In 2018, I stood in the faculty line for graduation with a colleague. I had been teaching nursing since 2006 and loved it. A colleague asked why I had not started the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. Her brief question brought back on onslaught of memories.
In 2014, I had applied and was accepted to the DNP program, but I was not scheduled to start until the spring of 2015. In the months before classes began, I sensed God telling me not to begin at this time. Although confused and embarrassed to withdraw, I obeyed God's clear leading. The hardest part was humbling myself to tell the program dean and my supervisors that I felt God was saying not to begin the DNP coursework. Thankfully, they were very supportive. I knew God was in the decision, but I did not understand why.
Weeks later, I saw a larger picture. My father would begin hospice and then would pass away. It was apparent I would not have been able to fulfill my desires to be with my father and help him through the journey heavenward and also be present for mandatory in-person nursing classes. God had been working, providing a sacred space for me to be present for my father. My obedience resulted in a tender, focused time with him before he passed.
One might expect that I would readily renew my application for study after my father's passing. However, nearly 3 years went by, and I still felt no sense of momentum to begin the DNP program. So, standing in the faculty line that day in spring 2018, I told my colleague I did not want to start the program at that point; then I pushed the idea out of my mind. I was not up to the challenge, feeling too old. I could not believe I could handle doctoral work. I'd stopped listening to God's call.
However, God did not stop nudging me, and before I knew it, I was enrolled in school at age 63. In fact, at one point, God responded to my complaint of being too old with, “Was Sarah too old?” (alluding to the Old Testament wife of Abraham to whom God had promised—and delivered—a baby when she was 99 years old). Before I knew it, I had received two scholarships and a grant, was accepted into the DNP program, and began classes by August 2018.
My journey was not without complications. In January 2019, I sustained a postvitreous detachment that caused difficulty reading and completing my teaching and DNP course work. Then, after a global trip, I became ill with a respiratory infection and labile blood pressures during most of the fall and winter. In March 2020, COVID-19 shut things down as we faculty tried to help students by modifying assignments while staying true to our school's mission and objectives. Spring and summer 2020 brought a diagnosis of hypothyroidism, which explained my profound sleepiness and lack of energy. During these difficult times, I cried, lamented, prayed, and leaned on God, as well as on my advisor and mentor. God helped me jump these hurdles and complete the program in 2020, in his time. In fact, I suspect he did the homework sometimes.
I hope my story encourages others in this time of a pandemic and unrest. We are not too old, too young, too busy, or in too much distress for God to accomplish his purposes. God is always with us through trials and tribulations, regardless of our age. He is but a whisper away. He orchestrates events and situations of which we are often unaware. His timing may not be seen until years later, if ever. But of this we can be sure: When God calls us to something, his power and strength are present. Our obedience opens doors for reliance upon and provision from his mighty hand.
JCN is seeking submissions for this column. Students in all levels of nursing study are encouraged to read Student TXT in recent issues under “Collections” and the For Authors information at journalofchristiannursing.com. Submit a manuscript about your educational experience and its intersection with faith or spiritual growth.