A lot of people have asked me how all of this wild change came about in my life recently. It is a long story, very very long, but I want to tell it…if for nothing else than that others will be encouraged to take flying leaps of faith.
I wrote a letter to Johns Hopkins University when I was twelve and told them I wanted to attend their medical school. Their admissions office wrote me back (!!!) and told me to look them up when I completed my Bachelor’s degree and needed a medical school. I have kept that letter all these years. I love medicine. I’ve always loved it. I have vivid memories of visiting family friends and while the other kids played whiffle ball, I was sitting on the porch reading a medical textbook (the mother of that family was a nurse). I have never wanted to do anything else.
But life happens. And sometimes dreams seem so far out of reach that we give up and get lost and turn away in sorrow. I have done that with medicine. Many many times. But not anymore.
When I returned home from the grandest adventure of my life to date, I set about intentionally to be a nurse. I loved classes on nursing and the human body. It is truly an amazing organism, full of wonder and miracle. I would sit in anatomy class and marvel at the intricacies of the human body and be ever more convinced that God is a good Creator. I loved it, even when I did not understand it. But the last semester got more than a little rough with my family, far too close to death for comfort, and I backed out. I laid aside my dream and did the second best thing. I do the second best thing a lot. But not anymore.
So I transferred to a little university tucked into the northwest corner of Arkansas and completed a degree and got a job at that little university. And I tried to convince myself that the second best thing was actually the best thing. I tried. I am a pretty bad liar, even when I am lying to myself. I can always tell when it is an untruth. By January of 2013, I knew I needed to leave but it all seemed impossible. I fought it. I quit listening to the Lord and drowned out the noise and set about the business of making higher education my business and telling myself that serving college students was my life. I love it, too. But not as much as I love medicine.
By January of 2014, I had gotten pretty good at not listening at all. I was living, but it was more survival than actual life. I worked in a great place with good people trying to do good things, but it did not satisfy. I started a Master’s degree in education so that I could seek employment on a different level. I thought I was doing the right thing. I was only doing the safe thing, though. I told the Lord that I would give Him two more years in my little town on my little college campus and that then I would leave. I have found that it does not do to tell the Lord how things will be. It is a sure bet that life won’t end up that way. My love of medicine and my calling that is closer than breathing finally won out over my striving to live the second best thing and I started doing some checking around in February. I had no real belief that I could do it – I am my sole support and I have to work. And besides, I was working on my Master’s degree already. I could not possibly return to medicine. Higher education was going to be my path. But I did more checking. And had more conversations with people in the medical field: nurses, doctors, retired, active. I started researching programs and schools and hospitals. I was still not convinced it would come about. It was strictly a personal research project.
I do not remember the exact day it all changed in me, the day the dam broke and I started believing. I only remember that I decided if I was to live the life to which I had been called, I had to live it in the way I was made to love and serve. I had to do other than sitting behind a desk. I needed to touch and listen and clean up vomit and give shots and listen to heartbeats and hold the hands of the dying and thump the backs of the new babies and love the unloved.
And now…I will. I have a home and things to put in it (that’s a whole other story of blessing in itself). I have a school. I have a job. I have a new town. I have a heart that beats and a Savior that loves and saves. I have everything I need. And on top of all of that, I will see my dreams realized. I gave them up and I am getting them back, slowly but surely. When I leap like this, I am caught. Amen.