Monday, March 28, 2011

Help Yourself

I remember when I was young, I wanted to climb a tree in our front yard. I knew I could do it, if only I could reach the first branch. Without even trying to scramble or shimmy up the trunk, I asked my mom to lift me up to that branch and she said, "I only help those who help themselves." So I whined and then found something else to do instead (things don't change much, huh?).

I think the lesson was that if I wasn't big enough to reach the first branch, I probably shouldn't be climbing the whole tree. But I've also heard that phrase a lot as an adult, worded like this: God helps those who help themselves. It's an interesting argument, easily misinterpreted, and not always applicable. However, I've been relying on it this Lent. I've applied to two different grad school programs and now I've done all I can. I have to sit back and wait and I'm sure hoping God's message is pretty clear regarding which, if either, to choose.

When I was perusing Screwtape Letters again for my church post, I came across the following lines written in response to the 'patient' starting a new church life, but also interestingly applicable to my Lenten journey in trust and surrender:
The Enemy (God) allows disappointment to occur on the threshold of every human endeavour... It occurs when lovers have gotten married and begin the real task of learning to live together. In every department of life it marks the transition from dreaming aspiration to laborious doing... Desiring their freedom, He therefore refuses to carry them, bu their mere affections and habits, to any of the goals which He sets before them: He leaves them to 'do it on their own'. And there lies our (the demons') opportunity. But also, remember, there lies our danger. If once they get through this initial dryness successfully, they become much less dependent on emotion and therefore much harder to tempt.
I don't believe in The Secret (what a creepy concept when you really look into it!), but I do believe that there are aspects of life in which you have to put "positive thoughts" or dreams or goals out into "the universe" (God's hands) and wait for them to return to you in a clearer form. Yes, God is capable of immaculate conception and parting the seas, but he loves it more when our free will leads us into His arms even on very little faith.

Sure, God could somehow get me into Midwifery school without me applying, but that doesn't make much sense. I have to put the work in first and evaluate my priorities and balance the pros and cons of my current job with the pros and cons of an Advanced Practice nursing job.  And after all, even Wayne Gretzky knows, "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take."

Ross and I put work into finding a good church (more work at some times than others when we were too lazy to get up on a Sunday). And we have finally been rewarded with a church home. We're only human and positive reinforcement works wonders. I have complete faith that God will bring a similar outcome with grad school and I have no doubt I'll end up right where I was meant to be.

I handed in my Nurse Midwifery application this morning and scheduled my first interview. My odds of getting in are fairly low, and it's a scary leap of faith to even admit I want this. But no matter the outcome, I am so glad I took the initiative.


  1. I hope you are pleasantly surprised Therese. I know you would make a very fine midwife from the sensitivity and compassionate you display in your posts. Thanks for reminding me that leaps of faith are what ALL brave people do. I need to do this myself. Deep breath... :)

  2. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Mel! I'm trying to live without regrets (meaning I need to stop regretting things that are over and done with as well as take proactive steps now so I don't regret missing out later). Always scary.