Assessments in General; Inspection in Particular

My fingers have an urge to write but my heart wants to shut down.  So forgive me if this doesn’t flow very well.  I have no idea as to what is going to come out but I’m just letting my fingers on their own.  Rest assured I will attempt to engage my mind as well.

We’ve been focusing on head to toe assessments in nursing school for the last multiple weeks.  And we’ve been poking and prodding our patients in a very intrusive, bumbling sort of way.  So far the patients have all been very kind about the fact that they are the newbies’ guinea pigs.  I still feel bad for them though because who feels like having slow and tedious assessments done when probably a dozen medical staff have already assessed you in the last 12 hours.

All that aside, doing all this studying on physical assessments has had me thinking a lot about spiritual assessments.

There are four main aspects to an assessment of your patient:  inspection, auscultation, percussion, palpation.  We’ll take a look at inspection in this post.

Inspection:  With inspection you’re on the look-out for scars, pressure ulcers, swelling, discoloring, asymmetry, and just the general condition of the patient.  Initial inspection upon walking into the room can tell us a lot about the patient but it doesn’t disclose the deeper conditions present.  That is why with each step of the assessment we get a little more intrusive. Close up inspection often gives away the presence of something internal.  And so it is with spiritual inspection.

We think we can successfully gussy up our outsides so that on initial inspection we look as though our hearts are in excellent condition before God.  But upon closer inspection, our veneer will eventually crack and the tell-tale signs of inner struggles will tip others off.  We humans are proud fools.  We don’t usually stop at just trying to fool others – we try our hardest to cover up and fool God.  People may pick up on the outward anomalies but they may not be able to put their finger on it right away, however, God is like the X-ray machine – He sees right through you at first glance.

Do I allow others to see my scars, my wounds, my pressures, my swelling, my discoloring, and my asymmetry?  If the answer is no – why?  Why do we as Christians fear to let our insecurities, our doubts, our spiritual deformities show?  People who admit their doubts and spiritual deformities and share the story behind their scars are far more effective in God’s kingdom than are those who act like they aren’t the wounded souls that all humankind essentially is.  Scars are not shameful.  If you, like me, struggle to believe that your wounds and scars are not something to be ashamed of, take a look at Jesus.  If He would be ashamed of His scars and wouldn’t have revealed them to us, for me the reality of what He went through would have less impact on my soul.  Those scars are testimony of His love for us – the unfathomable love that drove Him to suffer the worst imaginable horrors of suffering.  Same with us, I think that the more we are willing to bare our scarred souls and wounded hearts to others the greater the impact of God’s redeeming grace on the souls we are trying to reach.  So drop the mask of mastery in life and allow the wounded glory of your God-touched soul to shine the Gospel’s healing Light on those you meet along the way.

So far I’ve just been focusing on what we ourselves appear like upon others’ inspection of our lives.  But what about our inspection of others?  I guess my biggest question is…Do we inspect others through the eyes of Jesus?  Or do we inspect them with a harsh eye of judgment?  Do we allow the longing ache in others’ eyes to register in our hearts?  Or do we, in our selfish, hasty pursuits of life, quick glance away from their hurt, their empty looks and think to ourselves “if only those hurting souls could get help”?  What about the friend who says she’s fine but you see the contradiction in her eyes? (Let’s face it – we women are excellent cover-uppers.  Somehow we’ve imposed upon ourselves the need to be strong at all costs and bear the weight of the world on our shoulders alone.)  Do you glibly promise prayers for her and then fail to take time to hound the throne of heaven on her behalf?  Do you take the time to follow up with those who share their hearts with you?  Does your worldview consist of only you and the immediate circle of close friends in which you move?  Or do you see the loner on the street, in the coffee shop, in line behind you at the grocery store, sitting next to you in school, or how about the person next to you in the pew on Sunday?

I guess what I’m aiming for is this: humans naturally try to appear like they have it together because they fear the scorn of others.  In truth though, more often than not, we are struggling bravely in the throes of our wicked hearts’ battles and are secretly wishing that someone would see through our thin facade and hear our silent, desperate cries.

I’m challenging myself to learn the art of inspecting with the eyes of Jesus and recognizing the emotional scars and wounds of others without quickly averting my gaze so I don’t have to become personally involved.  The world around me is a kaleidoscope of hurts, fears, insecurities, disappointments, sorrow, loneliness, rejection, and desperation.  My job is to be on the look-out for opportunities to allow God to use my battered being to reach out to those souls with His hand of compassion and hope.