We asked Skip McDonald, RN, BSN, ThB, a nurse for 43 years, for insight into the topic of racial justice specifically relating to nurses and nursing.
Skip has been on staff with InterVarsity for 27 years. She serves in the southeast as a resource specialist focusing on mental health, spiritual formation, and Bible study. She’s an author and the founder of Integrative Grace, a discipleship ministry that helps others grow in grace and intimacy with Jesus Christ.
Q. What has been your experience as a nurse of color?
A. Great question. Remembering back in the day, it started off pretty rough. One situation especially stands out.
I had been a nurse for about two years and started orientation to work at a hospital. Pretty early on it seemed as though the orientation instructor did not care for me. I wasn’t sure why at first. As the month went on, it became obvious not just to me, but my colleagues that she did not like me. I was the only black in the class.
I’m not quick to throw out the race card, so it caught me by surprise really, even back then. Having this type of interaction with my instructor made it even more difficult to learn. I was fortunate to discover that, before I ever went to the unit where I would work, she had gone before me and spoke poorly of me. The Lord gave me the courage to resign on the last day of orientation.
I also had the courage to confront her on the treatment I had received. This was an empowering move for me. I chose to trust that the Lord would provide work elsewhere, and He did. Not too long after I was gone, I found out she was gone too. I’m not sure what happened; I just know it is not wise to mistreat others, especially due to the color of their skin.
Q. How did that experience affect you over time?
A. After that time, I grew as a nurse and a person. I was quite young out of nursing school, and put up with a lot as a young nurse. I know how to treat others with respect and expect the same.It’s ok if someone doesn’t like me, but respect is necessary. Since that time, I don’t recall outright racism towards me. I have sought to be respectful, to get the job done, and go home!
Q. How can Christian nurses respond to the racial injustice topic biblically? What should we know or understand?
A. The answer to this question would take much time to unpack. A shorter answer would be to love others as Jesus loves us. It really is that basic.
And yet, our hearts can be complicated. It’s a heart thing! Maybe we sometimes forget that the Lord knows our hearts even when we try to hide things from ourselves. I believe that as we all stay true to Christ, He will live and love through us.
This is an amazing opportunity for the church of Jesus to shine forth His light. Are we willing? Only we can answer that before God. If we are willing, the world will get to know our Christ more speedily. Nurses can help lead the way in this, although I know nurses on the frontline are taxed in every way during this pandemic.
Pray. We need to pray that we would be people willing to make a difference. Prayer, God’s Word, and reliance upon the Holy Spirit will give us what we need to make a difference.
Q. Direct us to Scripture to gain more spiritual wisdom, Skip.
A. I think Ephesians 3:14-21 is appropriate. Nursing can be a very taxing job and ministry. When we’re able to love others out of God’s love for us, we have His love to give and we’re empowered by His love. From this place, we can expect Him to do more than we could ever ask, because He said He would.
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ
may dwell in your hearts through faith.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people,
to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—
that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably
more than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us,
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!
Check out Multiethnic Ministries, a part of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (NCF’s parent organization). Find blog posts, Bible studies and articles, including many items about Intercultural Competency.