Wait on the Lord

You may get back from vacation and head back to work slightly angry. Or a lot angry.

Treating your caseload may bring a feeling of dread rather than joy as you walk from one rude and/or refusing patient’s room to another.

You work through those times. You learn how to love, that it depends on God and not them, but sometimes the thoughts still wreck you: I was made for more than this. I’m not using my full gifting. All the hard work didn’t really matter. 

The overwhelming sense may haunt you. This isn’t what I thought my life would look like. After all, other times in your life, working hard and being dynamic had its rewards. You were chosen. You made the grade. You succeeded. But sometimes, you aren’t given the opportunity to succeed in the way you pictured right away.

You may gradually start to give up hope for anything different. You probably will not even realize that you had given up hope, until you regain a shred of it.

Because you, the academic high-performer who loves people and pursued a calling (not to mention completed kickass research and program development studies along the way) weren’t able to find an acute care job. Or a home health job. Or a pediatric job.

So yeah, you may eventually realize that sometimes you don’t get your dream job right out of school and start at the bottom. I don’t know how much lower it can get than a nursing home that the state almost shut down. That really only gets admissions that no one else will take. You only got that job because you went to a job fair. You work hard. You try to see the best, trust the best, do your best, and when all else fails, you read Ecclesiastes. If there’s a book of the Bible for a struggling employee, that’s it.

Thankfully, you have fun and hilarious rehab co-workers in the trenches with you.

Make no mistake, sometimes, working in certain places is like its own kind of war. It is a small kind of miracle that I have never dreaded going to work where I worked because of the other therapists there. Working with your best friends rocks.

You apply to a few jobs, but the phone never rings. One of the per diems who works at one place gets your application pulled. You interview, and it’s close, but you don’t get the job. You meet another person who likes you and worked for that hospital. She says she’ll talk to her boss when you apply next, but no jobs are posted. The false starts discourage you.

You start to trust that God did make you for more, but that it didn’t really involve your profession. You believe your purpose lies in other areas. You pursue those gifts. And you secretly doubt that God can overcome the reputation of That Facility in a hiring manager’s mind. Probably because you’ve seen recognition flit across faces.

You resign yourself to the fact that you may be a “skilled nursing facility OT” forever.

So you humbly serve. You change bedpans and bedsheets and briefs that the aides refuse to change. You learn how to see that severely impaired patient through God’s eyes. You are yelled at by aides. You learn how to function in a dysfunctional environment. You identify three strokes and one heart attack and run for the physician because the nurses tell you “they’re fine. It’s just a seizure” (just like that blood pressure you got of 70/35 was “really 110/70. You don’t know what you’re doing.” Thankfully the cardiologist and 2 nursing supervisors agree with you). You learn how to treat patients how Jesus would if he were an OT. Sometimes you fail. But you show up again Monday with grace and try again. You pray for and with patients. You see two healings as an immediate and direct result of prayer.

You get sucked into negativity. You learn how to not get sucked into negativity. You laugh with long-term care residents. You rejoice with the 60-70% of patients who go home. You ask Jesus to come with you through the halls. You snort beer up all over the bar with your boss. You love the therapists and are loved by them. And you wait. You learn that this life is so short in light of eternity. Suffering 80 years for a billion blissful ones in God’s presence is so worth it (-Jennie Allen). So you labor on in the place God put you, because He’s worth it, and you wait on the Lord.

Because God, He kind of likes waiting. He likes the fruits of it, which are surrender, trust, peace and thanksgiving. It’s knowing that your blessings and opportunities are not you, your decisions, or your personality. What you have, be it a main squeeze or a job or a child or a breakthrough, is because of God and His goodness. You learn to trust that what you don’t have, be it a main squeeze, a job you love, a child or a healing, are also because of God and His goodness.

Looking back now, I see the purpose of it all. Some of it I’ve known. Working in geriatrics was an unexpected blessing. I found out that I am much more patient than I ever thought possible. God humbled me. He taught me how to stay in the game, and how to make some of our most vulnerable laugh. And when I was transferred to the second SNF? I made best friends turned references. I could lean on co-workers in confidence as the fruit of 2.5 years of doing my best.

What the speech language pathologist had said used to sting me, as statements related to unfulfilled dreams often do. “Joyce, I’ve worked in pediatrics, geriatrics, acute care and private practice over 18 years. You are the best OT that I have ever worked with. Ever. You are just so functional and such a good teacher.” The feeling of untapped potential wasting away just ate at me. As did the desire for someone involved in hiring to see that someday. Why couldn’t they see that I was made for this?

But she put that and more on a reference, as did 5 other people eager to give reviews. And that dream of working at a small community hospital with a great boss and team was suddenly realized. The proximity was perfect, too.

If I had gotten those other jobs I wanted earlier, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity. This is a far better fit for me than either of those.

And now…I’m grateful for how God helped me embrace the everyday grace of being present where I was, finding joy in my toil, and pouring into people. And I’m giddy with excitement over how well He knows me and how carefully He orders my steps.

I will make my final decision on Tuesday based on the counter-offer. But, if they come up, which I expect they will…I think it will truly be a match made in heaven.

Wait on the Lord, because He has a plan. Wait on the Lord, because even if His plan is for you to remain where you are, He makes the journey more enjoyable and more fruitful. Wait on the Lord, because His name is written all over what’s in store for you. Wait on the Lord for the simple fact that He is worthy of nothing less than our best effort. That, combined with His Spirit, teaches us lessons we couldn’t have learned otherwise.

Wait on the Lord.