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 

 

653 thoughts on “Nursing and my new religion

  1. Annelies, I loved reading this, it kind of reminds me of the time I was so disillusioned by the health care system, that I would have done anything to take another career path, if the opportunity ever arose. I was part of the statistics of burnout and exhaustion that prevails in our system.

    Like you I had to turn it around, and I made it about me and not the system. Once I worked on the issues I was carrying from well before my career ever commenced and during the career the issues that developed, which sometimes were absolutely ridiculous, I had continued to carry for many years.

    I LOVE going to work, yes it is part time, but what I bring during the days I am present are worth a full time position. And sometimes I attend to some of my work during my days off too with no expectations either.

    So anyone can turn their work around, from being discontented to loving it, it is all about you and not the job.

  2. ‘I am connected to God, not as a trust but a knowing in my body, a quality that is inside me.’ When we know this wisdom inside us, anything is possible. We can be in service whatever we do, wherever we go.

    1. Gill, when we are so caught up in the nonsense, the wisdom is still with us, but masked by things that do not belong to us. When we are connected to our bodies, then the wisdom speaks and the service can truly begin and that service comes from within and not from the sake of doing it.

  3. “I am connected to God, not as a trust but a knowing in my body, a quality that is inside me” – this is a spine-shiver statement. This knowing puts us firmly in life, making every moment purpose-full and joy-full.

  4. ‘The way I care for and nurture myself is the way I care and nurture for patients.’ This is such a basic concept but a truly fundamental one because we can’t really care for others unless we care for ourselves first.

  5. I can feel the care coming through in this blog….a very real feeling of being connected to something deep within – it makes me connect to that in myself and appreciate the stillness that lies inside me also. Very beautiful, thank you Annelies van Haastrecht.

  6. “A religion that lives within you and in the relationship with yourself first before anything or anyone else.” This is so important and is the foundation from which we can build a life of true service.

  7. When one knows God from within and is committed to nurturing and deepening that connection, no belief is necessary – one just knows.

  8. As a 17 year old, you were connecting to the nurturing qualities that lay within you, Annelies and this is beautiful. The only thing is that in our world we are not encouraged to express this in a true sense and so we end up expressing it in a warped sense (one that puts others first and in a way that does not treat ourselves as equal in importance to all those around us). Hence why the depletion happened. But the blessing is that you have turned this around. Awesome work.

    1. It is wondrous and very rewarding when we get the opportunity to return to our former line of work and can do it completely different, from the inside out, with a solid foundation and without drive, push, self-disregard or depletion.

      1. I feel the same Gabriele and also with regards to relationships, to be able to change my approach there and let go of ideals, pictures, beliefs, etc, to loving me first and relating from that self love to others. Relationships of all kinds can feel like ‘hard work’ too because of the drive, push, and disregard of self. The self loving and self caring approach applies beautifully to every part of life.

  9. Gorgeous sharing Annelies, and what a beautiful space to be in in your life where you can appreciate yourself, your approach to work and love all that you do and hence be able to show others that this is indeed possible. The Church of your own inner heart…one we all have access to – what a blessing!

  10. ‘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.’ I love this approach to work and life – bringing stillness to all you do. This is beautiful.

  11. Hear hear Annelies to all you have said. ‘To nurse’ in its true meaning is to help nourish and nurture another by providing a level of care that sets a benchmark for how they look after themselves. I have lived a life of extreme disregard and self-abuse and it was only by the love and care I received from others, namely the students and practitioners of Universal Medicine, that I truly learnt how to look after myself. Coming back to this tenderness has not only been an incredible healing, it has been my deepest joy. We are all deserved of this warmth and beauty and so we must all work together to be able to provide this level of care for each other and for ourselves until every last drop of abuse is eradicated from this plane of life and we stand once more in the glory of who we are.

  12. Thank you Annelies for bringing back the awareness of our body being a temple, a temple that we take along every where we go.. I love that. This means that I should treasure my body as best as I can, in order to actually being able to deepen every day into more care and more nurturing. That is a purpose on its own.

    1. The other day I read something like this; when we don’t care for our body we basically are rejecting God, or say no to God. Still a way to go I must say in to let myself feel in full what it is to truly care for myself and my body in any given situation.

