We were walking back down the hospital hall, and saw her boyfriend in the doorway. “Did you guys walk around the block?” “We actually walked to McDonalds. We’re just getting back.” She smiled and chuckled, and he responded “that’s something that I haven’t seen in a few days. You smiling.”
There was the woman who was a max assist to transfer to the commode. We were just finishing getting her back into the chair when family came in and told her that rehab had accepted her and she’d be transferring today. “You know, I’m glad that you’re going and getting started at rehab today” I winked, smiling. “I hear that it’s 50% off if you’re admitted on Black Friday.” Friends and family laughed.
There was the wife of the man intubated and mostly sedated who I evaluated, whose wife thanked me for talking to him. There was the woman struggling with her new diagnosis whose feet I washed and applied lotion to with care. Small, holy moments. Small, holy things.
That was just one day. It was a good day, just like most others.
It was not an ordinary night, however. My 10 year high school reunion was last night.
My debate record was the best in the league my freshmen and sophomore years. I won tournaments. I broke into elimination rounds at national tournaments. I took the AP classes and worked crazy-hard and set some curves, all while balancing doing 2 seasons of sport and contributing to the weekly school newspaper and chairing Youth Group at the Armenian Church. I had smart, driven, fun and ambitious friends. To be honest, they were smarter and better memorizers and much stronger at math, but essays and the ability to think quickly on my feet and argue a point made up for where I lacked. Also, preparation. And I was preparing for a law school education.
God got my attention in one of the few ways he probably could have. He derailed me. I got sick and I missed months of school. I lived with deep gratitude for time and breathing. I learned the value of loyalty. I realized how short life was, and I learned that God might want me to capitalize on qualities other than my intellect. That was the start of my looking for a profession besides law.
I’d be lying if I said that I looked around at that group of friends last night and didn’t notice that I was the only debater in my year who didn’t end up doing law at some top-tier school. And for an hour or two, I wanted the title. I wanted the prestige. I wanted people to know that I’m intelligent. I wondered if I lived up to my potential. International arbitrator sounds much sexier than occupational therapist. I wanted the intellectual validation that diploma provides.
But do you know what undoes all of that self-doubt? That I feel in my soul that God is proud of me for doing what He said to do. Fighting for what He wanted me to do. Doing what He made me to. Washing feet. Rehabbing a shoulder. Educating and spreading joy. Being a writing OT vs an 80-hour-a-weeker lawyer. Law can be noble, but not for the reasons why I wanted to do it.
I feel him saying it, that all Christ-followers are made to be joy-shifters. That, whether by our listening, our patience, our humor, our encouragement, our kindness, our serving heart, we were made to shift someone from sorrow or indifference into joy. I am where He wants me.
If you’re wondering if the path less travelled is the right one, check your intentions. Look at your gifts. Ask what God wants. Project whether it would make you a better person or worse. It turns out that I’m still on the right path.