As of today, I finished my last test of my first year of nursing school. The past year has been one of the most challenging and yet the most rewarding years of my life. Between having a test and a 12 hour shift almost every week and balancing relationships in my own personal life, I know I have become a completely different person from the individual that I was last August.
I have held the hands of laboring women, washed the feet of fading elders, carried babies who were less than 5 hours old, and talked through grief and loss with those struggling with life and death.
In my own life, I have experienced new challenges, new foods, and new places. I have felt difficult change and loss, as well as success both in my academics and in personal goals.
Being in nursing school is a unique experience that I think is hard to understand if you have not been a part of it. Nursing school required literally all of me. My time, my energy, my focus, and my priority almost 24/7. It has been absolutely draining in more ways than one.
My experience in this program was a little different than the typical route that most people take. I was blessed to be a part of a program that allowed me to complete my first year of graduate nursing school as a senior in college. Because of this, I struggled to balance my life as an undergraduate, my life as a graduate student, and my life outside of school. I felt that I was living three different lives for most of the year. It was a year spent constantly torn between celebrating senior year with my undergraduate friends, spending time with those who were not in school, and studying for the test I had the following week on cardiac conditions.
As overwhelming as it all was, it’s nice to be done with the first year of a new phase in my life. It still hasn’t quite set in for me that I will be in potentially my final year of school for awhile starting this fall. The next year is going to be one huge adventure because I will be spending the year in three different cities! These plans are not quite hammered out yet, but over the next few months I will be figuring out where the Lord is taking me this year.
It’s going to be a huge year of growth, change, and building community. I’m going to have to rely on the Lord for everything from friends and community to finding new churches in the cities I visit and then finally to preceptors that I can serve under. It’s not going to be easy, and I know this. As much as my head knows this (and many things in life), my heart is still going to struggle with the day to day emotions of doubt, loneliness, and fear. I’ll experience failure; I’ll accomplish my goals; and I’ll be one step closer to being the person that I am slowly becoming.
But I’ll also experience the Lord deeper, and I’ll experience Him fuller than I have before. I can feel it. This year, I will have to trust in Him for everything.
One of my dearest friends recently moved to Washington, D.C.. She gave up her job, her home, and moved to a brand new city because she felt that it was the right thing for her to do. When I spoke with her soon after she moved, she told me that her verse of the year was Proverbs 3:5. A verse that most of us know. It’s still written on my mirror in my room from when she told me to remember it.
“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.”
I feel that it might be one of my mantras for the next year! I don’t understand a lot of what the Lord does (even though I try to figure it all out), but I am learning to trust in Him for my peace, my direction, and my steps moving forward.
With all of these changes, I’m sure it seems hard to imagine how I’m going to grow in the Lord without a single constant root system or a community present with me daily. Finding community is something that I have struggled in over most of my life because of my insecurities, my personal judgements, and my difficulty being vulnerable. For this reason, traveling a lot doesn’t really seem like the logical and rational decision.
But the church and our communities lie more than just in the locations that we live in. In fact, a large majority of our church doesn’t live in the same city that we do. In difficult and unique ways, moving to a new place forces us to live in God’s grace and live in His community until we find brothers and sisters to share it with us in our city. Something that I have learned over the past year is that even though God will bring it to us, we have to put in the work to connect, to love, and to spend time with others. I don’t always do it well, but it’s important to recognize that unless we leave our house to go to church, we can’t connect at the church. Unless we forgo a few of our solo Netflix nights to go to a friend’s game night, we won’t make friends. Friendships and community often require connection and work.
Additionally, there is the added bonus that technology today allows us to connect over oceans and miles. I’m able to talk with my family almost daily, and speak with my friends who are working internationally, and we still talk about our walks with the Lord and the things that we are facing in our daily life. Even though being present in a situation is powerful, recognizing that these relationships exist helps to ease into new communities fluidly.
I’m itching for a new adventure, and I’m itching to stand in the Lord’s grace for a year of exploring what the Lord’s plan for me could be. I’m ready to learn how to make deep friendships quickly and how to enjoy the uncertainty of not having plans past a few months at a time. As many of these plans unfold, I hope that they are a testament of God’s grace and goodness not only to those around me, but also to my broken and stubborn heart.