    2. What a great conversation! Seeing the body as a temple for the universe, for God, for all that we are equally a part of, completely changes the relationship we have to ourselves and our self care. The body is not just flesh and bone but a part of something much grander, and we become caretakers for that grandness.

  13. A great example that when we commit to looking after and deepening our relationship with ourselves and nurturing our body we live in a quality of rhythm and harmony that truly supports and evolves us all.

  14. Religion is a living quality that is clearly evident in our eyes, the quality of our voice, our movements and the warmth in our hearts. It is a still and easy manner that makes people feel instantly at home, welcomed, cared for and appreciated. What an immense gift to receive in your most vulnerable moments of illness and disease.

  15. Seeing a true purpose in what we do through our job, surrendering to the fact that there’s so much more taking place than meets the eyes, is so fulfilling,

  16. It is very rare to hear nurses speak of God in nursing but dealing with life and death situations all the time, I suspect there is a depth and philosophical approach to life for many nurses. Most would say they love and care for people. Perhaps when we are damaged by childhood impressions of religion, we do not equate love of people with God, but I now see they are one and the same when we see the divine in ourselves and others.

    1. Most of the times their love and care for people is more than love and care for themselves, just like I started with nursing and I am learning every day to live in the care and the love of God and reflect this to the best to my abilities.

  17. What is really super gorgeous is how this love that you now feel for yourself is what each person at your work will experience – your love.

  18. ‘I am connected to God, not as a trust but a knowing in my body, a quality that is inside me.’ Beautiful and through that quality we get stillness and when we take that quality to work we don’t get exhausted we just love what we do.

    1. True and we don’t react as much or take things personal, it is responding to what is needed at any time. And when I do react it is just coming back to my body and connect to the love inside me, the support that is always there.

  19. Bringing back the truth of the meaning of religion and taking it away from those institutions who have so bastardised the meaning of the word is key for mankind’s future.

  20. This is so true of so many youngsters starting out in their chosen career, they don’t really know themselves or love themselves so the chances of choosing a career that they will love is unlikely. Our whole education system needs pulling down and rebuilding on the foundation of the person i.e. the student being everything and not the exam results.

  21. When we learn to turn inward and start to be more gentle and nurturing with ourselves as a way of living we establish a connection and flow to a true quality that becomes our foundation.

  22. So many people try to cope with their job by working less hours or withdrawing, whereas the key is the quality we live and thus work in. Beautiful how you brought God and your religion back into your life and now your work and how this changes everything.

  23. It is beautiful to feel the effortlessness of what it is to live religiously. For whenever we live in connection to the love we are within, we live in connection to God as our Soulful light is the light of God no less. As such from this point of connection every move we make is a religious one, confirming the fact that being religious is our innate way of being.

    1. People aspire to be close to God in many ways, some through chanting, meditation, celibacy, strict and austere ways of living, prayer, study, etc, but if we ask ourselves ‘What is the nature of God?’, and we feel the answer as ‘Love” then simply living this love is our connection to God everyday, and it is our re-connection to all that we innately are also as part of God.

  24. Through deeply connecting with ourselves we find that we are connected to a far greater universal order and exquisite divinity that allows us to deeply reach others in the very simple gestures of everyday life.

  25. Knowing that I have “A religion that lives within you and in the relationship with yourself first before anything or anyone else” has totally turned my life around. It has given me a purpose for living in the most loving and appreciative way I possibly can and the magic that comes from making this choice is immeasurable

    1. When we feel religion this way we understand that everyone has this equal connection to God and to their innate divinity, there is no need for buildings, books, superiors or go-betweens, just the simplicity of the equal power we each hold and the free will to choose it or not.

  26. When we live our lives according to external pressures and attempting to fit into those, instead of feeling what our own natural rhythm is, our body soon lets us know that how we are living is not working for us. The body responds amazingly well to a few simple choices to really listen to it and honour what it’s telling us. Just as we create our own imbalances and dis-eases, so it must be in our hands to rebalance and bring our bodies back into harmony and alignment with their innate rhythms.

  27. “I am connected to God, not as a trust but a knowing in my body, a quality that is inside me.” I love the simplicity of this religion Anneliese. There is nothing for you to do other than simply be all of who you are.

  28. I love your religion ‘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.’ simple and true.

    1. Yes, it takes getting used to saying that you are religious as there are so many negative associations around the word.

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