When I was young, my grades were just average in school; I never achieved distinction in any area. Every time I received my report card, I would tear it up. After graduation from junior high school I entered a nursing program; afterwards, I got married and accompanied my husband to England, and then to the United States.
I uesd to feel inferior regarding studying. My fear of failure became quite an anxiety; whenever I sat down for a test I became nervous. I felt my test scores were always lower compared to my true skill. However, after I believed in the Lord, I had not been too concerned about the outcome; as long as I did my best, I felt peace in my heart. I managed to pass both nursing license examinations in England and in the States. Later I graduated from the University of Texas in Austin with straight A’s; indeed I experienced God’s faithfulness and leading.
Last year our family moved to the Chicago area, and I started to work in the Department of Health at Will County. At the same time, I applied to do further study in the Health Research Institute of the Chicago campus of the University of Illinois (UIC). There was an honorable reason for my application, such as ‘maybe some day God can use my knowledge’; but it was also out of vanity.
The UIC Health Research Institute has a joint program with the World Health Organization (WHO). For years it has been my dream to work for WHO; I hope to meet people from different countries and render service while working. Furthermore, UIC and my alma mater (UT at Austin) were both ranked among the top 10 universities in the Healthcare profession.
It was smooth sailing. Not only was I admitted to UIC, even my department had approved my request to study with expenses paid and with full salary. Yet at this time a dilemma arose – my husband’s work demanded that he should get an MBA.
My husband and I had full time job and our kids were just 8 and 10 years old. It would be too much a burden for us both to study and work at the same time. Which one should give up his or her desire?
I had spent a lot of time making application and preparation for my new study. Why should I give up? Besides, he already got his Ph.D, while I have only a bachelor degree.
My husband was very persistent in this matter, but I was no pushover either. I cried, made scenes, and claimed I would try to realize my dream no matter what. I would not mind if both of us studied and worked. As for the kids, I had paid my dues by caring for them when they were smaller. Despite my insistence I did pray silently seeking the Lord’s will.
God works wonders. During summer vacation He let me witness several things. We went camping with several Christians; a sister shared with us the difficulties children might encounter growing up as teenagers, and the challenges we as parents would have to face. I began to wonder: which is more important, my career or the spiritual well-being and future of my children? I was already middle-aged, and their lives were just beginning.
In July we went on a trip in Canada. I met a friend who said that despite her multiple advanced degrees, the lack of work opportunities resulted in her inability to utilize her training; further, her income was not commensurate with her work. I could not help but wondered that some things are beyond human control despite the best of efforts. I should give thanks for the job I held.
From the Bible God led me to rethink the role of a mother, and her significant responsibility in raising godly children. Yet I continued to ask: if God wanted me to give up my career advancement, why didn’t He stop me in the first place? Why did I seem to have green lights in my quest, all the way to registration, fully prepared to start classes? Although not happy at the time, I chose to be obedient to God. A mere three months after my submission I began to see His blessing.
First, I had more time to care for my children. In the past this was like a chore, but I began to enjoy my time spent with them.
Furthermore, through an apparently bad event that happened to my husband at work, he is now willing to spend time with me every day to read God’s word – I had prayed for such a wonderful happening for many years. God also allowed my husband to move to a different department and was given opportunity for promotion. His current endeavor to pursue an advanced degree did help in the process.
It was indeed not easy to submit; there were struggles and inward pain, tears and hopelessness. But as long as we rely on the Lord, the peace and blessing He grants us are truly beyond our expectation. As God has said in Isaiah 55: 8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
The author came from Guangdong, and is currently living in Chicago.