Tag Archives: self-doubt

It's hard to imagine almost a whole month off, but here I am at the end of the third of four terms of Associate Degree Nursing School, with no classes until January 2nd of next year.

This has been a monster week for me, and I must confess the disturbance has not fully given way to sabbatical just yet with final exam grades yet to be posted and some health issues being investigated today. There was little doubt that I would pass my class going into the final exam since, according to my obsessive calculations, I only need a 46% on that test to achieve a passing overall grade (76% gets me a B, and an A is not possible since it would require 111%). Grades are expected to post some time this week.

Just one week ago, I was on an ego roller coaster, receiving word that I had been accepted into the honor society for associate degree nursing students just before the news that I had failed a previous exam. A dear friend stunned me when she responded to my report with a commendation. Here is the exchange:

Me: I failed (the exam) but God owns the outcomes.

Friend: Yes he does. His ways are so interesting. I'm so happy that your outlook has changed. It was painful to see you flog yourself after a perceived fail. Thank-you for letting me see another miracle today. I love you brother.

I often hear it said that one can make a mistake without claiming they are a mistake. Apparently God is bringing about a transformation in me significant enough to align me with the grace in that statement. I have exercised application of that principle to "mistakes," but the word "failure" resists adherence to the same rule. I am slowly coming to recognize that I can fail a test, whether written or lived, without being a failure. Nursing school is certainly teaching me that, since I have failed several written exams over the course of this venture, and still God has managed the outcomes so that I was inducted Monday into the Alpha Delta Nu Honor Society. Miraculously, even the failure of a week ago was turned around after a faculty review of the exam.

Somehow, the obsessive perfectionist in me refuses to die, and yet I can say with ultimate certainty that there is no such thing as a satisfied perfectionist. Einstein's definition of insanity feels far too fitting: "doing the same thing over again and expecting different results." Furthermore, if I insist on condemning myself even while my Heavenly Father extends me grace, then the wrong one of us is in the Judge's chair. I was reminded this week that, no matter how often I dethrone and place myself at God's feet, the Good Father is never content to leave me there, but gently lifts me up onto His lap and celebrates my sonship which I did not earn, but which He bought at great price. The ultimate irony is that in relationship with Heavenly Papa, I am elevated higher and more securely than I could ever be sitting alone on a throne meant for the Master of the universe.

ADN Induction with term 3 professor, Dr. Sandra Taylor
Last day of Term 3 clinical with Professor Chelsa Fore
My precious bride, Cindy, came to celebrate the occasion of my ADN induction.
My dear friend and sister from another mister, Sarah
My dear friend and classmate from prior terms, Emily
Eryn and Kelly, my clinical and study partners. They keep me young, along with Ashley (not pictured).
Eryn is my clinical partner, study buddy, and closest friend in class. This term wouldn't have been what it was without a friend like her.

I'm having a hard time knowing where to stand between a position of faith and one of humility and diligent stewardship. On one hand, I know that I need to let go of every aspect of control in order to let God have complete rule of my life. On the other hand, I am told to be diligent, to strive after knowledge and wisdom with everything I have, and to pursue learning as a precious jewel. Every time I share my concern about Wednesday's final exam I am met with well-meaning statements of faith: "Oh you know God will be there for you," "You've got this, and there is no reason to worry," "Oh, I'm not even concerned because I know God will give you the grade you need." I just can't be so presumptuous to expect God will do everything I want Him to do every time I want Him to do it that I shirk my responsibility to diligently study.

I'm reminded of Daniel's friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who were thrown into the fire. Before their date with the furnace, they exclaimed that the God of Heaven was able to deliver them, but that even if He didn't they would never bow to the idol (Daniel 3:16-18). I want to stand like that, completely assured that God is capable of getting me through this and delivering the miracle I believe I need, but content to know that, even if He doesn't, I will walk in His way for me.

To put it more in terms of Elijah, I believe that the altar has been built, the trench has been dug around it, the wood and the offering have been saturated, and the ground all around is soaked with water (1 Kings 18:30-39). What I need now is fire from Heaven to come and blaze for the glory of God in my grade-book. But even if God chooses instead to administer a lesson of patience and humility, I will walk in His way for me.

victoryPraise God! My Nursing School acceptance letter has arrived. Thank you for all the prayers.

I have an amazing encouragement support network. Even my postal clerk was vigilantly checking my box, eager for the chance to congratulate me upon receiving this good news. As I opened the large white envelope with all the enthusiasm of a child at Christmas, I was surprised to find that a congratulatory greeting was not the first thing out of the package. Where I would have expected it was a laundry list of things to do, prove, and buy, along with very strong warnings not to miss deadlines which were emphatically repeated in multicolor boldface. About three pages back was a letter that began with the word “congratulations” but the context was even less celebratory than its position in the packet or its peculiarly small and plain font.

“Provisionally accepted” are the terms which describe my current status. They hit me like Mother’s “maybe” (if you can remember those). Some of the provisos about which I have no concern are a background check, fingerprinting, and drug screening, but the one that slows my hallelujah roll is the physical exam. I was almost excluded from being a police officer decades ago because of a spinal condition of which I had no knowledge and even since have had no symptoms. Since then I've aged a bit and lost enough of my hearing to require correction. This struggle with a stethoscope seems far more relevant than whether my vertebrae connect to the tailbone. Perhaps it is in my human nature to be cautious before celebration, or perhaps it is just plain doubt, but either way, my prayer warriors should know to shift from focusing on the acceptance letter to the tedious processing that now follows.

I have ordered most of my supplies and uniforms, have submitted my drug screen sample and fingerprints, and am checking off my to-do list as I go. There will be a basic skills pre-test at our orientation, November 15th, and I am studying for that, brushing up on fractions, ratios, learning how many drops are in a milliliter, how to convert milliliters to teaspoons and tablespoons, and things like that.

Meanwhile, Cindy is on her Walk to Emmaus (a weekend spiritual experience, similar to a retreat but with too many differences to call it one), so I'm playing the bachelor at home, trying to ready the place to surprise her when she returns. In between trying to find a men's nursing shoe and properly size myself up for white scrubs, I’m cleaning and repairing to beat the band, and praying fervently for her and the other lady pilgrims on her walk.

I was confronted with a very basic principle during a chapel visit on my walk last weekend. I confessed to those with me that I have a basic fear of not being enough. As I worked it out in meditation, God reminded me that I most certainly am NOT enough, but that no man is. “All…have fallen short” (Romans 3:23, excerpted for emphasis), “but,” God seemed to continue, “I AM!” So the passage in Romans continues, “and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24, NIV). I am redeemed, not just from sin and its eternal consequence, but from failure, from not measuring up, from falling short of the glory of God. Who am I to counterfeit the glory of His perfection anyway? I don't have to impersonate the Victor. His victory is already mine by His grace! My sufficiency is not in my bones, my ears, my aptitude, or my grand plans, but in Christ Jesus alone. There’s my hallelujah roll!

Thanks, everyone! Please keep praying.

- Todd