For much of the past few months or so, my life has very much felt like it’s been a constant cycle of change. I got pretty used to feeling a little unsteady as God did His good work in me; refining and reshaping all that I was used to. Between my career, my personal life, and my family there has been nothing steady about the past couple of years.
The Bible reminds us in Psalm 94, “When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” – Psalm 94:18-19, NIV
It was around this time last year when I returned to this space in hopes to establish myself as a lifestyle blogger after years as an entertainment and pop culture blogger. Because of that background, I was enrolled in marketing classes and ready to pursue a master’s degree in social media marketing and had committed myself to that path. But then, life happened. In the midst of my third semester of grad school, my family and I entered into a season that led to us losing four family members in four months. In the time since those first of these losses last September, I don’t know that I’ve really talked extensively about where God has been leading me over the past few months.
I was pursuing marketing last year because of my time and experience as an entertainment blogger. I had been able to interview actors, authors, and directors because of the connections made and you better believe I could have gotten used to a life that was full of paid trips to film sets, movie premieres, and press junkets. Who wouldn’t want something like that? Shortly after I attended the 2014 Divergent premiere in Hollywood, I had the opportunity to travel to Beverly Hills and interview award-winning author Lois Lowry and the cast of The Giver, one of my favorite childhood books, and I began to really consider what opportunities like this could mean for my life down the road. I had been blessed with some amazing opportunities during my run as a fansite blogger, but I didn’t realize at the time that I was selfishly craving the bright lights and the glamour.
In December of last year, three months after losing my maternal grandmother and aunt I began to prayerfully consider what my future was really going to look like. In the past, like when I decided to pursue marketing, I used to keep God out of the decision-making process. I wouldn’t pray over the decisions I faced or ask Him what his plan was for me. It was all about me and what I (thought I) wanted. But one of the things that I learned when I was faced with the task of grieving the losses of two of the most important women in my life is that, no matter what, Jesus absolutely has to be a part of every and all aspects of our lives. Life hurts, but we don’t get very far with the mentality that we can go it alone. When I invited God into my decision-making, my eyes were opened to see that nothing looked the way that it once did. When something big and tragic and messy happens in our lives, we have a brand news lens to see the world through. Nothing looks the same anymore, especially when people we love are gone so suddenly. As I worked to get myself caught up from the two weeks of missed assignments, I was overwhelmed with the disconnect I was feeling from the work I was doing. I had loved this field of study just a few weeks prior and now I had found myself continually asking myself, what was I even doing here?
“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” – Proverbs 3:6, ESV
The field of Child Life was something that had always been on my radar since my undergraduate years. It was something I knew about, I just hadn’t considered it for myself since I had been so locked into teaching and then social media marketing. As I began praying over this decision, I found that Child Life continued to come to mind. For those who may not know,Child Life Specialists work in pediatric healthcare settings to help children and their families cope with the challenges that come along with hospitalizations, illness, and disabilities. They do this through age-appropriate preparation and explanations, coping strategies, and play therapy.
I withdrew from grad school that December and took the last six months off from classes to allow myself some time to rest and prepare my heart for this next step that I felt God leading me to. This all led up to this past Thursday when I had the opportunity to shadow two Child Life Specialists at Levine Children’s Hospital, a well-known hospital here in Charlotte. It was a total God thing- the whole thing, my friends! It felt like I was home, even though the hospital setting is nothing like a classroom. He even made it so that the second Child Life Specialist was a girl that was also from my town (just eight years older) and on the internship committee for the hospital. She was so kind and helpful, answering all of my questions about the internship that I’ll be completing in about two years.
This week also marks the first week of my first child life classes. I am pursuing the Child Life graduate certificate from the University of California at Santa Barbara’s online Extension program, which I should have completed by June of next year. I haven’t had to balance more than one class at a time since my undergraduate years, so I’m a little nervous at the workload but I’m also excited. Excited to learn and excited to follow this path that God has created and envisioned for me. We serve a mighty God, one that will never leave us to make the hard decisions on our own as long as we invite Him in.