27 February 2013

In a Matter of Seconds

I’ll be honest…I’ve been running from God—running out of adamant anger & fear because I hate His plan; the inconceivable joy once inside me has vanished, with life-stealing perfectionism taking its rightful place. I know I shouldn’t, but a part of me is angry He’d call me to something so significantly over my head—then I hear His still small voice saying, “Chelsea, I have not called you to do this on your own; when you do, absolute frustrations and burn-out are well within your reach because you are not the exception, no matter how hard you try to convince yourself elsewise”. I’ll admit, I do like to think I am the exception to all the rules, as obvious in my quick return to competitive sports short after a seven hour spinal fusion and many other things I’ve so taken for granted; my stubborn will is my absolute downfall. As I see countless patients holding, indeed grasping desperately to the last speck of hope left, I question “Why me, God? What can I do?” As I devote all my time to studying yet my test scores seem to show elsewise due to the reality of many possible “correct” answers but only one chosen as the “most correct”, I wonder “Why even study?” Through today, as my life flashed before my very eyes, I am reminded that this life was not meant to be easy because if it were, there’d be no need for God; when life is comfortable & I feel I can get through it on my own nearly nonexistent strength, that’s when there’s a problem. God has not called me to live comfortably but instead recklessly devoted—yes, fully surrendered to Him.
God has strange ways of calling us back to Him but in all honesty, I don’t mind because at His feet is where I belong. This morning, as I prepared to receive my last required shot for clinical practice, never once did I anticipate what was about to happen. On my usual drive to the well-known Akron Children’s Hospital, the day seemed to be going smoothly—first red light that something must be wrong. It may have been pouring rain & utterly miserable outside, but I was used to these roads & thought nothing of it—just to be more alert. As I turned onto the last bend of the route I’ve worn a path on through my countless visits to Akron Children’s Hospital, it never occurred to me that I was about to literally leave my mark along this road. A huge semi with a flat bed and monstrous “backo” or “cherry-picker” strapped atop was diagonal to me in the other lane when before I knew it, he was crashing into my little and oh-so-faithful car Duke—the impact driving my head into the nearby window/dash where this truck & I had become one. The first thing that ran through my mind was, “No God, not now! I cannot afford to buy a new car with all of the skyrocketing nursing costs” & "I don't have time for this, but have to get home to finish my homework" (obviously oblivious to the fact He'd just spared my life); then fear overtook me as I’ve never been in an accident of any sort (aside from crashing our four-wheeler into a tree—oh yes, and the dreaded water pipe) and my family is literally thousands of miles away on vacation. Oh yes—and I was sitting along the dangerous streets of Akron, alone and vulnerable without any means of escape, and a large rough looking man heading my way. Shaking, I exited my car—the one he’d so effortlessly driven into & even atop the curb—with absolutely no idea what to do. I told him I’d never had anything like this happen before but I knew we needed to exchange information, so I got mine out & convinced him to do likewise; it was definitely no coincidence I’d stopped at Dollar General merely minutes prior to this event & happened to pick up a journal (ironically, on the cover it read, “Everything has beauty but not everyone sees it”) of which was now becoming drenched as I scribbled in the rain. He proceeded to tell me that his company had him working long hours & he had no idea where he was, so had been consistently looking for places to make a right hand turn in attempts to find a coffee shop—I guess this is what caused him to merge into my lane without any fore-warnings (I still wonder if he even looked since it happened so fast) and drive me into & above the curb just before a local business. After receiving my information and taking pictures of the car he’d trashed without any signs of concern, the man informed me he had to leave to deliver his equipment on time—I guess my health was the least of his concerns—and that I could drive my car home, despite the fact it was so obviously totaled. Knowing I couldn’t force him to stay and quite frankly being afraid to attempt to do so to such a large man, I somehow drove my car into the driveway following the curb he’d pushed me into/atop.  