Voicemail

 

I’ve been putting off writing this for quite some time. I have a story to tell, and its one that has changed my life in a huge way. God showed His will to me in such a clear way, a way the likes of me shouldn’t have been privileged enough to hear. I should have written this story immediately. My fingers should have been thrown into fits of carpel tunnel from typing so quickly and eagerly. Turns out it wasn’t that easy. When I tried to write it, to really tell it, my fingers couldn’t seem to get the words out. Every way I tried to write it just never felt right. It didn’t feel good enough, and I didn’t feel like I was giving this story the praise it deserves.

I realized that it never seemed right because I was trying to tell it for myself. I was trying to decorate the words and paint beautiful pictures with them. I wanted the story to be well written because it is important. I wanted to glorify God with a blog post, to make sure people heard of His truly amazing grace.

I realize the irony of this now. Before I truly heard God’s will for me, I was doing what I thought I wanted for myself. Before I committed to telling this story, I was holding onto it for myself as well. Before I truly heard God’s will for me, I was constantly in doubt that the path I had chosen for my life would be good enough. Before I committed to telling this story, I was in doubt that my version of this tale would be good enough.

For as far back as I can remember having relevant somewhat big kid thoughts, I wanted to be a teacher. The thought seemed to settle in my bones and guide me through high school and my first year of college. I never had a doubt, never really wondered if I should be doing something else. Books were my happy place, and I knew that by being a teacher, I could spend my days there. It seemed to be everything I wanted, satisfying all the things I found myself becoming increasingly passionate about. I should add that the pre-big-kid-thought me had thought about being a nurse. I quickly learned that bodily things freaked me out and that I was far from being a scientific protégé of any kind. So, scientifically challenged me wasn’t hesitant to drop that idea, and it never resurfaced. It never resurfaced until after my first year of college, when God decided to call me. His message was one I wanted to let go to voicemail, but it turns out when God calls to throw a wrench in your plans, voicemail isn’t really an option.

Let me give you a little back story on the emergence of this call. After coming out swinging from my first year at school, I was ready to go back for another wonderful year of literature and lesson plans. That’s why I found it a tad bit strange when the thought of nursing kept coming to mind. It kept finding a way to creep into my thoughts daily. But, bodies are scary and science is a no go so I ignored it. One afternoon, I was writing a thank you letter to the donor of the scholarship I received for the English department. The requirements of the letter called for a description of my future plans. Because the requirements said nothing about describing God’s will, I launched effortlessly into a description of my big teaching dreams. I even got ambitious and mentioned the plans of going to grad school to become a professor. It wasn’t until I proofread the letter, as any English major would do, that I realized the letter didn’t say that at all. Instead of writing about my plans to attend grad school, it read “In the future I have plans to attend nursing school.” This of course, freaked me out. I realized that nursing was weighing much heavier on my mind than I had given it credit for. Being an English major, precision in writing has been drilled into my mind, commas are life and death situations and syntax is nothing less than crucial, that type of thing. To escape the weirdness that was that moment, I hopped on Facebook. As God is quite the funny one, the first thing that pops up in my news feed is an article about being called to be a nurse. Hahaha, I see what You did there.

After this, I decided to take it a step further because considering changing my whole life around wasn’t scary enough already. I had been having an impossible time figuring out a class schedule for my English classes in the fall, and by impossible I mean I spent hours trying to figure out how it could work. For giggles I looked up the classes I’d need to take to start nursing stuff. When I made a mock schedule of these classes, I was done within five minutes, and the schedule was beautiful, fitting together like a perfectly terrifying God-is-not-letting-you-get-away-from-this-one puzzle.

When the thought kept persisting and making itself known in the most unlikely of places, I decided to bring it up with my parents, because why not make it more real and scary? Once I had actually had a conversation with other humans and not just with myself in my head, I reached the pinnacle of stressfulness about all of this major life decision stuff. I went to bed feeling lost that night. The dream I’d pictured for so long was being shaken. When I went to read from my devotional that night, this is what I found:

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After that brought tears to my eyes, I got on Facebook again and this popped up right away in my feed:

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Fast forward. On a Sunday following all of this, there was a prayer service at church. The whole idea of the service was the opportunity to have some intense prayer time. There were musicians there and a prayer team praying over those who so wished to be prayed over. The team was split into groups of maybe two or three. The meeting was from 1 to 4, and I showed up at 3 with the idea in my head that I needed help. I sat in the back of the church, and I probably brought the age average of attendees down by at least 20 years. As I knelt to pray about this decision I knew God had put in my heart, something was different. I always know He is there when I pray, but this time He felt so close I wanted to reach out my hand. I got lost in prayer like I never have before. My parents will not hesitate to tell you how stubborn I can be, and I wouldn’t argue with them. Giving myself over to God’s will has always been a struggle. I have always found it easy to mistake my will for His. But during this service, I felt walls being bulldozed around all that stubbornness as I told God I was ready, that I trusted in His will completely. In that moment, my prayer became that if God wanted me to be nurse, that He put a hand on my back. Sound weird, I know, but it made sense in my head at the time. I don’t know how much consolation that is either, but for all the power of that moment, just go with it. As I prayed this, I realized that it was nearing 4 o’clock. By this point, the musicians had packed up, and most people had cleared out. As I was finishing up, I was the only one left.

Or so I thought I was, until a perplexingly small old woman came up to me and asked me if I was okay. When I assured her that I was peachy, she asked me if I had been prayed for yet, and when I told her I hadn’t, she asked me if I wanted to be prayed over. Accepting all the help I could get at that point, I extended her a heck yes and scooched over in the pew. I expected her to sit next to me, but she walked away instead. I was momentarily confused as she just left, but I chalked it up to old age and finished up my prayers. Before I could leave, the woman came back, but she wasn’t alone. She brought back the entire prayer team with her. I had never met a single one of these wonderful people, but they had no hesitation in surrounding me in the empty church in the middle of a pew. They greeted me with holy smiles, shook my hand, and made a circle around me. That’s nice, but that’s what prayer teams are supposed to do. Prayer teams don’t, however, know how to read minds. They don’t have any way of knowing that I had just prayed that a hand be placed on my back. They don’t have any way of knowing that when they took my hands and placed their hands on my back that they were the catalysts that have the course of my life being changed in ways I never would have imagined. They couldn’t have known that I had promised God I would go home and change my major without hesitation if it was His will just moments before they become the hands on my back. They certainly couldn’t have known that that is exactly what I did. They couldn’t have known that they were the push that sent me hurtling into the biggest leap of faith I’ve ever known.

I mentioned before that I had been putting telling this off because it never felt good enough, but there is another side to that. I knew that when I told this, it would become real. I am telling this now to make myself accountable for this leap. I am telling this because it’s not story to tell.

Admittedly, I was scared to give in to this. My whole life has been a compilation of maybe’s. Maybe I’m thinking too much. Maybe this will happen, maybe it won’t. Maybe I can’t do it, and maybe its all in my head. Maybe it’s just because I watched too many episodes of Grey’s Anatomy.

Maybe there is only one maybe to consider.

Maybe God knows exactly what He is doing and is calling me to something entirely bigger than myself, something I never even could have imagined for myself. Maybe it is the fear of all these maybe’s that has us wanting to send God’s calls to voicemail.

Many will chalk this story up to coincidence, but take as a small comfort the incredible and life changing things that happen when the call is answered instead.

 

 

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