DEVOTIONAL: Facing Odds
by Leslie Ann Walsh is an RN-BSN student at Winston-Salem State University, North Carolina.
Life is full of trials. I learned only I have the power to change my life's course when I choose to follow God's path. God is the solace for every weary, troubled soul.
During childhood, I was troubled as I watched my mother self-destruct. Unable to resist demons of depression, she succumbed to alcoholism and propelled our family down a destructive road. The memory of one horrible night still haunts me. I vividly recall my mother aiming a 357 magnum at my father and hearing the explosive horror of it firing. She missed, intentionally she said, but then downed a bottle of pills and proclaimed she would “be dead in less than an hour.” We barely made it to the emergency room in time to save her life.
The desperation to escape the madness of my childhood prompted an unplanned pregnancy. I jumped headlong into a volatile marriage and abandoned plans for college. I used to berate myself for failing to recognize the warning signs of mental illness and substance abuse—my husband was a violent alcoholic.
When the marriage crumbled, I ran for my life. My anguished plea for God's intervention ultimately altered my course. Driving to work one morning, I recognized I was on the verge of a breakdown. While the radio played Jesus Take the Wheel, I surrendered my life to God. That glorious submission prompted a new beginning.
After relocating closer to a support system, I began rebuilding. I pursued dreams of college and responded to my call to nursing. As a single working mother, I graduated with honors from nursing school in 2009. I launched my career in a high volume, fast-paced emergency department. Once the initial excitement of emergency nursing abated, I realized my compassion and empathy could succumb to cynicism and disdain. The verbal (and sometimes physical) abuse, drug-seeking behaviors, petty complaints, and the continuous “how much longer” question make becoming jaded a dangerous snare. In fact, awareness, diligence, and daily prayer are the only methods by which I have avoided this entrapment.
As a student in an RN-BSN bridge program, I marvel at how far I have come as a woman and a nurse. Clinical experiences and education have challenged and accelerated personal growth. Although there is difficulty in balancing a career, a full-time course load, and single parenthood, it is easier than what I have already survived. Remarkably, I am able to recognize that the odds I have faced prepared me to serve. How else could I greet substance abuse, mental illness, hostility, and suffering with open arms?
Reflecting on the past and anticipating the future, I see God's gentle hand that led me. I am convinced that my recent acceptance to a Family Nurse Practitioner program is the essential piece of fulfilling God's plan for my life. Personal challenges have given me perseverance, courage, and a powerful desire to help others. Through God's grace, he has lifted me out of the trenches and given me a purpose. He has guided me, provided for every need, and soothed the wounds I have suffered. He led me to nursing; I chose to embrace it. What are the odds?
Courage is being scared to death – but saddling up anyway.
Courage is doing what you're afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you're scared.
Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Joshua 1:9 states, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (NIV). We can heed the commands to be strong and courageous, to be unafraid or discouraged because we have an incredible promise. God is always with us regardless of location or circumstances.