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April 24, 2017

I have been under the impression lately that the Lord is teaching me about His sovereignty and how much I really accept His authority.

I received a phone call from a restricted number one afternoon while at work. It came immediately after an email from the graduate school to which I applied, so I picked it up on the second ring. I was told I could not come in for an interview as my application was incomplete; my third reference letter had not made it for their review. I insisted I had posted it myself weeks before the deadline and she gently but just as firmly reiterated that I would not be considered for selection. Desperate for her to stay on the line I almost shouted hysterically that I had sent the letter via paper mail. There was a pause and some rustling papers before she reluctantly said the letter had been found. Instead of saying the professional equivalent of “just kidding”, however, she said she would need to discuss her findings with the committee and would let me know what they decide. One whole, agonizing day later I receive an email stating the receipt of all components of my application and my continued candidacy. But that moment in the stairwell after that phone call was when the million dollar question punched me in the gut:

“Even if after I am still ‘in the running’ I am eventually not accepted to the program, where will my heart be then? Is God still good; is He still on my side?

The obvious answer is yes, God is inherently good and has only the best in mind for me. But His promises do not say He will grant every wish, and although He wants His children to prosper and flourish, our sanctity is more important. So where should my heart be, then, if I were to be a good daughter?
It would mean submission. Complete and utter surrender. This time it’s different because it means laying down my hopes and dreams, my time and effort both past and present, and all my sacrifices and saying it’s okay to turn on the shredder. It means giving everything up. It means dying. Yes, I mean it. Death. There is nothing I have clung onto more tightly than my aspirations to be a healthcare professional. It is an idol because if it is taken away from me I would be entirely lost and purposeless. I have been warned and lovingly reminded many times, but now I am put to the test.

Let’s forget the application anxiety. That question is still applicable in my singleness. Lately that has been challenged as well. (Why all of this at once?!) Is He still good when things don’t pan out the way they were “supposed to”? Again, the obvious answer is yes, but come on, really? I would begrudgingly say this, at best. When every back has suddenly been turned on you the only one left in the room will be God. Is He still good? Will He be enough? Better yet, will He still be good and sufficient when people begin to enter into my life again? How easily swayed my heart has become. How foolish I have been to trust in my own intuition.

Love is enacted. God did not just promise His people’s redemption. He followed through with the deliverance of a substitute, but not just any random being; He sent His son. I have been bought at the highest possible price. How dare I insist on having my own way. And yet, it is so hard for me to be told I cannot have what I want.

He is teaching me, and I am still learning.

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Plateau

October 31, 2016

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They say once you start consistently exercising you reach a point in your progress where, well, there is no progress. Your steady weight loss or muscle gain has suddenly hit a wall and the routines you used to do aren’t working anymore. You’ll step on that scale morning after morning, night after night, hoping that your sore muscles were not in vain. But you’re still very much where you were when you slammed into a halt. Maybe you’ve gone backwards a little, who knows.

I wish someone told me my early 20’s were going to feel like that. I wouldn’t have listened, of course, but just the same it would have been an insightful thing to hear.

I’ve been doing the same thing for almost a year now, just like any other “millennial”, but there just doesn’t seem to be any forward movement, no further ground gained. I have a spreadsheet that would tell me otherwise –a rather telling file that displays the full glory of my Type A personality–and I know the majority of my progress is subtle and their resolutions pending, but I can’t help but feel like most of us are kind of just floating in a sedentary pond…where we will remain for the next 50 years if I’m operating under the assumption that the progress with social security has followed its downward trend and the average retirement age has increased as a result. It’ll be more of the same thing for the next half-century. So we’ll talk about the next big thing on our timeline which 99.99% of us believe is dating and eventually marriage, assuming you get lucky on your first try.

Just ask the next 20-something year old you run into about plans for the future. I guarantee “dating” or “married (with kids)” will be within the first 3 things they list. Because most of us have hit our plateaus.

