On Prayer, Gumption, and Gratitude

Note: To offer more insight into the lives of nursing students, we are sending Steven, a writer for the College of Nursing, to the weekly Nursing Stress Management Course. Steven is a Middle East Studies/Arabic major.

Shortly after I entered class, Assistant teaching professor Dr. Leslie Miles was beginning to tell a story from one of the times she took nursing students to study in Finland. We all were busting a gut (or LOLing, in the terminology of my fellow millennials), but the story ended up laying the foundation for the rest of the class.

Basically, she and her students were struggling to get around during Finland’s equivalent of 4th of July. Both the public areas and the tram they managed to get on were crowded with rowdy, inebriated Finns who were making life, shall we say, interesting for the students. To make matters worse, the tram stopped far from their desired destination and the conductor, who didn’t speak English, wanted them to get off.

Through a combination of prayer and gumption, Miles somehow managed to convey to the driver that they needed to go to their hospice. Under no requirement to do so, he left his assigned route and graciously drove them through the city to their hospice, ignoring angry people waiting to board at other stations. It was nothing short of miraculous.

The off-the-cuff tale was followed by the usual review of our week and our stress levels. The topic of our discussion was to be gratitude. I wondered if this would be like one of many Sunday School lessons I had heard on the topic. However, Sunday School lessons usually don’t start with a Ted Talk.

In it, a little girl and an old man give their perspectives on life. The little girl matter-of-factly acknowledges how much adventure lies outside her home, while the older gentleman says that each of us should live each day as if it were our first and our last. This was an interesting thought, since frequently, life tends to get in the way of us stopping to smell the roses or enjoying a fresh Cougar Tail.

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Students discuss their stress levels.

Miles poignantly asked the students if they had lost their imagination since entering nursing school. There were chuckles, but everyone was wondering the same thing: had they?

Miles discussed how oftentimes it is hard to be grateful in stressful situations. These situations test us and push us to the limit, which makes finding things to be grateful for even more important. Calmness can come, she assured us.

Then she weaved in her earlier story—the reason that she had been calm on that tram in Finland, she said, was because “I knew that I would be guided to what I had to do.” That trust in God had allowed her to protect the students and get home safely.

With that, we were assigned to make lists of things for which we were grateful. The lists were not to be just the typical answers like life and the Gospel, but more specific ideas. Some that came to me included not having to use Roman numerals and the fact that I have shoelaces (and shoes, on top of that). As we discussed our simple responses, we realized just how much good we have in our lives.

The best part, Miles said, was that if we made it a habit to do this kind of exercise, we would be not only be more relaxed, but we would have more to talk about with Heavenly Father at the end of the day.

This class may not have had as much interactive activities like the last few times, but it did manage to open my mind more on the topic of gratitude. I could not help but think of President Hinckley, who said, “Be believing. Be happy. Don’t get discouraged. Things will work out.” How true indeed.

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