As I sat in the parking lot, alone in my un-drivable car with the rain pounding against us, all I could do was stare; once reality hit, I pulled out my cell phone and first dialed Akron Children’s Hospital to let them know I would be late, if not absent & why; as I explained what happened, tears welled up in my eyes as they calmly told me it’d be alright and that I should come to the Emergency Room to be checked out due to the hard impact, pounding headache and elevated abrasion covering my forehead—as much as I knew what may have been wrong, I refused to go by insisting I was fine & it was only a slight headache and bruise—after all, it couldn’t be that bad if I was able to walk. After hanging up, I proceeded to dial 911 for the first time in my life & began sobbing as they answered; I told them I’d like to report an accident & apologized for bursting into tears, after explaining I had no idea what to do, & they proceeded to ask where I was—the worst possible question for a person as bad with directions as I; I told them where I was, along with the local surroundings, & then waited…and waited for an officer to arrive. Upon waiting, I called the insurance agency & gave them the info I had, all the while sobbing yet again only to be comforted over the phone by the kind soul of an angel; she told me everything would be alright & said it wasn’t my fault (even though I was convinced elsewise)—that she’d do her best to take care of me. I could not have been more grateful for her inconceivable kindness—in fact, for everyone else’s throughout the day. Then I called my parents, despite the fact they were literally thousands of miles away, & began sobbing yet again as I told them the dreaded news...I'd been in my first accident; contrary to what I expected, they told me they were just glad I was ok & not to worry about the car--that it wasn't my fault. I am blessed with the absolute best family, who despite all of this informed me they were proud of my perseverance & taking responsibility, as well as just "being me". Upon hanging up, I then called my aunt, saying “You’ll never guess what just happened”—she guessed and so selflessly agreed to pick me up, since no one else was around, despite the fact she was in the middle of her work shift—yes, that’s how cool she is! As I put down the phone, noticing it’d been over thirty minutes since I’d dialed 911, a wild idea came to my mind: I knew very well where I was—merely several miles away from the place I’d once called my habitat for survival—so why not walk to this hospital & get my own cop? As I got all of my belongings out of my car, I locked it up & took off for my next adventure to Akron Children’s Hospital, alone & sopping wet along the streets of Akron—not my best move. As I power-walked along the side of the road, I came across an old African-American man (fear overtook me as I remembered where I was) who asked me how I was; I replied, “I’m alright—how are you?” only to hear him say “absolutely wonderful”; after rejoicing with him, I then said I was just in an accident & he so kindly said, “”Oh, that’s terrible; I am so sorry--that must have been traumatic” and that accidents happen all the time where it’d occurred. Once we parted ways, I walked through the ER doors of Akron Children’s Hospital & made my way to security to plead my case, only to be told they couldn’t help me. So, I ventured back into the pouring rain along the freshly trodden sidewalk, which seemed to only get longer as the seconds passed by. After arriving once again at my car, with no police in sight, I got in & started sobbing: how could anything else get worse? I decided to call 911 yet again, since there were no signs of any cops and my own attempt had fallen short—they immediately knew my crazy voice & said the cop hadn’t been able to find me, so I explained my surroundings yet again, since there was no address on the local building. Shortly afterward my exceedingly selfless aunt arrived, beckoning me into her heated vehicle with arms of love; seriously, at this moment a familiar face could not have been more needed! Being the go-getter that she is, my aunt courageously went into the building I’d been parked in front of, only to come back out with good news—there were people in there who could help! The owners/workers of this business absolutely overwhelmed us with hospitality and compassion, offering chairs & internet access as we waited—they even pulled up the “hit and run line” which we then called to once again report the accident as well as the information for the company the faulty driver worked for; shortly afterward, the kindest cop I’ve ever met arrived, making the experience even more beautiful—yes, I did say beautiful. As I gave him all the info I’d received, my aunt proceeded to call the company this man had been driving for in attempts to see if they knew his name; getting nothing out of them but the fact that he worked there & other things not worth repeating, I was left alone to write my “statement”; the cop was an absolute life-saver and without him, as well as my aunt and the kind business owners, I very well may have lost my sanity. The day ended alright & I even received several calls from Akron Children’s Hospital out of concern, reminding me yet again why I will always undoubtedly love this place! Akron Children’s Hospital—you will always hold a special place in my heart and for your unceasing kindness as well as quality care I will forever remain entirely grateful; one day I pray to do for others what you have done for me! And yes, I will be seeing you in a matter of hours, as I have agreed to come in (against my pride) to be checked out! “If God is for us, then what could ever stop us; if God is with us, then what can stand against?!”Through this all I am reminded that life truly is but a vapor & can disintegrate at any moment, so what am I living for? What really matters? If God has called me to a reckless life of abandon, even that being the medical field, then I will go because without Him I am nothing and entirely miserable. 