Perhaps I’m just grumbling and I’m in the minority of young adults who feel this way. It is, I admit, a rather bleak way of looking at things. But it’s hard to see past the wall when you feel like there isn’t anything to look forward to anymore. Even when I get accepted into a program that will be the burst I’ve been working towards but just another incline towards another plateau. Supposing I overcome my wariness of the opposite sex and my general self-doubt, dating and marriage could be a great thing. But that cannot be all I have left to be excited for.

Maybe the root of my discontent at my imaginary future is simply dissatisfaction. I want to move on from here because I’ve grown absolutely weary of the same thing for the past year; how can I endure for another?

If you keep working at it, I am told you can come out of that plateau. Some shoot straight up in a display of exponential gain while others will continue with their steady climb. So we must soldier on, even if each day is like reading a book you’re just not that interested in; you have to keep reading to flip the pages so you can finally get to the good parts. And I have to believe there are going to be good parts.

More than this

July 14, 2016

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“I don’t consider [talking with you right now] as quality time; this is just time, because it’s the most important thing. It’s THE priority. It’s more than quality time.

It was humid outside and the pulsing lightning illuminated the angry clouds in the distance behind him. It’s a very odd thing, having someone you admire sit in your passenger seat telling you about his past relationships, drinking bubble tea. We were comfortable, and that to me in itself was foreign and strange. I didn’t know what I was feeling.

He shared things with me that he’d “never told/tell any girl before” and I told him a story about one of the hardest, most pivotal times in my life. In that intimate space the defenses were down. Any question was free game. And we carried on like that for 3 hours, laughing, discussing, asking, and learning. From trivial to personal, lighthearted to heavy, we shared ourselves. He wasn’t so distant anymore and I wasn’t so scared. I could be me and that’d be okay with him.

Although from our conversation I felt he didn’t and doesn’t reciprocate, that time became something more. It’s like someone hit a pause button on my feelings and I could just enjoy his company. No hoping, no second-guessing, no wondering. He’s a non-competitive inhibitor, which may be the best way I can describe it all.

I’m still on pause until something sets it back into motion (to continue on or go another way), but last night will be a happy memory no matter what happens.

“There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.”

 

 

Debrief

July 5, 2016

“MSET, north patient tower, seven twenty six; MSET, north patient tower, seven twenty six; MSET, north patient tower, seven twenty six.”

The room was crowded. The crash cart, our nurses, the tech, the unit director who happened to be visiting that day, and the rapid response team were all huddled over the patient. The director, in his expensive suit covered by the garish yellow isolation gown, was searching for a pulse and poised to begin chest compressions. Amidst the general frenzy and the instructions being barked there was a profound couple of seconds of silence as we all came to realize there was no pulse. The nurse in charge had at some point notified the team of the patient’s advance directive which dictates that we cannot attempt resuscitation. It was anticlimactic in a way; all the adrenaline racing through and fueling an effort we could not pursue. Soon the room was emptied until it was just the lifeless body of the patient covered with a sheet and the bleary-eyed charge nurse restoring the crash cart.

All I could think was, “God, I wish I could have been a part of that…”, and I was, but not in a significant way–I was still a neonate (not even a fledgling) in my teal as I stared at the crimson and white of the professionals.

But I think there could not have been a more pertinent display of the nature of God imparted to man. There were so many people rushing to save one life, so much effort. When one patient begins crashing or we are anticipating the reception of a critical patient, the entire hospital is notified. If He had not put this noble nature in us there would not be a health profession; that there exist careers dedicated to saving lives is evident of the [com]passionate love of Christ. The very instinct to preserve and protect a life is not human, no matter how good a person we as individuals may think we are.

Does anyone else have a relationship with someone where you frequently think, “Please, let me explain! This isn’t who you think I am–if you got to know me you’d understand.”

Because words are imperfect. You are imperfect. You’re a work in progress.

#relatable (pt.2)

June 29, 2016

“Is everything okay?”

