On May 10th I will have been a college alumnus for a year. More impressively I will have been a working healthcare professional, a Registered Nurse, for just as long.
A dear friend of mine, though she may not know it, graduates this weekend. Along with two young ladies that I discipled for two years and countless other friends. It’s all made me think hard about the last year of my life.
I don’t miss college. Not one bit. Most people do, I hear. But ever since I was about fifteen I wanted to be a grownup. And college wasn’t all fun for me. It was hard. Very hard. I worked my butt off, still failing my first semester in nursing school and then suffering through a fifth year that left me worn out and wanting nothing more than to escape the college campus. I wasn’t unhappy, by any means, but I was ready for the next phase of life.
Now that I’ve gotten here I sometimes don’t believe it. I feel like I’m still waiting for something to happen.
Although the last year has been a success in many aspects: I was given great reviews at work, I am completely self supported, and on Friday I will be 100% out of debt; I still feel like I am living a mediocre life. Most of that stems from my distant walk with God and continued struggle to believe that he is really involved in my life day to day. Also, somewhere along the way these last 12 months I have started seeing myself as good, as deserving, as worthy…of something…I’m not even sure of what. But I have seen clearly this week that I think I’m better than other people.
College is full of beautiful, ambitious, lovely people. They are usually easy to get along with and in the vast picture of the world, slimly diverse. What is it I’ve heard? 1% of the world’s population goes to college? ONE?!? I don’t remember ever thinking I was better than anyone else in college. Sure, I was better than a few people in English and I was at one point among the top ten singers at GCSU in competition...haha. I was even a pretty decent RA, up for best of the year, but there was always someone better and I never remember having an attitude of being better than anyone else.
That has changed. For the first time in my life I’ve been disgusted by people. I’m embarrassed to say it. But I’ve got to get it out. I’m judgmental and conceited. My once people loving nature has turned into a “loving people who are like me” one. And yes, I’ve got a great excuse.
Last week I had to care for a guy who decided to drive his four wheeler drunk at 3am. He’s split from his wife, visibly has no relationship with his kids, and his oversized belly boasts years of downing liters of alcohol daily. Was I sympathetic? No. Did he repel me? Yes. Did I enjoy bathing and wiping snot from his nose for three days? Absolutely not. Did I think I was better than him and his toothless mother? Yes.
And what about the guy my roommate cared for a few months back. I’ve mentioned him before. He murdered his wife before turning his gun unsuccessfully on himself. Did I have a problem ethically? Yes. Did I want to have anything to do with him? No. Did my heart ache for his family? Yes. Did I think I was better? Absolutely.
My profession, like most, has thrown me into a world of pain and diseased people. And not just diseases of the body. Two weeks ago I cared for a young guy paralyzed in a car wreck who insisted on attempting to groap me and mutter sexual slurs every chance he got. I wasn’t sympathetic. He made me angry.
Though I don’t desire to go back to college, it definitely was easier. And no, it wasn’t all peaches and cream. But something about this last year has turned me into someone who thinks that her education and tax bracket make her better than other people, more presentable, and worthy. I am still learning that it is I who is diseased. Not just a cripple in a hospital bed, a blue collared man who never learned to write, or a woman who has smoked herself into lung disease. “The problem with the world is me?” Right Justin? Why have I for so long considered that cliché?
How wrong I’ve been.
So if I could say something to graduates as they face the next year of life it wouldn’t be to get out of debt as fast as you can, get a great job, find happiness, or follow your dreams. It would simply be to remember.
Remember who you are. Remember Why you’re worthy. Remember that a degree, a job, money, good looks, health, possessions, and even friendships will in fact, fade away.
His love knows no end. It is what matters. And it is not based on you social status, physical fitness, education, accomplishments or ambition. It simply is.
Because He chose for it to be.
So here’s to my first year, so far from pretty of perfect. But this was it. And there will ever be room for improvement. Room for remembering.