09 February 2013

Searing Pain

I’ve been running, indeed relentlessly sprinting as far away from God’s call as possible because my failures and complete incompetence haunt me, mercilessly dragging me back into their deplorable depths of annihilation; the pain I’ve become accustomed to has left me consistently on edge, assured life is too good to be true amidst the absence of pain because, after all, we were once the best of friends and impenetrably intertwined. When the world came relentlessly crashing down upon my helpless being, the one thing that stuck by my side was pain; its presence was never absent among the torture called life. So, when all things are “fine and dandy”, so to speak, I tend to run away out of adamant fear—because pain is no longer my companion and protector. This all sounds so twisted and completely warped, I can only imagine, but to a girl who has known pain—especially that of rejection—all her life, it makes absolute sense. Pain never rejected her but remained the one constant in life—the one thing she could wholeheartedly count on to stand beside her. After hearing from a young age that I’d never amount to anything—as hard as I fought against it, these cruel and life-stealing words remained instilled within my shattered mind, overtaking each crevice so as to never let me forget these lies; why would the God of the Universe pursue me—the least of these—amidst the rest, I still question? I want so desperately to be loved and accepted despite my countless faults and incompetencies, and to know most of all that I am worthy of love, apart from the all-too-comforting presence of pain—but when these very things are within finger’s reach, with all of my strength I turn to run the opposite direction because it seems to be a trap and my heart is too fragile to trust again. Yes, my mind is twisted and undeniably wounded but that certainly doesn’t make life any less real. A life without pain scares me to death because it’s all I’ve ever known.

Nursing school has been the greatest blessing yet my worst nightmare all at the same time; saving lives and spreading joy is a dream come true but the unknown chasms awaiting me along with the cluelessness accompanying has become my worst nightmare. I’m the type of person who likes to have things “all planned out” and organized yet at the same time spontaneity is my middle name, which makes for an ever-present battle. Yes, I know I specialize in making life harder than what it truly is but in my opinion, the easy way is less appealing and absolutely terrifying.

Countless hours of studying leave me exhausted and repulsed because sitting still is the exact LAST thing I enjoy doing but it’s become reality, as much as I hate and run away from it. I know that one day it will all be worth it and time will once again make its long-lost appearance in my life but impatience overtakes my fallen being, leaving resentment only to fester within the depths of brokenness. Sacrificing a past and what I once hoped to be future committed to whole-hearted and hard-core fitness does not come easily but indeed each moment far exceeds excruciation; giving up everything I once counted on for the sake of truly living may be excruciating but it’s the only way—what I was created to do. The Christian walk is a constant battle—a roller coaster ride—but when I arm myself in the Armor of God, losing is not an option. The hardest part is giving up control—especially when risking rejection once again.

Once again, I’ve been fighting the battle of life on my own despite the fact I know it’s impossible and the mountain completely insurmountable on my own insufficient power; my sinful flesh takes over, convincing me God’s abounding grace and love are too good to be true—that pain is what I was created for. Some days I am too weak to fight back against these lies but when I am too weak to stand, God carries me and protects my nearly lifeless heart. My miniscule mind may never comprehend why He never ceases to pick me up right where I am and mend the shattered pieces into an image of beauty, but for now I will rest in the calm assurance that I do not need to know—that the unknown is a beautiful thing.