Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Day I Never Thought Would Come

Last year around this time, the Chair of my graduate program sent out an e-mail to the MSN students declaring that they were initiating a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) position and any grad student could apply. The job would entail 20 hours a week as a lab assistant and clinical instructor for the Accelerated BSN (ABSN) students. The perks were free tuition and a small stipend.

I was two classes into my Master's program, and I thought free tuition sounded awfully nice. So I applied on a whim, thinking I was far too unqualified to even be considered. But lo and behold, they called me for an interview. I left that interview feeling like an inexperienced nurse, incapable of being in an authority position over the extremely driven ABSN students. I was so shocked when I got an offer letter two days later that I accepted without thinking. I felt so lucky that I was getting free tuition for a whole year!

Oh, self. Didn't you know? Nothing in life is free.

But this launched my PLAN. A plan that quickly grew from a rough curriculum outline to a lifemap that I could not stray from, lest I non get what I want out of this life.

It didn't take long for the anxiety to set in. I could stand apart from myself in moments of clarity and laugh at the irony that I may not have watched all of those Mosby nursing skills DVDs when I was an undergrad, but I sure as heck had to sit through them now if I wanted to have a clue what I was talking about in skills lab!

But overall, to say that I felt an impending sense of doom by late February would not be an exaggeration. I knew there was no way I could survive the year with my sanity intact: the bouts of panic, the tears, the 60-hour workweeks + homework...

I was already unraveling when I received unwelcome and unexpected news in March. In one instant, I crumbled beneath the weight of all the things. One small mercy of that situation was that I had to got to let go of the plan. I was struggling to function from day to day and it only took one brief, embarrassing meeting with my advisors for all of us to see that a summer spent teaching intense ABSN clinicals in an unfamiliar unit was out of the question.

So I took 8 weeks off of school and teaching. I went to work and came home and read my Bible and journaled and went to counseling and got into a workout routine and God poured peace on me like I'd never known.

Literally the day I finally laid aside my delusions of playing catch-up on my meticulous plan and decided that I was okay with not finishing grad school any time soon, I got a phone call from my advisor, asking me to come back to my GTA position this fall. I was terrified, but I said yes because I had signed a contract in January and I wanted to fulfill it. Of course, to be a GTA, you also have to be a grad student. So I started classes again.

That means this fall brought busy and crazy and doubtful and heaping doses of humble and inadequate right back into my life. Thankfully, even though there have been a lot of tears and not a lot of sleep, I never quite reached the epic levels of panic I was dealing with last March. When I think back to my heavy heart last spring, my today heart hurts for that lonely girl looking for hope in all the wrong places.

This morning, I helped another teacher with one last lab checkoff. Then I walked out the doors of the nursing building into the welcome sunshine and just like that... a whole year flew by. Done.

If those walls could talk...

It wasn't pretty. It wasn't easy. I won't pretend I did this on my own strength. I also won't pretend that I was wholly surrendered to God every moment of every day. It's been more like a long game of tug-of-war! Yet somehow, with everything that I've messed up and all the selfish decisions I've made, I can't deny that God has been kind to me. In pain and in peace. He's instilling confidence in me slowly, carefully, and deliberately. He's teaching me to place hope in the right places and not in myself or my situation or in the opinions of others. 

He really drove this point home yesterday at our clinical wrap-up meeting. I finished up some paperwork with my students, all the teachers and the other GTA and I had a little dedication ceremony for the students, and then the students headed to the computer lab to fill out a program survey. I asked my advisor what I should do, and she said, "we're done, see ya!"

Um. What? No, Thanks so much for your selfless service. We couldn't have survived without you? No, Oh, remember that time you bawled your eyes out in my office? How's that situation working out for you? I was a little offended.

In one blinding moment of clarity, I saw my pride. As if that program was about me. As if. And even though I've said the words and seen it in my actions, I finally felt it: I really do think the world revolves around me. God knew he had to break me to show me. And what better time of the year to celebrate my need for a savior? It took me a year to see it.

P.S. The last two weeks have been fueled by sugar and coffee and I feel like I've aged 6 years in the last 6 months. But. As of today, I'm also halfway done with my MSN! 18 credit hours down, 18 to go. Now I would love to celebrate by sleeping for 18 hours!

1 comment:

  1. What a blessing God has been in your life, Therese !
    I am full of joy for you !
    Pray on......
    Love you, Mom