So here’s to a beginning. I have been wanting to write for a while but haven’t been able to pull together the words as to all that I have been feeling and learning. It has been on my heart to share some of my experiences that have truly shaped me to be the person I am. It has pressed on me to share about some of my darkest times and how I was carried through. This blog is dedicated to the Lord, the very one who carries my world.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Director of the Fear Parade

Days soon turned into weeks, and weeks into months. My career in nursing was well on its way. But it seemed there was a growing restlessness within me that I couldn’t escape. As much as I tried, I couldn’t deny the emerging dissatisfaction I felt. I had hoped starting over at a new hospital would eradicate any and all prior discontentment. But that wasn’t the case. I found myself listlessly watching the physicians in white coats come and go throughout my shifts. Watching. Wondering what could have been. Frustration rose and fell over me, knowing I was denied a chance they received.

More, why did so many find great meaning inside these walls and yet all I found was monotony? Routine. Time clocks. Rules. Supervisors. It all felt so empty. Restricted. Unchallenging even. Most days I found I blew through my tasks in record time while others struggled to complete all necessary tasks by shift end.
I couldn’t help but wonder, “Was there more”?
The road ahead was hazy with clouds, and there were no clear signs pointing which way to go. More, I still carried scars from the roadblocks I had once encountered. Jaded and unsteady, I knew the God I thought I had once known so well was in fact far different than I had once believed. A part of me wasn’t too sure I was ready to trust him again. Really trust him. After all, I had seen some things. Some dark things. And I had experienced rejection on more than one occasion.
But where did that leave me now? Where was I to go from here?  
I couldn’t be sure.
Without much in the way of assurance or even confirmation, I began my application for nurse practitioner school. I had studied carefully the differences between that of an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) and that of a physician assistant (PA). I found myself interviewing those I worked with, any and all who would engage. I craved data. I sought personal stories told by those who had gone before me. It was exciting really, considering the possibility of working in a more autonomous role. The ability to evaluate patients, diagnose, order and interpret diagnostic tests, initiate and manage treatments including the prescribing of medications was thrilling to me. An inward stirring had begun again, and it was exhilarating.
I leaned up against the old wooden counter in the charting area one rainy afternoon. I had been talking with a PA who worked in gastroenterology, inquiring about what diagnoses she typically treats.  As she shared, I secretly pictured myself as one of the white coats.  
Would I someday round on these halls?
As I reviewed potential programs, I found the schooling to become a nurse practitioner far more doable, as I could continue working as a registered nurse while I attended school. A PA program would entail a full-time commitment. I knew the PA model would be more empirically based, leaning heavily on the sciences which was initially more attractive to me. But I came to learn that nurse practitioners were in great demand and practicing without supervision or even collaboration with physician colleagues in some states.  
And with that, I submitted my application for nurse practitioner school. I couldn’t be sure I wouldn’t again be faced with more thin envelopes, so I half braced myself for impending rejection. I could no longer rely on my once held ideals that God would help get me in. He had closed the door for medical school, and I knew he could just as easily close another.
But I secretly hoped he wouldn’t.
A week later I stood outside the hospital entrance. It was a warm day, late in spring. Bees were buzzing in the distance, and my eyes soaked in the vibrant hues from a nearby garden. People appeared to be walking in all directions around me, having emerged with nature out of hibernation. The sun gently warmed my arms as I began to make my way towards the door. I hated that I needed to go in. “Just a few moments longer,” I thought.
Looking to stall for just one more moment before the start of my shift, I pulled out my phone only to note an email.
It was from Quinnipiac University.
As I stood there in my turquoise scrubs and blue sneakers, my heart began to beat a little faster.
I had not expected a reply so soon. I had applied not seven days ago. This couldn’t be good.
I cautiously braced myself for what was to come as I opened the email only to find the relieving words, “Congratulations”.
I had been accepted.
The warm spring air swept through my blonde hair, and in that hope filled moment spring had been infused not only into the air but also into my soul. I swallowed hard as I reread those words over and over, waiting for my heart to catch up with my mind. Thoughts flooded my mind as I glanced up at the large hospital building. I was going to get my chance after all. I was going to be able to practice medicine as I had dreamed so long ago.
I couldn’t believe it.
It felt like I had ‘made it’.
And I couldn’t help but wonder if this had been the plan all along? Every painful delay. Every rejection. Even, dare I say, my sickness too? I wasn’t sure I was ready to acknowledge these truths, fully embracing my brokenness as part of his plan for good  
Ann Voskamp says, “It takes courage to listen with our whole heart to the tick of God’s timing rather than march to the loud beat of our fears.”
I knew I had been leading that marching band for as long as I could remember. In fact, I was an honorary director.
Isaiah 58:11 says, “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen you frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”
He had been guiding me. All along. Even in what felt like the dark.
The clouds were clearing, and it was as if I could see my way again. But why had I been so reluctant to trust him in the haze? Was God only trustable when he did as I saw fit? When he obeyed all of my wishes?
2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you”. [Emphasis added]
Psalm 103:8 says, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”
Not only does he fulfill his promises, not only does he guide us always, but he is patient with our stubborn and slow to learn selves too. And this patience was a life-giving gentle glory that had only just begun to soften my hard and all too self-centered heart.