The computer glitched and broke up the sentence but I heard it. I watched my face on the screen split into a smile, a deceiving scar. Confused, he asked again. In that moment I had to choose whether a wall comes down for him or not. It’s funny. How would I concisely summarize everything? What if they’re not actually worth the amount of grief I’m going through? He doesn’t want the whole story; why is he asking again?

“No, but I will be.” The wall stays up.

I deflect. “But is everything okay with you?” He had had a pretty rough day already and I did just drop some heavy stuff on him. Planning a trip is hard and I messed up big time. This time the stress was in his tired voice. I hate that I had something to do with it. He told me about his day, counting the “strikes” on his fingers as he berated himself. After offering the few unsolicited encouragements I could, he thanked me and I signed off abruptly.

He may not have a problem sharing, and I do appreciate that, but it’s a trust issue for me. I don’t trust myself to let him care about the issues that throw me off-kilter. He doesn’t get that part of me because he already has enough. You’ve done enough. This is as far as you’ll come.

#relatable

June 28, 2016

“Are you okay?”

I heard the beginning of that question and immediately felt a knot clench in my chest. I don’t know why but it felt more like an accusation than concern. Quickly (almost too quickly) I laughed it off. “I’m just tired, but you must be too.” The fatigue showed in his face in that harsh, unforgiving light as I’m sure did mine. The stress was in his rumpled collar and I wanted nothing more than to iron it, but I was a million miles away. I didn’t want to tell him, mainly because my insecurities make me believe he doesn’t actually want to know and my issues are too much for most, such as they are. In fact, it’s hard for me to tell anyone what has been going on.

The simple truth is it’s easier for someone to empathize when the experience is relatable. One finds one has the ability to endure the verbal onslaught of a tsunami of emotions when one can relate to the struggle. Another dimension of this is the comforting/affirmation phase of listening. It’s awkward when you want to console someone or offer advice but can’t because it’s not something you’ve previously experienced or had to deal with. But that’s really only applicable to the emotionally immature. My point is, venting can be a burden.

I know I have good friends I can call out to for help, but sometimes you get so beaten down that you need someone to reach out to you or just sit in the muck with you. But it’s never fair to expect that from your friends, is it? So perhaps some things you really do need to battle alone. Because you’re just too tired, sad, afraid, and hurt. I don’t know. Maybe that’s what being an adult means. I can’t say I appreciate him asking but it made me realize that no, I am not okay. I am all sorts of anxious greys and sad blacks. My heart is withering and stiffening and it’s downcast where I hide.

I will be okay, eventually.

I hope it’s soon.

I don’t want to be sad anymore.

Photo by Yacine Hichri, CC BY 2.0 Part of my hospital chaplaincy duties is to write a reflection on how it’s going. Identities may be altered for privacy. All the writings are here. — I did my firs…

Source: Resilient and Fragile: To Rise and Fall, In Reverse and Farewell

June 1, 2016

And into the great chasm she cried, “See me, find me,” before turning back the way she came. Pointless, as usual, which in a word is called insanity.

Waiting

May 27, 2016

White Haven Beach (Queensland, Australia)

I’ve had to wait for the bus, a waiter/waitress, a seat, a response, the perfect time to leave a conversation, etc.

I’ve had to wait for death several times, too. I’m tired of it. You grow up when you learn what that means, and I hope some get to escape that kind of knowledge.

I built walls once, to cope with the first gaping hole, and I guess after the years went on I never took them down. They started as partitions but transformed into fortresses. In my defense I hardly think I got a fair chance to dismantle them. Pun intended. Somewhere in my mind I resolved that emotion is weakness. There are different kinds of mourners, but if I was to be one I would be the one who could do what frenzied emotions cannot, namely offer fortitude and help. I refused to be impaired and add to the problem because emotions are reckless and untrustworthy.

And so here I am. Blank. Subconsciously processing and preparing. Waiting. Again.