Thursday, March 29, 2012

On Safety, Stretching, and Studying

I've thought all week about what I would say here today.  How I would balance a need to "talk" out loud and process the things that have gone on in the last couple of weeks with a need to recognize that words have power, and that some of the people who read here from time to time don't know me well.  Basically I'm wrestling just a little bit with the reality that some of the people I know in real life read here, are new here, and I'm wondering if this space is safe.

It's funny that - it had just begun to feel safe again, after a long time of choosing words carefully because of numerous painful situations in my life.  And now, I wonder again.  I wonder about my decision to integrate this space with my daily life by making it visible on facebook.  It means my audience isn't always the group of spiritual explorers and travelers that it has been in the past.  It means that classmates, that people who know me only via other connections, have suddenly found themselves here, in this, my most intimate of spaces.  The place I've thought and processed and wrestled and questioned and celebrated and mourned in. The place that has been my place of safety for nearly seven years.

And so I started writing, still not knowing what to say, exactly, about the last week or so of my life.

School has been hard.  Some of the dynamics have been immensely challenging for me personally.  In my mind they reached a climax of sorts last week, via some tactics that felt contrived and manipulative.  It's never a happy thing for someone who thinks and feels deeply, but speaks slowly, to find themselves in a situation where they feel cornered, put on the spot.  The way I express myself in that situation is less reminiscent of the me that has worked to heal, to grow, over the last five years, and more reminiscent of me as a terrified child.  In those sorts of situations I generally can't speak without crying, and my filters of appropriate behavior don't work quite as well as I wish they would.  And cry I did.  Multiple times over. With an audience.  I spoke in ways that weren't as diplomatic or caring as I would have preferred, and I felt forced into speaking in those sorts of ways while an instructor was present.  It was pretty much my nightmare, and I spent a good deal of the weekend processing it.

I'm still processing it.  I've moved from being shell-shocked to angry, and maybe, just a little bit, in the last day or so, to a sort of tired resignation.  There are 8.5 days of classes left in the semester.  I actually wasn't counting, but a friend is, and she shared that number.  That number made me smile.  The end of this first phase of my nursing education is in sight.

I spent a lot of the weekend wondering if I was cut out for this - if I misheard as I listened and prayed and sought God's heart those few years back, when I was suddenly out of work and needing to know what I "wanted to be when I grew up."  It's a terrible feeling, to be so discouraged that something you've invested so much of yourself into is called into question.  I spent two years working to get in to this program, and ten weeks in, I've spent a number of days asking myself if that is a mistake.  Asking myself if I will be a failure as a nurse.

I was all set, in my ponderings this week to end this post in that place - in that place of wondering and discouragement.  But on Sunday I watched a DVD about birth that a midwife friend loaned to me.  Something about that video spoke to my heart, reminding me of a piece of why I'm taking this program. (Have I mentioned that I am exploring and very interested in working in a clinic overseas somewhere, and doing midwifery training while using my nursing skills?)  That reminder dissipated quickly on Tuesday, when I literally went home and cried (I wasn't the only one from my group, either.  Our sarcastic comments about tears and needing wine at the beginning of the semester are fast giving way to reality!)  Wednesday was just a little bit better.  It brought reasons to smile - things like bubble baths, news of a new honorary nephew's arrival, and a day at school that wasn't quite as hard.  It had text messages that reminded me that I am upheld in prayer, and it had a chance to gather with some leaders from other house churches.  It even had a few unexpected minutes of quiet to simply sit.

I don't know what the rest of the 8.5 days of class remaining will hold, I really don't.  I'd be lying if I said that there isn't a part of me working hard not to dread them.  But there is a bigger part of me that is continually reminded and reminding myself that I am where I am supposed to be.  That stretching hurts but results in growth.  That things will not always be like this.  And that I am made to do this - to work in profession that promotes healing, caring and compassion.  And some days I have to remind myself of that.  That and the fact that I have done lots of hard work to get to where I am.  That I am only responsible for my own words and choices, and though they're hurtful at times, I can't own what others say and do.  That I am coming more fully all the time into who I am created to be.  And that I am allowed to be independent, to think and feel deeply, and sometimes even to disagree.  And that that's okay.  Because there, too, I only own me - no one else.

So, I head into this day praying for joy, and feeling just a bit more bolstered in that than I have some days this week.  It's a long day, 8-10 hours of group work, actually, and that scares me just a little, but I'm ready.  My heart is reveling in a picture of a new little boy, in the encouraging words of people who know me, in the knowledge that I am loved, and that self reminders of God's calling and work in my life. I'm going to live this day in the best way I can - honestly, richly, and deeply, leaning into the reminder that (like a sermon I listened to yesterday said) "I am Jesus' favorite."  That silly little phrase makes me smile, and that alone makes it worth leaning into.


terri said...

i'm with you. every word. i totally resonate with everything you've said here. i hope this phase of schooling flies by and gives way to something that resonates more for you.

i have some fairly solid connections with a program in haiti that might be really in line with what you're aiming to do. let me know if you want more information...

Lisa said...

Thanks Terri! I was somewhat comforted to discover that after the events of last week, more than half of my group was questioning whether nursing was right for them. That made me feel far less alone, and also more confident in my feelings about the particular way our instructor handled certain things to create that feeling in so many of us.

And as for Haiti - yes, yes, yes!! Haiti is definitely on my radar - a couple midwife friends of mine know a program there that I'm interested in... I've forgotten the exact name - I read a blog from them... would be quite funny if you have connections with the same program. So, yes, I'd love more info. Facebook or email me :)

Lisa said...

(And by - Haiti is on my radar, what I mean to say is that it has somehow, though I've never yet been, found a spot in my heart, and is on a list of countries that I would be very interested in exploring the chance to serve in...)

Jenny said...

Hi Lisa

sorry to hear there have been some downs. Though I've never studied nursing or a health profession, I suspect what you're going through is normal in a demanding program, especially when coming to the end of a semester of new things to learn, a new place to be, new people who aren't so new any longer. This isn't to minimise at all your feelings and experience, but to offer some comfort.

I think anything one cares about engages the emotions in a particular way, especially when it's a matter of vocation and calling. It's a sign that you care about what is happening - we have feelings for a reason. It's high stakes, in a way.

Am glad that you are processing - that you've discovered similar feelings amongst your colleagues. We are never alone. Just recently I had to smile when telling someone about the discomfort I felt in a difficult work situation - she asked, did I think she never felt discomfort? I am not an island, I discovered all over again!

Blessings to you - God will not let you down.

Cheering for you on this journey, from over the seas.

JM x