Nursing and my new religion

Annelies van Haastrecht, community nurse, Voorschoten, the Netherlands

I started nursing at a young age, 17 years old. And if you asked me at that time why I had chosen nursing as a profession I would not have been sure what to answer. It would definitely not have been the answer I would give today. Today I say I have chosen to become a nurse because I love people and I love to care for and nurture them, to give them an insight into how it is to truly be caring and loving for oneself.

I left the healthcare system ten years after I started, without any appreciation for myself, burnt out, not coping with the pressure and the huge demands of the system. I did my utmost to fit in, to please others, unaware of who I truly was and this resulted in me becoming the tough nurse, hardened, in whom everything and everyone else came first. I thought myself and saw around me that this was what nursing was about, but I felt I would never be enough, that I had failed, I had given myself away completely and I gave up… and withdrew from my profession.

I closed this door and was convinced I would never go back, but over the last few years how I live, the way I feel about myself, my life and work has changed and for 5 years now I am back in the healthcare system with demands that are probably even higher and I simply love my job. How come I am enjoying my job so much and feel that the pressure and the high demands are not getting to me as they did back then? At the age of 56 years when a lot of people decide to work less hours, I am choosing to work more hours than I have for a long time.

What is my secret of working and enjoying myself in a stressful job and feeling very well?

Well, it is no secret at all. It is true religion that’s back in my life. Not a religion in the way of the traditional religions, but religion in the true meaning of the word. A religion that lives within you and in the relationship with yourself first before anything or anyone else. A religion that unites people as we are all the same and asks us to take care of our bodies, to truly nurture ourselves. A way of life.

I am connected to God, not as a trust but a knowing in my body, a quality that is inside me.

I have built a relationship with myself, a loving relationship that is forever deepening. Without relying only on the outside world any more, but on my body and inner-heart. I appreciate the quality of stillness I bring to my life and thus to the patients I care for. The love I feel inside is what is coming out and this is true religion, me living me. The way I care for and nurture myself is the way I care and nurture for patients. That was not there from the first moment; it has been and still is a process, from living what the outside world wants me to live, to living the connection with the love I am from inside, step by step every day. I make mistakes, take a step back, but choose to come back again and again.

Love is patient and will never give up. And so I can say I am religious; no church, no temple other than my own body, my own heart. I take all of me to my job, to my colleagues and the patients I love and care for.

Read more:

  1. From exhaustion and feeling false to feeling vital and truly looking after myself. 
  2. Nursing, me and Serge Benhayon 


605 thoughts on “Nursing and my new religion

  1. “And so I can say I am religious; no church, no temple other than my own body, my own heart.” A beautiful claiming here. This is all we need, and every single person on the planet has access to this.

  2. What you share here really challenges the way we define our job. It is very beautiful to feel how for you it is a building of relationship with yourself first, then you would have a foundation from which you offer yourself through a form of service/profession – so the ‘all of you’ could be communicated and shared with everyone whatever the job you might do. Amazing.

  3. ‘I am connected to God, not as a trust but a knowing in my body, a quality that is inside me.’ Six weeks ago I fractured my wrist and what I felt was that this time with my wrist in plaster and the recoverytime afterwards is asking me to surrender even more to my body and the connection with God, to deepen and to make the knowing in my body a quality I live without reservation where ever I go.

  4. True religion indeed – a beautiful relationship with the body that honours it and responds to what religion is – from within, confirmed without.

    1. I love this – what a beautiful description of this true religion that is available to every single person on the planet, that has no indoctrination or imposition in it what so ever. All that is needed is a willingness and openness to reconnect to who we are.

  5. I love what you say, that you are religious with no church, and only your body as your temple. It is a breath of fresh air to know that religion is within.

  6. If we stay in the blaming game we get stuck in a trap that neither fulfills nor allows us to move forward in life.

  7. Beautiful to hear such a turnaround – which goes to show me that its not about blaming the systems and managers that we work in and for, but that how we bring ourselves to a situation is where the true gold is.

  8. When I gave birth to my daughter I felt the intensity and pressure on nurses and the medical staff, it is a job with very high demands and I felt the lack of joy, the exhaustion and irritability of the staff. It would feel very different to give birth to a baby in a ward with staff who were first and foremost encouraged to care for themselves and then from this place care for their patients, it would change the feeling on wards completely and what a different start for new born babies.

  9. I have seen many nurses start their career because they have a love of caring for people, yet they don’t care for themselves, and they often get injured or exhausted without realising that self-care is a fundamental part of caring for others, we have to be able to care for ourselves first before we can care for others.

  10. We need nurses like you Annelies because when we are ill we need people who can see the bigger picture as well as attend to the smaller details.

  11. I can feel the exquisite foundation that you take with you to all that you do Annelies and I am sure that all who you connect with at work, either patients or staff, can feel this too as you build relationships based on love with them all. This to me is true religion in action.

