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Guest editorial: are interruptions a gift?

The definition of the word interruption is "To break the continuity or uniformity of, or to hinder or stop the action by breaking in on." Interruptions are, by many of us, considered a bother. Interruptions challenge our misconception that we are in control of our time.

Henri Nouwen, author of Out of Solitude, wrote about a now famous conversation which helped him think about an interruption as something other than an aggravation. He writes, "While visiting the University of Notre Dame, where I had been a teacher for a few years, I met an older experienced professor who had spent most of his life there. And while we strolled over the campus, he said with a certain melancholy in his voice, "You know ... my whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I discovered that my interruptions were my work."

Each of us is interrupted every day by what others, such as family, co-workers or church members, feel should be our priorities. Does God have a hand in this? How many times was Jesus interrupted? How did he decide which interruptions to embrace? Jairus thought that Jesus was wasting time when he made the decision to stop for the perpetually unclean hemorrhaging woman, while his child was dying. The woman, an outcast, was restored to health and to a life of faithfulness because Jesus was willing to be interrupted.

Parish Nurses have a similar passion as that of Jesus when they are approached with interruptions. Give your agenda, your heart and your time (with all of the interruptions) to God. Let God tell you how to respond. Realign priorities, because having too many irons in the fire means none of them get adequate attention. Parish Nurses need self care and sometimes those interruptions are not just that of caring for others and performing as a parish nurse. Exhaustion, burnout and depression are perhaps not signs that you are doing God's will. An interruption from God, shows his love for us and how he has a customized plan for the lives of those who serve. Life is about finding a personal purpose and meaning as well as compassion for those in need. Proverbs 16:9 "In his heart a man (parish nurse) plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."

Parish Nurses have a tremendous opportunity to make a difference in today's world! So the next time you are interrupted remember, INTERRUPTIONS are GIFTS that you have been privileged to receive!


Sherry McIntyre

Irma was my interruption during a worship service when she stopped breathing. And my gift was that I was able to revive her with CPR and she lived another 5 years.

By Sherry McIntyre, RN, BSA, Parish Nurse

Amity United Methodist Church

Coordinator, Parish Nursing/RN Health Ministries

Community Health Network, Indianapolis

Chairperson, Indiana United Methodist Conference

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Author:McIntyre, Sherry
Publication:Parish Nurse Perspectives
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jun 22, 2011
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