(This post isn’t just for graduates, this is for anyone thinking about change, experiencing change, or awakening to the wonder of change as our desires, goals and dreams revolve throughout life, especially as we come to know our deepest purpose. No matter what stage or season of life you are in, advanced in years or not, these words apply to all.)
Doctor was a favorite game of mine when I was little.
I took my 36 stuffed animals and stethoscope in hand with my 6+ years and older doctor kit and proceeded to fix up all my “broken” stuffed animals. From bears to horses to alien-like creatures that used to look like cherub doll faces, I wrapped elbows and performed heart checks to all the unsuspecting patients I could find. I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up at the ripe ‘ole age of 8. I wanted to be a Veterinarian.
Senior year of high school, I was confident I would enter the medical field one day. Although I wasn’t a huge fan of Chemistry (I even failed a Chemistry class in college), I knew my heart to help others with their health was my desire. Admittedly, I also knew I wanted to make a lot of money and be very successful, so of course, I had to find a career to follow suit.
At the local hospital down the street, I job-shadowed a medical professional and watched as she studied the black and white images on a bright lit screen. Her skill at noticing the tiniest differences in the images on that screen charmed me. My interest in this field grew as I saw the respect she maintained through her title, the confidence she portrayed in her abilities to diagnose, and the way she was able to make assertions for things and everyone bowed down to her direction. Perhaps this was more a personification of who she was rather than her title, however… I wanted to be a Radiologist.
Nearing the end of my college years, I had taken all the required classes to apply to medical school programs. Yet, after researching schools and specialties, noticing the extensive amount of training and self-sacrifice it required (not to mention a swimming pool of money), I began to worry about embarking on this long strenuous journey. Did I really want this? It was a daunting pursuit and I wanted to be 100% sure. To be honest, as much as I am a go-getter at heart, I felt wary of the sacrifices this journey would require of me. I researched other esteemed medical professions requiring a bit less schooling and landed on one that encompassed nearly all the same activities and status similar to the doctor profession, yet in a shorter amount of time. I applied and received acceptance letters for the following fall. I had it all figured out now. I wanted to be a Nurse Practioner.
Within the same week of receiving my acceptance letters, a ring flew on my finger much to my surprise and my new fiancé landed his first job! However, it required him to move to a small town of LaCrosse, Wisconsin until his relocation back to the Southern California office.
I was overwhelmed.
The thought of attending a rigorous school program for 3 years in the middle of a new marriage and being physically apart for a large chunk of it felt like a death sentence. After much prayer and consideration, I sacrificed my schooling and followed my husband and his new career. Although looking back, I knew this was the right choice for me, it was the one of the hardest choices of my life which initially left me aching and longing for the dream I gave up.
2 years went by, in and out of unsatisfying jobs. Finally, putting my heart aside, I asked God the direction I was to take for my career. A thought came to mind. A career I always pushed aside any thought of pursuing because it ran in the family tree. Yet it clung to my thoughts. Somewhat confident of God’s leading, and somewhat confident of my own desires, I decided. I wanted to be a Dental Hygienist.
I’ve been practicing as a Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH) for over 6 years now and have valued it for so many reasons! It has given me the flexibility, the income, the clinical enjoyment, the patient interaction I’ve always longed for. It’s allowed me the ease of working as little as 1-2 days per week as I now mother my three toddler children. It was the right thing for me and has been a rewarding career for many years, serving me well for many reasons too long to explain.
But seasons are beginning to shift again in my life. I knew months ago it was coming. As I pressed into my faith through prayer asking God what to do, I heard his quiet voice whisper back, “not yet, your work here isn’t finished yet.”
So I kept working, albeit only 1 day per week, and continued to ask God for guidance on the timing of the change.
Months went by and nothing.
I was beginning to feel more and more ready for change yet it still didn’t feel quite right.
I wondered if I was even being used by God as I worked my measly 1 day each week.
But then the day came when I received God’s clear response that I was right where I was supposed to be. A patient came in experiencing great emotional difficulty and I was able to reflect God’s truthful words of encouragement to Him when he needed it most.
I still remember his grateful response in the middle of the cleaning.
“I was laying here and thinking about how I am so thankful to you and to God that you are my hygienist today. You are an answer to my prayer. Thank you for taking the time to listen to me and for responding to me kindly…”
I was exactly where I needed to be.
Finally, I felt content to continue working indefinitely until I was confident that change was not simply my own desire, but was God’s desire as well.
An interesting thing happened shortly thereafter. As soon as I released my desire for change and replaced it with contentment to stay where I was, later that day in a quiet moment, I heard a strong but gentle voice I’ve grown familiar with. A voice of truth that speaks overriding the other self-seeking voices in my head. A voice that pressed in with authority but in love as well—in a nutshell, this voice spoke of change.
So all that to say, I am hanging up my dental hygiene hat in less than a week. I do not know if this is for a season or forever, but I do know that God is in control of it. Yet, I am certain when I follow the gentle but firm invitations by God to follow Him, I lack nothing when I do.
There are so many events leading up to this shifting season of my life, arriving simultaneously, producing the perfect time for this transition. Things are still uncertain with this change, yet I am confident I have made the decision to be right where God wants me.
So when you feel a bit lost for what you want to “be” when you “grow up,” or what you hope to pursue, or do, or achieve, know that it’s ok if things change.
It’s ok if you don’t have it all figured out right now.
It’s ok that the roles and titles you’ve worked so hard to attain morph and shift in the middle, beginning, or even towards the end of your life.
It’s ok if your dreams and desires when young have reversed as you grow into more of the person you are meant to become at a different stage in life.
And it’s completely ok to take a drastic change and pursue a different career or life path altogether… especially if God is leading you to it.
So, what do I want to be when I grow up? Even with all the roles and titles I’ve achieved, and future roles and titles I’m sure to achieve someday, as cliché as it sounds, I simply want to be a person that loves my family and others with a Jesus-like love, encouraging everyone I meet to experience God in amazing ways.
That my friends, is worth far more than any title we are searching to attain.