I remember sitting in my dorm room, the letter flipping down in my limp hands. Failure. Not good enough. Not smart enough. I picked wrong. My score. I didn’t really care about that all that much. My face was flushed and my heart pounded because soon my secret would be out. Everyone would ask and then everyone would know. I’m not good enough. It’s all fake. I’m a fraud. I failed.
My backup was sketchy at best. I didn’t know any real information. I just knew my first choice wasn’t great so what’s my next choice. So I tried my second choice. I got so close. SO SO CLOSE. But then four times I was told “no”. Ironically some even asked why I didn’t go with my first choice. The knife went in deeper.
Fine. What’s the real difference. What’s the real difference between the first and the second choice? I pulled out markers, made pro cons list. And then figured it out. Money and Title. That’s the difference. The goals and tasks and “get-to-do” were pretty much the same. So I wanted One for Money and Title. ouch.
So I swallowed. And said, OK. Let’s do Two. Let’s go ALL IN.
And then I did. I was affirmed over and over that Two was better and Two was right.
So I started grad school. Knowing if God really humbled me enough to get me here, I’ll do it. I worked my butt off. I never missed, I tried my HARDEST. For two years I never breathed. And God won. He somehow took my impossible tiny brain and packed stuff in and passed my tests. He insistently kept me there. And I walked away with a degree.
I quickly found out I loved working with the hard patients. Not hard as in complex, but as in the hard broken people. People who really needed medical care. The people who I may be the only smile they see all day. Those patients. Well. I tried. And I just felt like I was drowning again. Just floundering. I was just out of school and I felt like I was making it all up.
And then God wanted to move us. And we said no. And then he whispered it again and again. And we said no no no. And then he finally yelled it. (matt’s boss called) “You need to relocate or you’ll lose your job“. (next day call to me) “want to work with me, I think my clinic is hiring?”. Ok God. Don’t strike us with lightening. We will move.
My clinic was good. In the next four years, I learned more than I had in all my schooling. People mentored me, patients were kind. I formed relationships. And restlessness started happening. Each year the same whisper. This is good. Too good. What about people who aren’t able to have this goodness? Who is helping them? I loved my career. I had no real good reason to change my job. So I kept on. The whisper happened, every few months, but nothing seemed to motivate me to change.
And then it did. The whisper suddenly yelled. It yelled so loudly, my friend Michelle heard it too. Take a risk. Take a risk. The least of these. The least of these. They need YOU.
Fine. So I quit. With nothing else I quit. And the yelling stopped. It was silent for a month. Just stillness.
WHAT?! I QUIT for you. Hello. Some help would be nice.
Fine. I have this gift. I KNOW I have the gift. For THE LOVE YOU GAVE ME THE GIFT. I shouldn’t have chosen number Two. I shouldn’t have passed the tests. I shouldn’t have gotten to THIS spot. YOU did all those things. So help me out.
My pride. Don’t ask me not to work. Don’t make me stay at home. I’m not her. My pride was bleeding. It bled for four weeks. And then finally I said OK. I became still. I became calm. I embraced it. If it’s Him then it must be OK even if it hurts. It’s not about me.
Then the echo came back, but it was even less than whisper. Really just a feeling. I’ve accepted being at home, but I have this gift, so maybe I’ll volunteer. I’ll be OK giving up even more and I’ll simply use what I have for the least of these. I reached out. 20+ emails. ONE came back asking to meet me.
I walked away with a job offer.
After four days on the job they asked me if I wanted to stay even longer.
Because I had found my Africa. My place that is the least of these. The broken, the ignored, the marginalized, the neediest, the criticized, the laughed at, the desperate. I found the reason, for right now, that God set me up with option TWO, and moved us HERE, and KEPT us here.
These people. His people and now my people. They are beautiful. Probably the beautifulest people around. Any other time, my pride would have laughed and said no way. My cynicism would have embraced sterotypes and judgement. I would have been a terrible provider to them. But He waited until I was formed and ready. He had molded me, sometimes with a bit of force, to get ready for this chapter. And now, when I walked into it, for the first time, I was ready.
For the least of these.
Love. Listen. Care. Provide.