By Becky Shields
Recently, after taking a 12-year hiatus, I re-entered the work force. This was not something I was looking for and certainly came at an unexpected time. This was not something that I had a great desire to do. This was not even something that I ever thought that I would do again! I had enjoyed my career while it lasted but I was perfectly content being at home, schooling my youngest, volunteering at church, and acting as an Uber driver for my high schooler. I’ve loved being a stay at home mom intimately involved in my children’s lives. No part of me felt like I needed something more. If I have learned anything in the past few months, it’s often when we become complacent and comfortable that God calls us to something unexpected.
If I have learned anything in the past few months, it’s often when we become complacent and comfortable that God calls us to something unexpected.
And so He did with me.
After a series of events that only God could have orchestrated, I suddenly found myself with a reinstated nursing license and a job.
So many things changed when the world changed.
Back in March when the COVID-19 Crisis began, I was listening to one of Maryland Governor Hogan’s press conferences. In the midst of his speech, I heard him announce that he had written an executive order, which would allow nurses like me who had let their license lapse to renew them without taking the refresher class typically required. I filed the idea away in my mind but did not have any real intention of pursuing that path.
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. – Psalm 143:8
About a month later, my dad was scheduled for major surgery. He would not be permitted to have visitors in the hospital because of the COVID-19 precautions in place. This was upsetting news and I wondered if the hospital would make an exception if the patient had a personal nurse dedicated to staying with him or her for the entire length of their stay. That day, I wrote an email to the Board of Nursing asking what it would take to reinstate my nursing license.
It was several weeks later when I received a reply. What I had heard from Governor Hogan was indeed true. I was able to renew my license with only minimal effort and did so immediately.
Unfortunately, possessing a nursing license did not help me in my efforts to stay with my dad but it did help me realize how fortunate I was to have obtained it without having to go through the typical steps required. I also realized that in order to keep that license active, I would actually need to find a job. This was a daunting task! Who in their right mind would be willing to hire a nurse who had not practiced in 12 years? Did God really want me to go back to work?
God provides answers in the most unexpected places.
I soon had the answer to that question. One day in July, I took my daughters to their annual appointments. Both of my girls still see the same pediatrician they have seen since birth, which happens to be the same pediatrician I worked for years ago when my three oldest were babies. I casually mentioned to the doctor that I had renewed my license and if they were ever hiring, I would be interested in pursuing a job in their office. Just like that, I was hired on the spot and I was suddenly scheduled to begin work the following week! To say this was unexpected would be an understatement.
I thought back to a conversation I had with a friend only months earlier. She had asked if I believed I would ever return to nursing. My answer to her came quickly and without much thought. I told her I sincerely doubted that I ever would. While I missed some aspects of the career, I didn’t feel the loss all that much. I didn’t feel equipped to work as a nurse any longer and I honestly felt no one would want to hire a nurse who had been out of the field for so long. So many things had changed.
But God had different plans and knew just what I needed.
What I experienced when I began working was the complete opposite.
As I donned my scrubs that first day, I dreaded what I was about to do. I was returning to work because I felt obligated. I knew it was the right thing to do but it was not at all what I wanted to do. I felt so out of sync with the things that I once knew. I wondered how the other doctors in the office (the ones that I had worked with before but had not seen for years) would feel about my return so many years after I had left. I worried that I would be looked down upon for not keeping my skills current. But most of all, I worried I would not love the job as I once had.
We often let fear of the unknown hold us back from the plans God has for us.
At first, it did feel awkward to be in the office. While some things were familiar, I had to work hard to remember how to do tasks that were once second nature to me. Because of the masks now required at all times, many of the docs I had worked with in the past didn’t recognize me at first. The office had stayed current with the times and updated all of their systems. Years ago, I had written on paper charts. Now everything was computerized. I found myself wondering why I had ever believed that I could just return to a job I had been away from for so long.
But then something amazing happened. The doctor who had initially hired me, my girls’ pediatrician, showed up. She was excited to see me. She welcomed me back with open arms, encouraged me, and told the staff how much she had loved working with me in the past. She assured me I would learn all of the new systems in time and that there would always be people to help me when I stumbled.
The other nurses and doctors were also very welcoming. They were interested in what I had been doing with my time, encouraging, and helpful when I felt lost.
I was rediscovering my passion.
Between the friendly welcome that I had received from the office staff and the confidence I gained from performing tasks that seemed foreign at first but then quickly came back to me, I rediscovered my passion for nursing. I soon looked forward to going to work each day!
One day as I was driving to work, I reflected on my experience thus far and it occurred to me there were quite a few parallels between my “break” and subsequent return to my nursing career and my spiritual life.
Life is full of seasons, some better than others.
There are seasons in which I am completely and fully in love with studying God’s word. Seasons where I can hardly wait to wake up each morning and read my Bible to learn what the Lord has to say to me each day. It’s in these seasons I find myself putting other things aside so I can read and study in order to grow closer to God.
Unfortunately, there have been other seasons as well. Seasons where I am too busy and put my study time aside. It becomes too easy in these busy seasons to make excuses for not reading God’s word daily. In these seasons, I put other interests and demands first, and I lose my passion for spending time with my Creator.
The beauty is revealed when obligation turns into passion.
Getting back into the habit of a daily quiet time is much like my experience re-entering the nursing field. At first, I feel obligated to do it. Just as I knew that renewing my license and finding a job would be beneficial to my family financially and to my future in general, I know that spending time in God’s word is what’s best for me spiritually. But I also feel awkward. It’s hard to know where to start. I wonder what God is going to think about me suddenly turning to Him again after ignoring Him for so long. I feel inadequate, like I’m not fully equipped to understand what I read and learn.
But then God….
He meets me in that awkwardness. He welcomes me with open arms. He freely teaches me things about Himself, and subsequently about myself and He doesn’t do so grudgingly. He meets me as if He has been waiting for me the whole time that I’ve so been distant. Though it’s difficult at first, if I continue to show up to study and learn, I find that my passion for Him is rekindled. My love for Him is even deeper than I remembered and spending time with Him becomes a privilege instead of an obligation.
Now each morning as I step into my nursing scrubs I am reminded not only how much I love the career I am trained to do, but also how much I love and am loved by a God who will always be there for me. A God who is patiently waiting for me to reassess my priorities when they get out of sync, One who will never run out of things to teach me about Himself.
What season are you in?
If you are experiencing such a time your life, know that the same God who has faithfully met me in my unexpected desert places is waiting to meet you in yours. He knows you and loves you and waits for you to sit with Him. Your priorities may have become skewed, but He has not gone anywhere. Open your Bible, read from His word, and rekindle the passion you once had…or discover a passion you have not yet had. Either way, I promise you will be blessed!
Feature Photo by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash
Stand Up, Shake Off the Dust, Straighten Your Crown, and WALK FORWARD CONFIDENTLY GROUNDED IN TRUTH!
Hi! My name is Becky. I’ve been married to my best friend, Bill for 22 years and, with God’s help we are raising four amazing children. There are many things that can be said about me. Some good and some not so great. None of that matters in the long run though. The most important thing that I want anyone to know about me is that I am a sinner who has been saved by the extraordinarily generous grace of Jesus Christ. Anything that I have accomplished in my life is due to Him and I try not to dwell on my failures because He has redeemed them. My greatest desire is to live my life in such a way that people will want to know the Jesus that I love so much. My prayer is that my writing will point them in that direction.
Straighten Your Crown is a place to find encouragement grounded in Biblical truth to navigate the challenging circumstances we encounter in a broken world.