I am supposed to be in medical school right now. On Sunday mornings, when I am holding babies in the nursery or rolling up to the church before the sun shows up, my friends in med school are studying biochemistry. During the week, I meet with staff teams, answer emails, and edit spreadsheets; up until July, I imaged my October weeks to consist of anatomy labs and clinical skills.
So how did I end up here?
Well, last October, about a year ago now, I made a commitment to Pine Cove Summer Camps. Was it wise to make a commitment for the full summer even though I knew some medical schools started in July? No. Does God consistently use my shambly decisions for His glory and my good? Every time. The director of Pine Cove Woods – one of Pine Cove’s family camps in Tyler – asked if I would be a Mama Ruth the second half of the summer.
Here’s the deal: four years ago, I was a Baby Ruth. In 2011, I was a part of the five-week discipleship program at Pine Cove that God used to change my life. Since then, I wanted to be a Mama Ruth – one of the handful of women selected to lead a group of eight girls who had just graduated high school through some of the toughest weeks of their lives. I was honored and stoked on ice. I started praying consistently for eight nameless, faceless college seniors I would lead the following July.
I also started interviewing for medical school. My friend and I played med school bingo – seeing who could get the most Texas interviews or get the “black out.” Praise the Lord, we both ended up with the very exciting and suuuuper legitimate med school bingo black out. This February, after visiting and interviewing all over the state, I got my bid. Applying to Texas medical schools is like rushing a Greek sorority – at the end of January, I had to rank all the schools where I interviewed, and then they ranked me. And then match day (basically med school bid day). My third choice – UT Health Science Center in San Antonio – was my match and I landed on waitlists at my first two choices, in addition to waitlisting at Baylor, which doesn’t use the Texas public school Greek system.
So there I was, in the middle of June, working at Pine Cove and having no idea where I’d go to med school. I begged God to let me get in to Baylor, but He in His sovereignty said no and humbled me by keeping me from getting in off of any of the other waitlists. UT Med (a shorter nickname for UT Health Science Center San Antonio which is a mouthful but it’s fine) is a fantastic school and was sending emails about classes and orientation, which would start in July.
Oops. Baby Ruths finished August 7th. My b. Naturally, I emailed the Dean and asked if I could start a week and a half late. He diplomatically said “literally no. It’s med school. You are drinking out of a fire hose day one. By day nine, you will die if you start late.” But I could request a deferral. The illustrious, yet elusive deferral. It means that my acceptance gets moved to the next year. Basically, I would get a year off and already be accepted to UT Med and not have any stress of applying, interviewing, or trying to boost my medical credentials.
Most schools do not defer. And if they do, the deferral is hard to come by. Buuuut Sarah’s womb was closed and she still had a son. Mary was a virgin and she had a son, too. A biblical trend seems to be: God accomplishes His will. No matter what.
So I got the deferral. In July. Months after most year-long gap-year programs were long done accepting applicants. I had turned down an Austin Stone residency offer for this year in spring because I didn’t know what the year would hold, but come July and the resident hired for downtown a.m. kids ministry had quit.
So here I am. I jumped on the Austin Stone resident boat months after the rest of the squad. Now I spend a lot of time with my laptop, which I named Walden because of that pond by which Thoreau used to sit and think. Walden sits and thinks a lot. He doesn’t do a ton of work, but it’s fine. I do a lot of administrative things I am not naturally wired to do. I have meetings and expectations that entail punctuality – which is another one of my not-strong suits.
But maybe serving in a children’s ministry is a good place to grow in these weaknesses – before peoples’ lives are in my hands, or their bodies are on an operating table and a mistake could cost more than a do-over or disappointment from my supervisor.
I wasn’t planning to work for a church in a year off before medical school. In my mind, I would be studying my life away right now, or on a European adventure as a nanny or farm worker. But God made it clear that even Jesus waited thirty years before His public ministry, taking time to learn and grow. So it was about time I did the same – take a year off to grow as a woman, a follower of Jesus, an employee and a future doctor.