  12. Religion is really our relationship to all, starting with to ourself and to God, to people, animals and the world itself. Religion is so honouring of the equal-ness between us, of the Love of Divinity which is without need or self-interested greediness, of the universal intelligence that we all partake in. And so it goes that all of our jobs and careers is based on religion first, people first, relationship first.

  13. True religion reconnects us back to the inner spark that lives deep within us and reignites the warmth of our love to be shared with all. When we truly nurture this flame, we are able to support another to truly nurture the one and same flame of love that lives within them, to also burn bright and true.

  14. There is so very much that is said here and for all of us to ponder on and that is how do we care for ourselves and if we do not truly care and look after ourselves then inevitably burnout or illness and diseases show. This is the second blog I have read regarding a nurse who gave up her job because she was so ill and then returned to it later with more love for the job than every before because she had more love for herself than ever before and how this impacted her health. Nurses do such an amazing job it is so lovely to hear how you re-imprinted this for yourself. A true inspiration for many others. Maybe this could be posted in a nursing journal somewhere or on a website specifically for nurses I am sure what you have shared here is something that would be welcomed and could start a much needed discussion.

  15. I so love this Annelies, Being in the profession myself I have watched so many people burn out and lose themselves. What you have found is priceless in that you have reconnected to your inner heart and wow are patients blessed to have a nurse who knows herself and in the same breath knows God.

  16. Thank you for sharing Annelies; I would say that there is a lot of people like yourself that started out caring for others but without a high degree of self-care could not withstand the pressure of working in a system with no love. Giving up exhausted is very very common; we see it in almost all work places. What religion offers true and loving support that realigns one to god within, to a way of life that maintains that connection so that love can be lived in a loveless world? To feel and see the hurt and abuse that is all around and not be affected by it. To know we have a purpose in life and that is to bring such connection and love to our fellow humans they can feel the love in amongst the hurts and that love can be lived. We all know this religion deep in our hearts as we know it belongs to us all.

  17. It is almost unheard of Annelies, that in your mid fifties, not only are you are choosing to work longer hours but you are loving it! This is definitely something that needs to be shared and celebrated with our younger generations.

  18. In a profession in which many are undervalued and under appreciated yet are in many ways the back bone of society, you are truly a leading light and inspiration Annelies.

  19. How long can a person who cares deeply about others and loves people is willing to remain working in a system like the nursing one that does not care for them? There are some systems like this that know how to discourage people offering their best to others

  20. Burnout for health care workers is high in the health care system simply because carers put the care of others before themselves and often at the expense of themselves.

  21. I see this particularly in politics, people start out with such great intentions but get worn down by the system and lose it. Building a strong foundation in your body and in the way you live supports you in staying true to yourself and it is inspiring to see how you have done that and brought a greater quality to your profession.

  22. For too long have we been running around trying to control and manage life without taking care of our foundations. We would never attempt a car race without making sure the engine is running on all cylinders, everything is finely tuned, that we are prepared in every way. A true religion inspires us to constantly live with an awareness and connection that naturally has us be and express all that we are.

  23. It is our being-ness and not our doing-ness that inspires another to heal. That is, it is the reflection of our lived way that reaches another in the same way the stars light up the night sky when we live in deep connection with the our true self and the stupendous All we are a part of. This is true religion – a return to our former/future glory.

  24. I love that you have chosen to live in a way that is caring and nurturing so you then can show by the way you are with yourself how life can be lived.

  25. Nursing is all about connection and God is all about connection therefore nursing from our connection with God/divinity is what true nursing is all about.

  26. I noticed how many young people start their career with a deep feeling of love and purpose for people but that this often gets more to the background as the years go by and the reality of the world and the system we have to work in does not reflect back our original feeling to serve with love. It is beautiful how you shared you came back to this and how this is very possible to live in the busy healthcare sector you are working in and how this knowing of what our purpose is can be the medicine to not go into overwhelm or burn out as so many are now but actually love to work and truly feel vital.

    1. Beautiful Lieke, the medicine to not go in overwhelm or burn out is the knowing of what our purpose is. This is what brings in quality otherwise we lose ourselves in the high demands that are in the workplace today. Not only in the health system but in a lot of work areas in our society.

    2. It must be so common for nurses to burn out for nothing in their training teaches them how to not do so. How many nurses drop out of the profession each year? The uncaring system cares not and simply hires more new ones to be deployed like cannon fodder on the front lines of the health system, until they too cannot cope. What kind of health care system doesn’t care for the wellbeing of its no 1 carers, It doesn’t make sense.

      1. Yes and this reminds me of how we as a society tend to deal with things: coming up with solutions (hiring new people) but not really questioning the system that created the situation of many people getting burned out. What would it be like if we would stop and question the system even when one person gets burt out by it? That would be super loving and caring to do.

      2. Well said Lieke, yes surely the measure of any health care system should be how it cares for its staff for if it cannot get that right what chance for the patients?

