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What Prayer Can Do: A Gentle Prompt

A nurse is given the task of caring for the teacher who tormented her daughter years earlier.

Helene Tutt
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It was nearly midnight. The halls of the hospital were quiet as I started on my nursing shift. I flipped through the dayshift report to see which of the patients I would be handling as the charge nurse that night.

When I got to one name on the list I froze. Mrs. C. Jackson. It had been years since I had heard her name, but I had never forgotten it.

Mrs. Jackson taught second grade in our small Texas town. To my shy, sensitive daughter, Dana, she was a tyrant. Dana had always been a timid little girl. In a group of strangers she could usually be found hiding behind my skirt. But Mrs. Jackson had no patience for shyness.

Often when Dana got home from school she would collapse right into my arms, sobbing over some harsh words from her elderly teacher. By the end of the year I disliked Mrs. Jackson just as much as Dana did.

But Mrs. Jackson was my patient now. I was determined to give her the same care I gave everyone else. But as I made my way to her room, all of my old anger came back, worse than ever.

What kind of care did Mrs. Jackson ever show Dana? I thought.

I stopped outside her door and put a smile on my face. I would show Mrs. Jackson the caring respect I gave to all of my patients, but I certainly wouldn’t have to feel it!

I pushed open the door. Is that really Mrs. Jackson? I wondered. The woman in the bed was so tiny and frail, nothing like the ogre in my memories. I was shocked at the change in her. She had once frightened my little girl so much—now she looked completely helpless.

Moving to her side, I heard her softly speaking. “And forgive us our…” she whispered. “And forgive us our…” Her forehead creased in frustration. She struggled to remember the words, but remained stuck on the same line.

Instinctively I took both of her hands in mine. “And forgive us our trespasses,” I said. “As we forgive those who trespass against us.” We finished the prayer together.

Mrs. Jackson lay back into her pillows. I felt lighter too. My anger and bitterness was gone, carried off with the words I had just spoken.

I hadn’t realized how heavy a burden I had carried until God took it away with a simple prayer.

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