Originally written on February 1, 2016.
Praise God for slammed doors. Not simply closed with the chance of being opened again, but slammed in your face. Nailed shut. Do not open. When I can’t seem to close the door myself, he does it for me. Praise God.
I’m not a decisive person. My anxiety level rises when my husband and I can’t decide what to eat for dinner. God knows this and I think that’s why he helps me out sometimes. He knows that I will agonize about a decision until I don’t make it at all or, perhaps worse, I make the decision I want, which is not necessarily what’s best for me.
Hindsight is an amazing gift so allow me to tell you a story. Once upon a time there was a very stubborn girl who planned her life exactly the way she wanted it, visualizing where she would be and what she would be doing in future years. She planned herself a perfect little life. This girl went to college and there fell in love with Tennessee. She just knew she would live there, staring at the mountains, forever and ever, amen. The girl decided to go to grad school. She applied to a school in Tennessee and, since everyone knows you can’t just apply to one school, she halfheartedly applied to a school in Pennsylvania, which was close to her hometown. She was accepted to the PA school, but still fully expected to attend the school in TN. On the strangest, most heartbreaking, horrible day in her sheltered little life she received, of all things, a REJECTION letter from the TN school. WHAT?! Confidence shattered, heart broken, door SLAMMED, singing the Tennessee Homesick Blues all the day long. What… Just… Happened? Then she remembered a prayer she uttered while sending in both applications. Annnnnd I quote, “Dear Lord, if you want me to go to Pennsylvania, please send me a rejection letter from Tennessee.” For real. Why on earth did I pray that? Oh yes, by now you’ve definitely figured out that naive college girl was me. I was so upset. It’s pretty safe to say I was in mourning for my perfect little TN life. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be with my parents or visit my hometown. The issue was that the life I had built in my head was crumbling. I had fallen head-over-heels in love with my life in TN and I couldn’t imagine anything different. The goodbyes were some of the most painful I had experienced up until that point. I mean, who knew what would happen after grad school and if I would ever see my precious Tennesseans again? Yes, I’m a bit dramatic. Just a bit. Oddly enough, the TN school changed its mind later and accepted me, but the decision had already been made and I was moving 500 miles away to live with my parents again and head to the PA school.
Did I praise God at the time? Not so much. My reaction looked more like throwing the biggest little girl tantrum in a post-college woman’s body. Oh, blessed hindsight. Now I see what an incredible gift that slammed door was in my life. Once I stopped kicking and screaming a few days…er… months into the process, those two more years in my hometown held some of the most precious blessings in my life. There were the practical blessings, like living rent-free so I could concentrate on school and spending time with my parents. There were the amazing friends and colleagues I never expected to meet in grad school. There was the opportunity to sing and play music with my home church on many Sundays. But I had no idea that the biggest blessing to come from that time was the opportunity to spend two more precious years in the presence of my three surviving grandparents. What a tremendous gift my God had given me!! When I moved back to TN just two years after moving away (yes, I got all dramatic and tantrum-y over a measly two years), all three of those grandparents flew away to Jesus within the span of just over a year. I cannot emphasize enough so I will say it again –PRAISE GOD for two more precious years with these people who had shaped my life immeasurably!! I shudder to think of what I would have missed if I had given into my stubborn tantrum and had not followed God’s clear call back to PA. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Oh, thank you, thank you, Jesus!
Right now, I’m staring in disbelief at a few more slammed doors. I can see clearly the reasons behind some of them and I’m still waiting to understand the others. Having to leave my job is a slammed door that I’m still fighting to open, and sometimes I wake up pounding on the door from the nightmare of losing my career. Yes, I continue to be dramatic. It’s a gift. But I did leave my job kicking and screaming with many, many questions like, “What, on the earth, are we going to do for money?”, “What is my life’s purpose?”, and mostly, “Why the heck am I paying out to wazoo on student loans for a degree I used for a piddly seven years?!?!?!” Oh, that question taunts me constantly. The hardest question that runs around in my head sounds like, “Is my career really over? At 31 years of age, is this it for me?” … along with many “WHY?”s thrown in for good measure.
Last week I tried to get a job as close to what I knew as possible. I would have been able to work from home, connecting patients to online doctors instead of what I was doing before – connecting in-person patients to in-person doctors. I made it through two interviews and started realizing that this job may have been even more demanding than the one I had left. But we needed the money and I needed purpose so I kept going. But there was that crazy prayer again – “Dear God, if you don’t want me to have this job, don’t give it to me.” Had I not learned my lesson the first time? Next day = REJECTION letter. SLAMMED door. OK God, thank you for that incredibly clear answer. He knew I would have been miserable, tied to the computer all day, everyday, unable to really take care of myself and my health problems.
But, now what? I have no idea. No one usually looks forward to sitting in a waiting room. But now I’m hanging out in this ‘waiting room’, staring at the slammed doors all around me, not sure which ones will open and which will remain closed, locked and barred. Occasionally in a moment of weakness I pound on one until I bleed and God takes my hands, cleans and kisses my wounds. But there is a sort of peace in knowing that God clearly knows best and will open the doors that are right for me. He is so patient with me as I pace the floor day after day, night after night, longing for a door to open, or at least a voice on the intercom telling me some kind of news. He sits with me as I throw all the “why” questions at him and reassures me that he has my best interest at heart. I know that I will walk through whichever door he decides to open and I have no doubt that I will find something incredibly beautiful. Something prepared just for me, for such a time as this. Even this ‘waiting room’ is beautiful, if I look really, really hard. Thank you all for hanging out with me here, holding my hand as I wait. Praise God for his wisdom found in those painful, beautiful slammed doors.