Signs and wonders

Anticipating my upcoming doctors’ appointments and the inevitable release to work again, I’d been doing a lot of wondering what that work might be. Putting much thought as to what would be best for me and my family, I had decided that I wanted to find something part time (about 25-30 hours a week), that would have me working 9 am- 3 pm so I could be home when the kids got out of school, close to home, and that would pay well enough to cover the mortgage and some of the bills. The more I looked around, the more I realized that it was unlikely I could find all of the elements within a 5 mile radius of our house. I might be able to find something part-time and close, but there was very little possibility of finding anything in our town that would pay my mortgage. I was willing to look a bit farther afield, but realized that would mean I probably wouldn’t be able to get home at the time my kids get out of school.

I knew God had something in mind for me, though. I’d been praying about it for months. The one certainty I had was that it wasn’t going to be the same thing I had been doing. Every time I thought about my old job, or talked to someone about their similar experience, my stomach would start to churn and I’d feel the defenses and grief rising in me like those street barriers in Europe–the posts that come up out of the ground to block a street at certain times of the day. Lately, the feeling had become less visceral, but I know that’s because I was becoming more able to think about the positive possibilities of a future in service. The question was, what kind of service and where?

The thought of returning to school and learning how to use some of my recent experiences in healthcare was attractive. I considered nutrition, patient education, patient advocacy. Then I considered the fact that, having no income, I couldn’t very well consider going back for another degree. I kept returning to what I had been trained to do, though I knew at this point, the usual outlet for that wasn’t where I was feeling called to be. I was starting to feel less like running away from it, but more like finding a different way to embrace it.

Over the summer several friends had encouraged me to look into a residency program that would give me training in hospital chaplaincy and pastoral care. Each time I thought about it, the more it seemed to sound like a good idea. Only thing was, it was the complete opposite of what I had been planning! While on vacation I prayed to God that I would have a sign that would lead me in the right direction. The immediate answer to my prayer was a date on the calendar– August 15th.

I returned home from all of my travels on August 3. I knew I needed to get busy about finding a job, so I made contact with the local chaplaincy training program. The manager indicated there might be space in the program. I hunkered down to complete the lengthy application in just a few days. The space opened up and an interview was scheduled. I was anxious and excited, though everything seemed to be moving ahead. I turned in my application on a Friday. The following Monday I was interviewed and offered the spot in the program!

It paid enough to pay my mortgage and a few bills and would definitely help me figure out what to do in the longer term future, but the location was a 35 minute drive away from my house, it was full time and required extra hours being on-call at the hospital 7-8 times a month. There was no way I could be home for my kids when I wanted to be, but we’d be okay financially. It seemed, in spite of all the opposites to what I thought I wanted, it was exactly where I was supposed to be. I said yes.

I’m now two weeks into the program. The initial feelings of intimidation and being overwhelmed are starting to lessen, and I think I might be up for this challenge.

By the way, the day I interviewed, was offered and accepted the position, was August 15th. How’s that for following the signs? : )

Giving thanks today for:

426. God given signs

427. Opportunities that push me to be bigger than I think I can be

428. Supervisors to guide and challenge me with feedback

429. Fellow residents to share the work

430. A family that supports me even though I’m there less for them

431. being able to recognize and appreciate just how far I’ve come

432. The courageous patients and staff I serve

433. sacred echoes in poetry

434. Learning how to leave behind unhelpful stuff

435. sacred echoes in sermons

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