For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
Several months ago, I went to the mall (apparently, like every other person in Knoxville that day). Walking through the crowded shoe section in Dillard’s, I suddenly heard, “Mom! Oh God, someone help her! Mom!” My instincts kicked in, and I immediately told the lady, “I’m a nurse!” and helped roll her elderly mom who had passed out and was slightly shaking on her side. Thankfully, she quickly came to and told us she had become overheated before getting dizzy. I left as they talked to the EMS and suddenly felt overwhelmingly sad. Tears stinging the back of my eyelids kind of sad. I ran towards that situation as a nurse, and I walked away from it remembering that I was actually no longer a nurse. I remember thinking to myself that this was the first time I had ever felt like I did not know who I was. I was upset with myself- my heart doing the talking, “Do you even have a purpose anymore? All you ever wanted to be, you became. Then you left it.” What had I done?
Let’s rewind a little bit for context:
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” My first grade teacher, Sis. Campbell, asked.
“I am going to be a nurse,” I replied. There was no, “I want to be,” about it. My parents were nurses. I was going to be a nurse. Period.
Her reply went something like, “That’s a wonderful thing to want to be. Now let’s work on holding your pencil correctly when you write.” Isn’t it funny how you can look back and remember the most random things, so vividly? Poor thing, she wanted me to hold my pencil correctly so bad. I remember really trying. I also remember her telling the class, “If you want to memorize something, repeat it out loud 7 times. If you learn incorrectly, repeat it 14 times to relearn.” I remember getting pushed over by a boy named Willie at recess, picking up my glasses off of the ground and examining my bleeding knees.
Fast forward a little over ten years, I was graduating high school with a full paid scholarship to the Nursing School both of my parents attended, still holding my pencil incorrectly (anyone else get pencil lead all over the side of your hands?) and still repeating anything I wanted to memorize 7 times out loud. No longer holding a grudge against Willie.
If you read my previous post, you know that nursing school was not a complete breeze for me. I studied extremely hard. I would listen in class, record every lecture, re-listen at home and THEN take notes, study them, and then meet up with a few friends to “teach” it to them. This was my study process for every class, every exam. I worked hard, and it paid off. It seemed as though God had His hand in every step of the process. I got my first choice for my 5th level preceptorship, the Cardiac Unit at the hospital my dad worked for. I never went for a job interview, but instead was blessed to be hired on mid-semester, on the same rotation of my then supervisor dad in the SICU, and on the day shift! That was a miracle itself. DREAMS. COME. TRUE. I couldn’t even believe it! December 13, 2012 was my Pinning Ceremony. I was a nurse. It was who I was. I was confident and proud of my accomplishments.
Anthony and I married in December of 2015, and I began my new job in Knoxville in February of 2016. I was so thankful to have found a great nursing job in my new home. God never fails to provide for His children. After several months, though, I began feeling so conflicted about my calling for the first time in my life. I went from KNOWING my ministry was nursing and my mission field was whatever floor I was on at the time to suddenly feeling torn. I now had two ministries and two mission fields.But, there was only one of me. I was missing youth services, camps, and conferences because I couldn’t get off of work. My husband, who was so excited to now have a helpmate in his ministry, was still attending everything alone. It was frustrating. Suddenly balancing what felt like two full time jobs with being a new wife, I became exhausted attempting to keep up and be present at everything. I tried my best to constantly give 100% of myself to both ministry and my nursing career... if you didn’t know, there isn’t 200% of anyone. Failure waiting to happen. The desires of my heart slowly started shifting towards being fully involved at the church I had grown to love deeply.
I began praying for a way to be with my family, especially my husband, every day. To invest all of my time and energy at the church and for the extra ministries that extend from the church. Long story short, a door opened for me to be full-time at the church/school and with one day (literally, one day) to make up my mind, I gratefully walked through it. The Lord made the extreme transition as seamless as it could have possibly been. I have been blessed with the kindest, smartest, most wonderful group of children to have for my first year at ACS.
Now, back to that day at the mall- as I sat in my car, confused and heavy hearted, the Lord graciously spoke to my heart. I felt Him whisper into my spirit that my identity should have never been found in nursing. My identity should have rested solely on being His. I now know that my identity is not as a teacher or even as a youth pastor’s wife. My identity is solely as a child of God. I didn’t have to prove myself as a nurse- how many twelve hours shifts I could work in a row or how many chest compressions I performed in a week’s time, and I don’t have to prove myself by always being at 100% in ministry. He’s okay if I’m tired. He’s not angry at me for sometimes becoming weary in well-doing. The Lord doesn’t call His children to run with Him. He simply asks us to walk.
Media and the day we live in makes feeling “enough” so overwhelmingly difficult at times. Dressing the part, cooking the best meals (always organic, never processed), being the perfect wife, having the cleanest house, never repeating your outfits, exercising every day, never appearing sleepy, always attending every.single.event. people invite you to, having the perfect body, the nicest car, the most up to date home, the best perfume, prettiest purse, cutest planner (to hold all of the events you most definitely will attend and be early for)... you get the picture. Our existence becomes exhausting.
That day, sitting in my car in West Town Mall parking lot, Jesus gently reminded me that my goal is CHRIST and His banner over me is LOVE. I am a child of God, I am a friend of God. I am loved and anointed by God. I am justified and redeemed by God. I am a new creation in Him. My character, my name, my uniqueness, my identity... all of me, found in Him.
The person that Jesus has equipped to run a successful company is no greater or less than the person Jesus has called to serve the church by vacuuming the floor after service. There is no hierarchy in His eyes- why do we create this for ourselves? Yes, I want to be as successful as I can possibly be, but I have decided to choose contentment in every facet of any ministry He places me in.
When God inspired Solomon to write Ecclesiastes 3, I want to slightly selfishly believe He had us ladies in mind, reminding us of His ever-present hand on our lives. We tend carry the weight of the world on our shoulders in a unique way. If a friend or family member (or sometimes even a stranger) is hurting, we immediately want to fix it to the point of feeling like it is us enduring the struggle. We fret and worry. When life’s path seems to shift and change, it can be overwhelming. In our attempt to be “everything for everyone,” we tend to forget who we truly are called to be in Jesus. It can be exhausting. I want to remind you all, to everything there truly is a season, and there genuinely is a time for every purpose under heaven. I refuse to let satan tell me my nursing degree was pointless and my time invested in using my hands to help heal others was time wasted. I refuse to let myself become too wrapped up in my past, my present, or my future. I refuse to be weighted down with the cares of this world. I choose every day to wake up and be the best warrior for Jesus that I can be this day, wherever He decides to put me. There are seasons when family must be your number one (and sometimes only) focus. There will be seasons of life or job changes where you will need to invest extra energy in that area. There will be seasons of turmoil, pain, stress, anxiety, worry, hurt... but, you are not defined by those things. Those things will not conquer you. The dark seasons will not last.
Tired momma, you are doing good.
Tired wife, you are doing good.
Tired ministry leader, you are doing good.
Tired nurse, you are doing good.
Tired teacher, you are doing good.
Tired Christian, lift up your eyes to the hills. Focus on Him, He will give you rest. You are doing good.
Make an active decision today to quit comparing to others. Let Jesus be your standard.
I love this quote by Lysa Terkeurst- “Jesus doesn’t participate in the rat race. He’s into the slower rhythms of life, like abiding, delighting, and dwelling- all words that require us to trust Him with our place and our pace.”
May your goal be Christ. His banner over you is love.