your 4-year-old as you both lay down for that nap that you need more than he does. Enough to rise early in quiet prayer for your spouse who has deep dark secrets that no other knows.  Enough to kneel on a dirty hospital floor and grasp the hand of the mother whose child is dying and pray. Enough to answer a request of a perfect stranger posted on social media, stuck in a local hospital due to a terminal illness, who wants a certain taco meal, a meal that might be his last.  Enough to notice the struggling mother with her screaming toddler and quietly pay for her meal without her ever knowing.  All of these “enoughs”… done with a heart for the Lord in the midst of each seemingly menial task…

There is so much right hand work all around. Work that no one else sees. Work that the Lord is calling us to.  Work that is enough, simply because it is the Lord’s work. I will attempt in this space to talk about that work, work that I have seen and been a part of.  I hope to encourage men and women that the quiet work is really the work that matters. Being meek and mild is counter cultural.  It is not going to get you the position of the CEO of a major corporation, unless that corporation also acknowledges and measures success in the work of the Lord.

I am a nurse practitioner, a position of an interesting blend between a nurse and a physician, a position not especially highly regarded by either job title I identify with.  A position with certain meekness required, compassion laden, humility accepted and often forced. I have seen the hierarchy of medicine play out in such disappointing ways. I have seen it crush those without certain letters behind their names or publications under their belts. I have also seen children die and have journeyed through the dying process with their families.  I have also witnessed the resurrection power of Christ as His healing is the only way to describe those “180 degree turn arounds” that even the skeptics and intellects call “miracles”.

I am also a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, aunt, cousin, niece.  Right hand work is a part of every name I claim.

I have been married for almost 14 years with ups and downs and all arounds.  I have friends who have also been married at least that many years and have weathered more marital storms than I.  I have seen the posture of humility and surrender in enduring the hard crucibles that life on this earth forces on those heavenly covenants.

I have 10 years of mothering under my belt.  Mothering has pruned me in ways I never imagined possible.  That pruning is worth every ripe piece of delectable fruit it produces…fruit that is often only tasted and visible in the walls of my home and in the eyes of my Father.

I have many people who claim me as daughter (or in law), one of whom I watched slip from this earth to his heavenly home.  That event forever imprinted in my heart and mind, as the presence of the God I serve was so near I feel I could smell His sweet aroma.

I am a sister and friend, both at the same time as to me these are often interchangeable words.  I have visited those closest to me in dark hospital rooms, called to the bedside by concerned family members in the wee night hours, to interpret medical jargon, to be present, to allow Jesus to use me as his hands and feet in times of deep deep fear and uncertainty.  I have seen His earth miracles without a doubt – and have been reminded that sometimes the miracles we see are the response of His people in an unexpected circumstance.

I have seen a lot in both my career and in life that have stripped me. Stripped me in so many ways.  I hope to share this stripping in a way that is encouraging and empowering to others.  I believe this is my own journey to healing and have great hope it will also heal others.

Let me remind you how Jesus entered this world…as an infant, described as meek and mild…and think about this…though power is described as the opposite worldly value to meekness…think about the type of power that Jesus Christ has…the power to be raised from the dead.  There is no power greater than resurrection power, the type of power offered to us in our right hand work.

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