Saturday, April 14, 2012

Surrendering means Victory

I've observed before that the readings the Church gives us amazingly correlate with daily life. One could say that this is no surprise: I am trying to become conformed with Christ and this is what Scripture is all about.... But sometimes, I'm amazed. For example: today and yesterday [For reference: readings from April 13, readings from Apr 14; courtesy of USCCB].

A unique problem for the first-year medical student is "what should I do this summer?" This is the only summer she has to put something on her résumé for residency applications. She thinks, "ah, I have to do something cool and shiny, like a preceptorship or research." (A preceptorship is several weeks spent with a physician practicing physical exam skills on that physician's patients, like M3's and M4's do. It's a step up from shadowing and it's nice to hone the physical exam and become less uncomfortable with patients. Research is a necessary part of a résumé for competitive specialties like dermatology or radiology. It's either basic, in a lab; or clinical, in a practice.)

Also on the medical student's mind is money. She is living off of loans, and loans only come during the semester. So how will she eat if she doesn't get a paid internship? So she applies frantically to things. There are plenty of opportunities.

I applied for three research programs and a preceptorship. Yesterday afternoon I found out that I was not accepted into any of these.

And my summer-plan failure was dramatic. I had put effort into two of the research program applications and was reassured that I would, in fact, get into them. For one, I spent half a day commuting to a different town to meet my potential preceptor; for another, I contacted three or four physicians by cell, email, and office only to receive no news, not even a "we're not interested." This made me very confused and disappointed.

The readings were eerily relevant, especially the Gospel:
Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." ...So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, "Children, have you caught anything to eat?" They answered him, "No."
I was like St. Peter: when it came to the summer plans, I decided myself that I was going to do something that measured to my own standards. This was a human decision; God's will was not really part of it. (I only ever see that my decisions exclude God in hindsight. I need to get better at discernment!) I said to myself, "I'm going to apply for some research programs," and off I went, without really consulting the Master of my life.

But I was reassured, because the Gospel continued:
So he said to them, "Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something." So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. ... Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you just caught." So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come, have breakfast." And none of the disciples dared to ask him, "Who are you?" because they realized it was the Lord. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish.
So, not to worry. When the Lord sees fit, He will instruct me to my benefit and, if I hear and obey, I will find something (153 somethings, to be exact).

This morning, I reflected on why He went to such lengths to prevent me from doing something this summer. I remembered that my summers during college were chaotic times where I stopped praying regularly and got really stressed. Suppose the failure of all my attempts this summer is Christ saying, "this summer, I want you to live your vocation, not regret that you haven't." How kind of Him! He wants to prevent me from grief and lost graces. I went from confused, sad and stressed to confident and victorious.

Today's missal explains my feelings. Today's responsorial psalm:
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
The joyful shout of victory
in the tents of the just
The feeling of victory comes with becoming just. I was just because I surrendered my summer to Him (as I might have done at the outset), admitting my proper place and His. Finally, the feeling of security comes with being safe from my opponents (the rejection from the opportunities, my mental image of an empty-looking résumé, my financial worries, my drive to do something big and flashy). One who belongs to Christ cannot be punished, like Ss. Peter and John are undefeatable in today's first reading:
After threatening them further,
they released them,
finding no way to punish them....
May we each have the strength to accept the victory we are offered! If you read this, please pray for my test on Monday, the biggest test of the four I have left before May 18 signals the beginning of this marvelous, mysterious summer.


  1. Praying for you! Your summer planning sounds much like mine as I got turned down by all the internships I applied for while I watched many other nursing students being offered positions. It was a struggle but I came to very similar realizations as you. It's nice to know other people are going through similar things! God bless!

    1. Vivien, thank you so much for commenting. I feel like you: it's nice to know other people are struggling, too. I hope we both find opportunities this summer.

      Thank you for choosing nursing--a beautiful profession and the ultimate in patient advocacy. God reward you and guide you through your career and life!