Saturday, February 28, 2015

Why do I matter? What is my worth? A Nurse on the Mission Field

I started working and making money at 15 1/2 years old - the earliest you could obtain a work permit in the state of California.  Fast food, cashier, U.S. Army, secretary, waitress, and nurse.  The only time I didn't work was the 3 months after Madison was born.  I was successful at what I did.  I felt accomplished.  I made great money.  Then we went to the mission field.  I no longer made ANY money. 

Being a mom, wife, and missionary has always been a challenge.  I came to the field as a "professional" woman - having had a full-time career (working nights) so I could be a full-time mom as well.  I homeschooled my daughter, never missed an activity or event she was in.  It was the best of both worlds!  My mom taught me to be an independent woman, so I would be able to "survive" if something were ever to happen to my husband.  She taught me what it was to be strong, yet to be a good wife and mother.  And I felt all of these things.

Then the mission field...women live in this terrible dichotomy.  Our culture tells us to be accomplished...our women peers who have jobs look at us and judge us based on what we do for a living.  On the other hand, our friends who are stay-at-home moms look at us and shake their heads - that we are taking away the precious time we have from our children and working instead.  It is a hard place to be - this place of mom/wife/career woman.  We are never fully accepted by those whom are fully one or the other.

Then the mission field...the working mom comes to the field and is torn.  Do you commit yourself to your family?  Do you commit yourself to being a missionary?  Or are you able to do a little of both?  And what happens to those around you who chose to do one or the other?  Will you be judged by those moms who are choosing to be at home with the family?  What about those that are working full time as a missionary?  And then there is the feeling of worth...

The mission field...the weird place to be as a woman.  I chose to be both.  I was a full-time missionary nurse, and a full-time mom.  It came easily to me.  It's what I did before the mission field, so being able to work and be a wife and mom at the same time was very natural.  But now I did it for "free".  As a volunteer, I worked full-time as a nurse but made no money.  I felt like I was not contributing to my family.  Keep in mind, I had been working since 15 1/2.  For that entire time I brought money to the table.  I contributed.  I mattered.  Now I didn't.

I didn't realize I felt any of this until we returned to the States during furlough and I got a job as a nurse at a children's hospital.  I once again made really good money!  I was contributing to the family!  I felt accomplished!  Was able to pay cash to get Madison to Europe this summer for overseas study for her college!  We paid off our bills, was able to go out to eat whenever we wanted, date nights, and live a little freely with the extra money I am making.  I didn't find myself having to transfer money from Mike's account to mine - I had my own money :-)  It felt great!  It FEELS great! I won't deny it.  But this brought to mind the internal feelings I didn't even realize I had.  What is it that gives me a sense of purpose?  What is it that makes me feel accomplished?  Where do I find my satisfaction?

Now I am NOT talking about satisfaction of who I am in Christ!  I have always felt that whatever I do I do for the glory of God!  That if I follow where He leads, there is no wrong!  That He can use weak vessels, like me, to accomplish what He wants.  So what is it?  It's my culture...that's what it is.  It is the culture I grew up in that placed this need in me.  This need that showed me the only way I was successful was to be accomplished in a career.  When I applied for my position at the children's hospital, do you know they didn't even contact our mission agency?  They didn't view that as "work" at all.  They wanted to know the last hospital I worked at - because that was actual work, and mission work wasn't work.  Don't get me wrong - as an agency that cares for sick children in a hospital setting, they wanted to see how I was when I worked at a hospital.  I get it - but it also highlighted the fact that our own culture doesn't value what we do as missionaries, that when seeking a professional job, they didn't look at what I had been doing for the last 7 years - to them - I had been without a job in their eyes.

So here is my confession.  I do struggle with this.  I struggle when some visiting nurses and doctors come down to work in my clinic and they see where I "work" and I see in some of their eyes that what I do is not "real" nursing.  The medical profession is a tough field.  More often than not nurses can eat their young.  We want titles and initials behind our names.  When I am told, "oh we don't do it like that anymore" in hospitals in the U.S. - it stings.  I feel like I'm so behind the curve and lesser as a nurse.  That I maybe don't matter anymore.  I know...I know...pride is such an evil thing!  The root of most of our sin. 

Bottom line...why does it matter what I look like in other people's eyes?  I am following God's calling for us - and His is the only one I matter to.  The thing that speaks to my heart, when I stand before Him in my final days, and He looks to me, the ONLY thing I long to hear is, "Well good and faithful servant," because I followed Him.     

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’  Matthew 25:40

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”   Isaiah 6:8

1 comment:

Chad said...
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