    3. Yes it is beautiful to share that there is a way to be in such an uncaring system and by caring for yourself you can thrive, but sad that the vast majority have no knowledge of how to self care or the importance of it.

  27. I love this line ‘The way I care for and nurture myself is the way I care and nurture for patients’ as this then ensures the quality of the care offered and ensures that you don’t become exhausted or burnt out.

  28. “The love I feel inside is what is coming out and this is true religion, me living me.”

    These are such beautiful and inspiring words, as in the whole blog, for it reminds us that when we live from the inside-out we are not at the whim of all that enters when we live from the outside-in.

  29. The nursing industry is in desperate need of people who do not fall victim to the stresses of the job and find themselves unable to offer the necessary care that is required… let alone the true care that is possible when one truly cares for themselves before anyone else and can then offer that fullness and depth of care to another. You are indeed a much needed reflection of what is possible in an industry where true care is a truly a rarity.

  30. Annelies, reading this I feel that you could have a future in nursing nurses back to vitality by sharing your amazing story. This is just not normal, nurses are burning out all the time but how many can say they have come back to the profession and now love what they do.

  31. Wow Annelies, this is so amazing to be in a profession like nursing deeply caring for you and your patients without compromising yourself; this is huge and shows that when we deeply embrace ourselves, and live us we can be in environments which are stressful without taking that on, and this is so important, because we need people in there living this and showing others that they too can do so.

  32. What can I say besides, you’re awesome! This is not the norm, can you imagine if all nurses at your age had this passion and zest for their job and life? Wow, we need more of what The Way of The Livingness has to offer considering the results all around the world, in many different fields seem to be outside of the “norm” in the best way possible.

  33. I love the way that you have connected nursing and religion in this way Annelies – not a nurse who goes around converting her patients to antibiotics and church-going, but one who carries the love of God in her heart and brings that healing light and love so needed in a hospital. All benefit, not only the patients but the staff at every level – cleaners, chefs, admin staff, maintenance workers. Deeply beautiful.

  34. ‘I have built a relationship with myself, a loving relationship that is forever deepening. Without relying only on the outside world any more, but on my body and inner-heart.’ and wonderful to take your joy and vitality to your work everyday for all to benefit from.

  35. Reading through some of the comments I became aware that yes, I appreciate how I work but that there is so much more to appreciate about the quality I bring, I am not yet taking this to the depth I know there to be, so thank you all for your comments, it supports me to value more what the quality I bring to nursing.

  36. If things are not working , we intend to shift job or partner etc. But many times that is not the true change of what it is needed- it is to bring a different quality in the situation like you did Annelies.

  37. Dear Annelies, this blog reminds me of my true religion too, equally expressing myself in nursing at the moment. Understanding more about myself and life since I came to the one-unified truth in my heart after re-connecting to myself with the support of the teachings of Universal Medicine. Found my way in my heart, which I express from every day, and more and more, which naturally changed and changes and is enchanting my life. Simply the love of God in my heart – no pictures, no beliefs – simply from there I nurse with my heart.

  38. “Well, it is no secret at all. It is true religion that’s back in my life.” Annelies, I love and am deeply inspired by your fabulous, matter-of-fact, unapologetic claiming of Religion. Awesome 😍

  39. If you look around in most healthcare situations, you will see nurses who have toughened up to cope with the demands of the job and putting everyone else’s needs first. It’s no wonder nurses burnout. It’s great that there are nurses who have found a way to not work like this, and have been re-inspired in their passion for nursing.

  40. I love here Annelies how you bring medicine and religion together as one and in this you really define the true meaning of religion – to reconnect to a quality of truth and love inside us all and live that to the best of our ability with others.

  41. This settlement is the quality that is brought to everyone in this line of work. This sharing is so inspiring for many others in other professions.

  42. When we live the cardio-centric way of life, our body is in fact the only church we will ever have. No stone edifice for special occasions needed, it is one continuum in all its wondrous imperfections.

  43. I would like to say that in the time I have known you Annelies I have felt your heart continually opening and at the same time your steadiness and gentle authority and presence growing. I say it this way because I feel sure that this is an ongoing process and that the beauty that you are will be more and more felt as time goes by. I so appreciate all that you are and feel honoured to be in contact with you, loving sharing all that we do.

    1. Thank you Elaine and yes I feel how much I have changed and have been growing but also how much more there is to come when we keep saying yes. What we can bring as elderly women to our workplace friends and family is of such a great value and we should not hold back on this ever growing love we live each day.

  44. I reckon that my understanding of how the quality of my relationship with myself and taking care,underpins my relationship with life and others, is going to go on developing forever.

  45. It is beautiful to feel the deep settlement within you and how enriching your life is through your connection to you, your stillness, your essence. A quality that is available for us all to connect to which delivers a sense of true fulfillment, knowing and feeling in our bodies that who we are is already everything, and so there is nowhere else to be. Our connection to our body and being is a relationship whereby our Soulfulnes can be lived bringing to life the much needed quality of love.

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