(Read the start of this journey in Part 1)
When my hope was shattered, I had to rely on my faith to carry me through. I wasn’t giddy-excited about the thought of having another baby yet, I hadn’t fully embraced the lifestyle change the next 9 months and beyond would bring, but I had to believe I would get there. In time.
And since 9 months seemed like more than enough time, I decided to just take in what each day would bring–meaning, I tried to delay making any definitive steps towards preparing for the pregnancy. I knew I would eventually have to start weaning my baby off breastfeeding, but I hadn’t taken any steps towards introducing formula. I knew I had to make a decision about what to do with fellowship, but I chose not to withdraw my application. I would come clean, of course–disclose that I was pregnant on the very first day of pre-fellowship–then I would work just as hard as I would have without the pregnancy. In my head, I was still exhibiting my trust in God, surrendering to His will. If I got accepted, then it was by God’s grace. If not, then I would accept that God wanted me to take another year off. It was humble submission, spiritual indifference, total surrender.
A few days before Christmas, I paid a visit to one of my mentor-physicians and updated her on my life’s latest developments. After the initial “Congratulations!” and “Each child is a blessing,” she asked, “So, you’re taking another year off?” When I explained my plan of still going through the rigors of application, she looked at me with a puzzled expression on her face. “But…you can’t prepare the drugs.” (My application was for a fellowship in Medical Oncology, a program which entailed mixing drugs for chemotherapy–a task not permitted for pregnant women.)
It stunned me to hear her say it with such authority, such finality. I can’t prepare the drugs–how could I evade performing not just an essential skill that must be learned, but a responsibility expected of a fellow-in-training? I knew about the hazards of chemotherapy preparation during pregnancy, but I had convinced myself that there was a way to get around it…somehow. Hearing her say it so plainly made me realize that my planned course wasn’t guided by surrender–it was blinded by denial. I knew the pregnancy meant taking another year off, but I didn’t want to have to make that decision myself. I wanted fate to hand it to me; I wanted my circumstances to show me which direction to go. Let the training committee decide–not me, not God.
What an insult to a God who wishes to speak directly to my heart.
In an effort to surrender (for real, this time) and accept His will, I scheduled an appointment with the head of the Oncology Department at the hospital where I applied. If I was going to do this, I was going to do this right–ask her to hold on to my application for the following year, and do so in person. But in the back of my head, a tiny voice was still whispering, “What if she offers a way for me to work around the bits I cannot do? Will that change my mind?”
On the day of the appointment, I sat down to pray. “Lord, I want to hear You speak. I want to be led not by my circumstances, but by Your voice in my heart. Tell me what to do, where to go, and that is where I will be.” The Bible-reading guide I was using pointed me to a passage in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, starting with the first verse of chapter 4.
Lead a life worthy of the vocation to which you have been called. –Ephesians 4:1
My vocation: the service I desired to render unto God, and the service He asked of me.
That afternoon, I told the department head that I would be back for next year’s application period. For now, I had a family to take care of.
And a God I must serve.
(The journey ends in Part 3.)