Friday, June 10, 2011

Why I Do The Things I Do

It is 11:07 pm, and if you know anything about me, you know I usually don't stay up past 9pm. For a very good reason.

However, good reasons be damned, I am up, and I have decided to pour forth my life blood. I am sick of people making fun of me for going to bed when I do, explaining my job for the hundredth time, or just generally being perceived as an outsider, or a little off.

First of all, I do everything that I do for love of God. If I didn't believe 110% in God and his infinite love and wisdom, I'd be out trying to cheat the system, getting rich doing so, and finding a hot guy to hook up with. I know sometimes it seems like I am the way I am because that is how I was raised, and to a certain extent that is true, but I have reached an age where I make conscious decisions to live the way I do now, not merely follow in the ruts my upbringing has provided me.

When I was 14 or 15 or so, I decided one day to map out the rest of my life. I decided to figure out what I wanted to do and how I was going to get there. Well, I love God and want to spend my life serving him and by doing so gain Heaven. The first question in the Baltimore Catechism is: What does one need to do to gain Heaven? And the answer: To know, love, and serve God in this life and the next. So, being the black-and-white thinker I am, I decided to figure out how to know, love, and serve God. I could know God (or at least grow in knowledge, because one can never fully know God) by refining my spiritual life, which I may talk about more later. I realized that one can love God purely only when one first knows God and second serves God. I then sought to determine how I might serve God. The Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy came to mind, so I pondered them all and tried to decide how I might best fulfill them all, or at least as many as possible.

At about the same time I had also decided to pursue a career, from a purely secular standpoint, fixing something I had the hardest time dealing with myself. At the time, I came to the conclusion that I couldn't deal with physical pain, so a career in healthcare was the logical next step. Since my grandfather was a trauma surgeon and my mother spent 23 years in the UW Surgery Department, I realized doctors, specifically surgeons, were insane and I would die rather than complete residency. That left nursing.

As I was contemplating the Corporal Works of Mercy, I realized the one profession that could fulfill the most of them was healthcare and per my other line of reasoning, I now had two lines of logic converging on nursing. Since nursing is also lucrative and boasts inherent job security, especially with the Baby Boomers growing older every year, I decided upon it as a career.

I then mapped out how I would achieve my goal, which included running start, extensive volunteer work, the UW and eventually becoming a nurse practitioner specializing in adult rural practice. Each of these details was worked out following a similar chain of logic, which I will not digress into because I'm quite sure no one cares.

The point to these ramblings is this: I do everything I do because I love God and I want to serve God in order to foster a love of God. I have stayed with my AmeriCorps position getting paid close to nothing working harder than people getting paid 2.5x my 'living stipend' giving up the typical 19 year-old lifestyle because I love God and I honestly feel deeply, and with all my heart, that this is what I am being called to do.

I know it is atypical for a teenager to feel a deep, spiritual connection with social work involving helping a man with cerebral palsy eat, or helping a man with a tbi perform basic acts of hygiene, or being a shoulder for people four times my age to cry on, or counseling the developmentally disabled, or working on an intimate level with my elders, except I am the person of authority. It is a strange, very strange feeling, because almost all the clients I work with could be either my parents or grandparents (or in one case great grand-parents) but this is what I am feeling called to do. And if my work with these people means going to bed at 9pm so I have energy to function during the day, or forgoing parties because I don't have the energy, or growing weary of friends gushing about their superfluous boy craze when I feel miles beyond anything even remotely similar because I know people who have cheated death, then so be it.

I love my friends, I really do, but I really don't think they realize just how strongly I feel I am being called to this radical life of service. How I want to spend a year after college in Calcutta, India, working along side Mother Teresa's Sisters of Charity serving the poorest of the poor. How I feel a deep, firm connection with people whom society has forgotten about, or never even knew. How lately I feel more at home with these vulnerable adults than regular adults because they are filled with an appreciation for life, inspire me each and every day, and lack the bull shit that people with no real problems spout. It's great that my friends are doing artsy things, or partying, or doing normal things, because it's good to be normal. And sometimes I wish I did normal things. But I grew up homeschooled, so I never really figured out what being normal is all about. Point being: it's fucking late, and I really wanted to get that out. Do not chide me or make fun of me for my strange habits or forfeit of social occasions. I completely understand that you may not, and probably do not, understand my drive. I don't expect you to, I just expect you to respect my decisions and not give me shit for being different and sometimes not caring about the same things you do.

Anyway, this is kind of a weird post, so sorry for being one of those people who vomit their personal feelings all over the internet, but I just wanted to get that out there.