Unexpected lessons from a colonoscopy center

We all hope that each summer job we have will be something to proudly display on our resumes. Sometimes, however, you have one that doesn’t exactly do that.

Last summer, I worked one of those jobs: a colonoscopy outpatient center.

While not my first choice of employment, it was one of the only options I had to work full-time, not work weekends, and be paid enough to hopefully survive the coming school year.

So, I scrubbed up and went in.

The daily grind

If there is one word to describe my job as a Nursing Assistant, it would be “routine.” Everything I did, I did for eight hours a day. Over and over again.

There were three different sections I could be assigned. One was pre-opt, which was fetching patients from the waiting room, explaining to them how to put the gowns on, and making sure all the nurses in pre-opt had IVs, stretchers, and clipboards prepped for them to receive patients. The next section was PACU, or recovery. As the patients woke up and readied to leave the center, I would take their stretcher, strip it, clean it, and prepare it with new sheets for the next patient. The outpatient center I worked at was the third busiest in the country, which meant we received anywhere from 80 to 100 patients on an average day. So, that was about 80 to 100 beds I had to clean daily. The last section was Stage 2. This was where patients came out of recovery to change or to sit and wait for the doctor to go over their findings. This was my favorite assignment. The patients in Stage 2 were the most positive – partially because they were happy it was over and partially because the anesthesia hadn’t fully worn off. You also get to tell them they can now eat which, after two days of fasting, makes you their favorite person in the world.

As a psychology major, there was very little I thought I would glean from this experience. I figured I would make some money, and then just forget about the experience. While professionally it may have had only a little benefit, spiritually, however, the Lord taught me a lot amidst all the potty jokes (and there were a LOT of potty jokes).

First Lesson: Prayer

Cleaning stretchers turned into a catalyst for prayer. The spring before I entered into this job, I read a book called A Year of Living Prayerfully by Jared Brock, about a man who went on a modern day prayer pilgrimage. One of the topics Brock discussed frequently was how monks many times had work to do that was a bit monotonous, like basket weaving or setting tiles. While they did this work, they would pray, normally a liturgical prayer such as the Jesus prayer. When Brock questioned them if the prayer felt genuine, they said it didn’t always at first, but the more they prayed it, the more it was ingrained into their soul and they felt its truth. Brock focused on the Jesus prayer for this section and added a stanza of his own: “Lord Jesus Christ, have favor on me, a son.”

I decided if it’s good enough for monks, it’s good enough for me. So, I started praying the Jesus prayer over and over as I cleaned eight dozen stretchers.

“Lord Jesus Christ.” I stripped the bed. “Have Mercy on me.” I wiped down the rails. “A sinner.” I cleaned the mattress. “Lord Jesus Christ.” I placed the pillow. “Have favor on me.” I pushed the stretcher against the wall. “A son.”

Through praying this, I saw my work as a place, a catalyst for prayer – a place I could honor the Father through my work and my voice.

Second Lesson: Diligence

Overall, I did not enjoy the work I did. The days were long, and I ended each day exhausted. My legs and feet ached from moving all day. I ended up with jumper’s knee from moving the stretchers around so much.

But I still tried to work my hardest and with a spirit of excellence. Daniel 6 talks about Daniel’s style of work, how he worked so well that his enemies could find no fault in him and could only see the Lord. While there were many days that I would much rather have just taken the lazy route and done the bare minimum, I remembered Daniel and strove to work like him.

And guess what: people saw the Lord.

Our lives are a testimony. Everything we do should reflect Jesus, especially our work. People noticed that the way I worked was different. When they would mention it, I pointed to Christ and the example He set Himself as well as through those who served him. Working with diligence became a testimony of salvation.

Third Lesson: Light

On my last day working, one of the nurses, a fellow Christian at the center, gave me a card. She said that she had seen the light of Christ in me and was thankful for the reminder that we are meant to shine in dark places. This hit me so hard, but not because I felt like I was spiritually well.

I had felt spiritually dry all summer.

While the above may look like I was very spiritual during this job, the reality is that I was barely reading my Bible. As I left for work before dawn, I chose to value sleep over Scripture and had felt the emptiness of that decision. I did not have a lot of Christian community around me either, so I lacked in fellowship and discipleship as well.

Despite all of this, the light of Christ was still shining in me. Christ is so much bigger than my own dryness. He doesn’t require me to be at my spiritual peak to use me on His mission field. He was present in that colonoscopy center.

How much more could He have shined if I sought Him? If I had made space in my day for Jesus, what more could’ve happened?

I will never know the “what ifs,” but what I do know is that when seeking after Him, He can work wonders I could never imagine.

So if you have worked a summer job that may not have been the greatest, or a job that was even comical, look for where the Lord worked because He did. See what more can come from your work than just a few extra bucks. While your job may not be as crappy as mine (pun FULLY intended), know that even the hardest labor will bear fruit in the end.

Danielle Crowley is a staff writer for the Daily Runner.