travel nursing, vocation

The Greenest Grass

Ever since I read the spoilers on Reality Steve, I watched Arie’s season of The Bachelor preparing for the inevitable trainwreck. Proposing to one woman, breaking up with her, proposing to the other, all while letting the cameras role. Man, that was not a kind nor smart move.

Aside from the usual people talking about their feelings, tears, and Chris Harrison interjecting at all the wrong times, I kept hearing this overriding theme of choice. How the rejected woman Becca is frustrated that Arie told her he would chose her every day… until he did not, how Arie succumbed to pressure to propose on the TV show’s timeline and felt like he did not have a choice when he did, how the other rejected woman Lauren choosing to respond to him reaching out and choosing to get back together.

As much as I want to throw this ridiculous show away and say it’s all just garbage (because really it is trashy TV, I know, I know, I know), I could not help but really dwell on this idea of choice. It’s difficult to make decisions, and once we do, it’s hard not to want to go back on them and think another path is better.

I think, for example, of when I decided to travel nurse. It did not make logical sense. My job was great, had the best benefits I’ve ever had, and I could have had so much of graduate school covered. I had such peace deciding to travel nurse over graduate school over staying in my job. It always sounded so dreamy and exciting, but then reality hit. All of a sudden, that dreamy, beautiful life I had in mind looked less dreamy and beautiful than I imagined. I had to learn what trust in uncertainty looked likelearning how to wait for my travel nurse life to come together, and then learning how to deal with the loneliness of assignment. Man, that was a crazy chapter of life!

I met some travel nurses recently, two sweet, sweet girls from Dallas who are in their difficult first assignment in Milwaukee, of all places. Hearing about their openness to life, all the cool activities they’re doing in Milwaukee and Chicago, the freedom of their off days, I became a bit jealous.  I was thinking about travel nursing. Should I do it again? Would it be that hard to get into it again? Work has been really rough lately, and the escape of travel nursing is incredibly appealing. Especially since this winter feels like it is never ending…

Too, before meeting these girls, I was thinking about my graduate school program. There’s a lot of nurse practitioner (NP) programs in the world, so I have been wondering if I picked the right one. Was I wise to pick a doctorate program over a Master’s program? Was I wise to pick the family NP route over another route? School has been really dull, frustrating, and hard lately, and the escape of being in a different NP program is incredibly appealing.

Lastly, I’ve been thinking about my housing situation. I adore my roommate, but I’ve lived in the same place for about a year and a half. The housing market is supposed to be good, should I buy a house? Would I be able to figure out to maintain a house? Am I living in the best place possible? My housing situation is great but a little dull lately, and the escape of living somewhere new – even in another part of town – is incredibly appealing.

I have been thinking about all these things, debating if I’m on the right path. Then, obviously, I’m not debating about it in a vacuum. I have been hearing and seeing what others are up to, and I’m really having a difficult time not comparing myself to others. Some of my nursing classmates are already done with their NP programs, and one of my close friends in town who is younger than me is graduating this spring. Some of my closest friends are married with children. I just feel behind, and I have no idea if I’m on the “right” path to “catch” up.

But then I take a breath. I’ve been here before. I’ve done this before. I’ve listened to all the wackiest voices in my mind, telling me things aren’t going well, and I realize it’s all a mirage. I’m trying to follow my own advice and surrender to God.

I’ve been here before. I’ve done this before. I know surrender is a choice, and it’s the best choice you can make. But it’s hard not to dream of greener grass while you’re standing in the brown stuff and to trust that you’re not missing out on something.

It’s hard not be on Instagram, look at perfectly curated pictures, and trust that you’re not missing out on something.  It’s hard to be on Facebook, look at the highlight reel of an acquaintance’s life, and trust that you’re not missing out on something. (Facebook has its perks. So many old friends were INCREDIBLE about giving me advice about my upcoming Eurotrip!) It’s hard to run into an old classmate while you’re in sweaty gym clothes, hear about everything that’s going on, and trust that you’re not missing out on something. In general, it’s just so hard to trust that you’re not missing out on something exactly where God has you.

That’s been my struggle for several months. I’m in the messy middle of my job, my program, and I pray to God, my lack of a love life. I am so tempted to run away from where I am to find that thing I feel like I’m missing. But instead, I’ve decided to stay where I am and wait in faith for the Lord to move mountains where I am. It is so har  to trust that I’m not missing out on something exactly where God has me.

But then I really think about green grass. Green grass is full of artificial things like fertilizers, aerators, and complex watering systems with rigorous mowing schedules. Do I really want a life full of all that maintenance just so others can be impressed with me? I like having a lawn that is not perfect because I don’t mind playing in it.

And then I really think about the dreams I have for my life. I want to cultivate a life that is imperfect, one where I can be messy, be vulnerable, and be free to make mistakes. That green grass, the place when I’m happy as an NP with a husband and family, will never be as green as I’m imagining it. Babies have pooplosions. Husbands are not perfect. NP life will come with its own difficulties.

I do not want to rob my future of joy by making it out to be a mirage instead of an attainable hope.

Then, at this very moment, I need to not rob myself of joy by dwelling excessively on what could have been, could be, and might be. I need to accept where I am, trusting that the Father’s hand is guiding me, deciding to believe He knows better than I do.

Because really, when I think about it, I have been given everything I need in my patch of dead brown grass. I have a family who loves and supports me. I have friends who love and support me. I have a job with co-workers and managers who support me and even those who do not like me respect me. I have an NP program that is much more supportive than my undergraduate one.

Life could be so much better right now. Sure. I could be married with a family. I could have a less stressful job. I could live downtown and be closer to cool things. But life could also could be so much worse. And too, life really is not all that bad, and I have so much to be grateful for every stinking day.

I have everything I need. The Lord is providing in more ways than I can imagine. I just pray I have the patience to wait for my little patch of dead brown to become a patch of green grass in its time. I’m cultivating my little corner as best I can. The rest is up to God.

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