I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a warm night in August circa 2011. I had just moved to Chicago and decided I needed a little more Jesus for the day. So I hopped the ‘L and ventured out to a nearby church for afternoon service. For the most part, service was typical black church. Drawn out praise and worship, a slightly off-tune choir sprinkled with tenors sweeter than Splenda, and thirsty chicks convinced today was the day their pencil skirt and lace front would finally pay off in the form of a husband.
About 45-minutes into the program, the preacher dropped the classic turn up line, “bills paid off!” (basically the equivalent of hearing the first few bars of “Poison” at a cookout), and like wildfire, the Holy Ghost hit. Speaking in tongues, shouting, Hallelujah hands, sprinting, the ish had officially hit the fan. And then it happened. Sister So-and-So breaks into a praise dance and her boob plops out like Janet at the Super Bowl. Now as a classic church kid I’ve seen my share of radical praises, but this takes top honors. This wasn’t a bra flash or a nip-slip, but full frontal boob. And like Moses strolling through the Red Sea, she appeared. I swear chick moved in slow motion as she made her way through a sea of worshippers to ground zero of Boob-Gate. In one swift motion she swaddled Sister So-and-So in a white cloth and whispers what I imagine was something along the lines of, “Now you sit the hell down and just clap. You knew good and well when you got dressed this morning your buttons wouldn’t survive any sudden movements. And now your too legit to quit behind got me running across this sanctuary like I’m George Zimmerman at the Million Man March.”
Stroll through a black church on any given Sunday and you’re likely to find a cast of characters. The deacon, the choir, the preacher, the usher, the church mothers, etc. But dating back to whenever black church became an adjective, verb and noun, there’s one that has always stood out from the rest, the nurse. Fans, tissues, bottled water, Advil, they’re basically the Walgreens of the church scene and we love them for it. Clad in all white everything (topped off with white tights and paper hats for the true OGs), whether posted up or roaming the floor, these women and men are our unsung heroes and the backbone of the Sunday experience.
Think about it. When the preacher says “lift up holy hands,” who was there to grab the baby from your arms and presumably prevent your praise from catching a child endangerment case? When you unexpectedly broke out into the ugly cry, who did a drive by and slipped a Kleenex into your snotty, clammy hands? When you decided to lock your knees during prayer, who singlehandedly lifted your heavy a** up, waved smelling salts under your nose while blocking the vag patrol from seeing all your glory? And when you couldn’t contain your praise and proceeded to knuck and buck down the pew, who picked your glasses up off the floor, and waited patiently with no judgment for you to gather yourself, when despite the assumed extra padding of her loafers, her feet actually felt like something reminiscent of a Dr. Scholl’s before commercial? Side Note: Having your glasses knocked off, in any fashion, is the ultimate form of humiliation for anyone with four eyes, so the aforementioned point is a big one.
And while the usual churchgoer takes roughly two hours and a 15-minute Bobby Jones Gospel break, to get ready on Sunday morning only to shout themselves out of every bit of hard work, church nurses nationwide give the middle finger to fashion every Sunday on our behalf. That’s love.
They’re also the lifelines for any pastor suffering from a dry throat. You know the kind, the asthmatic, Biggie Smalls-type breathing preachers liable to send themselves into a coughing fit at any moment. Changing gears slightly, where do they get the water and why does the cup need a paper towel on top? Is it decoration, or a shied against whatever might fly out of Nurse So-and-So’s nose and/or mouth? If the latter, there’s no reason she should be on water duty in the first place and there’s a strong possibility your church is trifling.
So, to church nurses everywhere, the brave men and women who wipe our snot, hug away our worries and shield the sanctuary from our extremities, we salute you. Could you be a little quicker to distribute church fans when you know the sanctuary thermostat is set on hell? Sure. Are you my first line of defense in the event of a true health scare or emergency, f**k no (unless I see a degree, someone call 911 and don’t let them touch me), but that’s beside the point. You’re awesome and don’t let anyone tell you different, thus sayeth the Lord.