Monday, October 28, 2013

Walter Reed

   Imagine. You are walking through the halls of a new place. You are overwhelmed by the history of of the establishment you currently tread on. You are taking in the sights and sounds and choking down the fact that you are now an employee and part of an incredible effort. You stumble through halls that look the same and attempt to find your way through a maze of halls and people all seeming to know where they are going. You then shut out the overwhelmed feeling and begin to observe those around you. Camouflage. Various strains and colors, but lots of camouflage. Also, people with artificial limbs and wheelchairs and crutches. This is expected, after all you are in a hospital but something is different about these people. There are young and average weight and healthy. They do not seem to have some disease process and age has not had a chance to cause this type of deterioration. Many of these bear an obvious traumatic experience. Something that happened quickly and unexpectedly.

   You begin to look into the eyes of these people, beyond their missing arms, legs, sometimes entire lower body. You ignore the deformities and the scarred flesh or bandaged wounds. You consider the person, and look into their eyes: their very soul speaks through their eyes and you see a resilient and determined person. Sometimes you see despair and distress. Whatever you see, you begin to realize why they are here and what you are becoming a part of. This is where their healing begins and this is where you step up to the plate. Your problems, your struggles, your frustrations you choose to leave in the parking garage. You walk into the building with the determination to help bring hope to the lives of the men and women who boarded a boat or a plane with the knowledge that they may never come back. They protect the freedoms that you and I rarely acknowledge. They have seen the lack of freedom. They have seen poverty. They have seen lifeless bodies. At the end of the day, you really have no idea what they have seen. The thing you know is it was there calling to go and they took on the challenge. They bear the external and internal wounds as a result. They have returned with lives forever changed and a new set of challenges, sometimes as basic as learning to eat with no hands or walk with prosthetic legs. They have returned and seek help from you.

   While the "you" is a large group of people, I am so thankful to be a part of it and living something that was a far away dream of mine a thousand miles away. I began a new job last week and it is such an incredible opportunity. Yes, there are parts of it that are awful-that is life. If it didn't have challenges, we wouldn't be better. My biggest advice is to find what you love and do it. Someone once said, "If you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life!" So very true! Once upon a time, I sat as an English major in my dorm and laughed at my nursing major roommates (working extremely hard and studying) and said, "I am so glad I am not doing that. I would never do nursing!" Six months later I was busting my butt to get into their class and three years later I graduated by the grace of God and the help of so many people. Countless phone calls to my mom, ensuring that I still had a couch to sleep on in case I failed this test and got kicked out of the program. There was a day I distinctly remember walking into a professors office and having a breakdown. Disheveled and sleep-deprived I looked up at her with my wild hair and my tear-stained eyes and asked her, "Do you honestly think this is for me. If you don't, I understand. You have done this long enough to know and I need to know." This woman will always have my respect because of how much she poured into her students. She would come in on the weekends to give us tests and hold reviews. She would stay late at night and come in early for each little question we had. Here I stood, before her, ready to walk out and change careers completely. She stared me right back into the eyes with a look of determination and said, "Grace, I don't think you can do it, I KNOW you can and I am going to help you!" She set me up with a wonderful person who became my study partner and a best friend and the rest is history.

   Wow ,that was a tangent. My point is, you can do anything that you put your mind to. Don't think that it's too late to find what you love. You only get to live once. Making money isn't everything. I will probably never be a millionaire monetarily but the fact that I love what I do and get to work and play hard makes me feel like the most wealthy person ever! Life is more than we limit ourselves to. That is why God is so important. He can see our potential, beyond what we imagine, and He knows the outcome!

   This has already been too long, but I encourage you to choose to be happy today. Even if you work a job you do not love, you are only responsible for your actions and reactions. I'm posting a photo from this weekend. Some friends and I took a trip to Shenandoah to catch the colors. This little guy was such a delight to hang out with!

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