Throughout the past few semesters, underclassman nursing majors have asked me for tips on nursing school. The truth is, most of the time I have had no idea what to tell them. I've always felt I was still learning how to live life as a student just like anyone else. The past few weeks, however, I realized I’ve nearly reached the end. Looking back, nursing school isn't something I simply survived. It’s been an adventure – with mountaintop days and days I wanted to give up the climb.
It’s been a journey. Just like the rest of life.
As these five demanding semesters come to a close, maybe I do have wisdom to share with those beginning nursing school. Like...use Kaplan. Keep friends who aren’t nursing majors. Don’t quit just because it’s hard. Don't take school too seriously. Don't take friendships too lightly. But perhaps the most helpful thing I could say is this:
Take a Sabbath.
When I was a freshman, I began praying about what observing the Sabbath looked like as a college student. (After all, it is one of the Ten Commandments. I think that means it’s at least semi-important to God.) I soon started taking a Sabbath from studying every weekend, from sundown Saturday to sundown Sunday - which allowed for a full day of rest as well as time to study the night before a weekly Monday quiz! I found taking this break every week was beyond refreshing.
Thankfully, it became a habit.
I say “thankfully” because the next semester marked the beginning of nursing school. Many Saturday evenings I struggled to put away notes for a test I was stressed about (we nursing majors excel at stressing). Yet because it was a habit already, it was easier to close out the powerpoints, shut my binder of notes and cap the highlighter. God never failed to honor this obedience of trusting Him and His command to keep the Sabbath.
So, I amend my advice: Take a Sabbath. And make it a habit.
The Sabbath has become precious time to me. It has demanded that I pause life and rest. Spiritually. Mentally. Emotionally. Physically. This rest is different from a study break because it is an entire day. Often it takes at least a couple hours to bring the momentum of my mind's rapid pace of thoughts to a halt, which barely happens (or doesn't at all) during a study break. Furthermore, we as a culture - especially college students, and of those especially nursing students - don't like to rest. We are all about productivity and efficiency. Keeping the Sabbath has given time to rest and, in a sense, has taught me how to rest.
And this process of learning how to stop working, worrying, and striving - this has brought incredible freedom.
Rest has ranged from afternoon naps to soccer games with friends. It has spanned semesters when I've been overly worried about grades and semesters when I've been under-worried about them and overwhelmed with social engagements.
Regardless of the type of rest it has been, every week the Sabbath has been a day that gives, while the remainder of the week has steadily taken.
During the past three years, I have realized this: taking Sabbaths is healthy. Although it may be inconvenient or seem unnecessary at times, God intended for us to rest. Not only does it help us refocus on the Lord, but it also provides an opportunity for us to step back from life, regroup, and operate more efficiently the rest of the week. On a practical level, it encourages balance and time management and discourages Sunday afternoon cramming.
Yet the most valuable part of Sabbaths, I have found, is the sweetness of knowing the Lord more through these times of rest.
To all my fellow nursing students, don't let nursing school daunt you. Taking Sabbaths is possible. It is freeing. It is worth it. It is an opportunity to come closer to the Lord.
I have tasted, and I have seen. The sweetness of knowing the Lord more through Sabbath-keeping is far sweeter than achieving A’s in the hardest courses. It is sweeter than making a dozen new friends. It is sweeter than the RN, BSN that prayerfully will follow my name in a few short weeks.
In this journey of nursing school, it’s been true. Just like in the rest of life.
The sweetness of knowing the Lord more is sweeter.