When God Closes a Door, He Opens a Window…Somewhere…A Long Overdue Blog Post and An Update

I’ve never been one to preach a sermon based on the following cliches (especially in light of my call to hospital chaplaincy and the care of the sick and dying):

-God only gives you as much as you can handle…

-Where God closes a door, He opens a window…

-God will make you stronger because of these difficulties…

-In weakness I am made strong (ala the apostle Paul)…

Its not to say that I don’t believe these things (because I definitely DON’T believe point #1, and after all the death, dying, suffering and horror I experienced in my first unit of CPE, I certainly don’t, and refuse to, despite many incredible theological discussions on this very subject), but rather that these aren’t to be the subject of discussion in this blog post.

To say that I have been a terrible blogger during my three years of seminary would be pointless, as I have done a terrible job keeping this blog up. The walk through three years of theological training has felt at times like Sisyphus pushing a boulder up Mount Everest. And the boulder is square shaped, covered in crazy glue. But on the other hand, it has been a true blessing. I’ll spare y’all the gritty details on both fronts, since the post would turn into a novel in the process, but the last few months have been a really interesting (and also extremely intense) journey all on their own, and for several reasons.

Beginning this fall, I began the process of applying and interviewing for ACPE residencies. I initially thought it would be something like my internship process, but oh how wrong I was. It was extremely different, and far more difficult. In the process, I realized several things – ministry is NOT a job, and the minute I begin to think of it as such, I have lost touch with the heart of it all, and who is truly in charge in the first place – God. I also learned a lot about the importance of sharing of myself, but also that how I share can make the difference in how others perceive me (and this made a huge difference in the interviewing process especially). Finally, I needed to realize from the beginning that this was ultimately a spirit-driven process, and that no amount of OCD could make a residency position appear. If it was meant to happen – if God desired me to be a hospital chaplain, not if Liz desired to be a hospital chaplain – then a position would open up. And it might not be the one I wanted, where I wanted. So I better be ready and willing to move anywhere I applied. And as it turned out, I was blessed with the opportunity to learn, grow some more and serve God (a weird phrase for me still to say, even after almost three years in seminary – not a phrase I feel is common rhetoric in the Presbyterian community) back in the city that stole my heart four years ago, and this time, in a formal capacity. Beginning in September and for a full year (370 days to be exact), I will be working and learning at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center.

But before I can go to California, I have to face one more challenge. I have had three catheter procedures on my heart since I started my second year of seminary in the attempt to control my rhythm issues, and to date, none have succeeded in taking the stress off and slowing my heart rate down. Ordinarily, medication and a procedure work, but according to my specialist, he’s never seen anyone like me, and he’s the leading specialist in cases like mine. Not quite the news you want to hear at almost 25, but fortunately, I have one more option. On February 20th, I’ll be having my last procedure for a while. I’ll be having a dual chamber pacemaker implanted into my heart, but first, my specialist will have to completely sever the remaining conductive tissue (which he has been avoiding doing for the last 12 months), called the AV node. Without the AV node, the heart doesn’t know how to beat, and cannot generate any electricity anymore. Once he has done this, I will be pacemaker dependent for the rest of my life (aka, I’ll be a cyborg, so be jealous!). I’m not thrilled about the possibility of having to depend on something with a battery to keep my heart going for ever and all eternity, but its on the horizon, and will be done in 18 short days. I will always be a cardiac patient – that will never change. But this will hopefully make my quality of life better, and at least give me some of my life back!

So ready or not, here I come…sorry heart, we tried. It was fun, and sorry I had you burned, nuked and mapped. But now, you’re going to get some permanent help. (And yes, I just spoke to my heart in a blog…)

Its been a long few years, filled with blessings, and I don’t think I would have come to my sense of call if not for my own experiences. Realizing my own brokenness (albeit in a really, really messed up way – ok God, next time, perhaps you could do it in a nicer and less painful way? with less burning and procedures involved?) has allowed me to feel, even if only a small amount, the pain, frustration, sorrow, grief and anger of the people I have served, am currently serving and will be serving in the future.

My faith in God’s grace and providence is grounded deeply in the fact that God will give me the tools to not only deal with my own “stuff” as a dear friend calls it, but that God will also give me the tools to be present with the “stuff” of the people God will put in my path in the fall. Nothing will be easy, but God has called me to this wondrous work (to poorly paraphrase the Rev. Martin Copenhaver, a UCC Minister at Wellesley UCC, and son of the former senior minister at my home church from decades ago), and so take me as I am, and so He shall equip me for it (and for what I am to face in the coming weeks)!

Hopefully I can be better at blogging in the few months until commencement (memorial day weekend 2014…coming soon, stay tuned!), but writing a Credo for ordination + field ed (Dutch Neck Presbyterian Church) and trying to cram in life with friends will likely keep me busy! Stay tuned dear ones! Life is only going to get brighter and better as the days go along, that much I’m sure of!

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One thought on “When God Closes a Door, He Opens a Window…Somewhere…A Long Overdue Blog Post and An Update”

  1. Beautifully and bravely written! Thanks for sharing your faith and your faithfulness, Liz. God is great – and I know you will serve him with a compassionate heart! Blessings and Prayers!

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