The summer I turned 21, I started a job as a park ranger, and one of the first classes I took during training was a CPR course. A few weeks later another ranger and I were called to the scene of a drowning. We pulled a girl out of the water and began CPR. Amazingly, she began to breathe on her own. After helping a sixteen-year-old who was apparently dead come back to life, I was hooked on becoming a paramedic.
When I became a paramedic, however, questions came up about my belief in God. I felt as if the judgmental, harsh God I knew as a youth in church was passing judgment on me. Whenever I was unable to save a life, I thought it was my fault. After a while, I reached a point where I wondered if I could continue in this profession.
It was a cold, snowy January day in Hutchinson, Kansas, when my unit was called to help a woman who had slipped and fallen on her porch. It was a dreadful scene. The woman, who was in her eighties, had lain on her porch for about three hours before anyone noticed her.
When we paramedics got there, she was actually frozen to the porch floor. The police officer who had covered her up told us, “She’s already dead.” I put a monitor on her and found that she still had a heartbeat, although her heart rate was only 20 beats a minute. The rate should have been between 60 and 80.
While rushing her to the emergency room, we performed manual respiration on her, using a handheld squeeze bag. Once there, we slowly eased her into a bathtub of water to bring her body temperature back to normal. I was elated when she stirred and started breathing on her own.
However, on my very next call, I was devastated by what I faced. Earlier that night, two young parents had left their baby with a babysitter for the very first time. When they came home at midnight, their beautiful, perfect baby was dead. I felt I had lost that baby when I failed at resuscitating her. At that moment, I knew in my heart that I couldn’t go on being a paramedic.
Over the course of the next few years, I attempted to change the direction of my career as I completed a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s in business. Still I was drawn back to helping people in crisis and became the manager of an emergency room.
Fruits of a Spiritual Journey
During this same time, I began a spiritual journey that led me to my Native American roots. This is where I put aside my belief in a judgmental God and accepted a God of love. I experienced what it was to be loved unconditionally by my Creator, just as I am. I learned to listen to that still small voice within and felt the oneness of creation.
I could not go back to the church of my youth, but I was searching for one that taught about a loving God and the oneness of all. I found this at the Unity of Wichita.
At Unity I was introduced to Daily Word, and it became my daily spiritual resource. I had become the administrator of a large cardiology group and was responsible for 6 locations and 13 outreach clinics. After stressful meetings in the morning where doctors would get into disagreements, I would go back to my desk and read the Daily Word message for that day. Each life-affirming, inspiring message was perfect for me. I started e-mailing messages to some of the people in our group. Then others asked me, “What’s the word for the day?” and “May I have a copy of it?”
I saw that all of us who were reading Daily Word were letting our inner spiritual nature—the Christ spirit within—shine more brightly and become a part of how we treated one another and those we served. I realized the life-saving care we gave was important, but that the spiritual care we gave was even more important.
Connecting With the Christ Within
As a paramedic, I would sit by patients, talk to them, and hold their hands, establishing a heart-to-heart relationship. I didn’t know it then, but what I was doing was connecting the Christ in me with the Christ in them. I tried to be the best Christ that I could be and treat people accordingly. I believe this made a difference in the quality of their care and their recovery.
Later, as a manager, I understood that when I treated my employees with compassion and caring, that’s how they would treat their patients. I reminded the doctors, “If you want your patients to have top-notch treatment, then you need to treat your employees that way.”
The more we read Daily Word, the less sickness, anger, and turmoil appeared in our group. As more and more people in our group related to one another and the patients from a Christ consciousness, the practice changed.
My compelling desire to be of service to others has lead me to enroll in ministerial school to become a Unity minister. As a Unity minister, I want to share the truth about each and every one of us: We are free to be the Christ in expression toward others in our homes and our places of work. Living from the Christ love within our hearts, we are loving and caring toward others. We are one family of God, each one being loved unconditionally.