Well, not hell.
But it sure felt like it when I left the doctor’s office that day.
A few years ago, I had a doctor’s appointment right around the time Matt was considering going to med school.
Matt and I were in the midst of weighing it all: loans, our age, location, when to start a family… The usual stuff.
So I get to the doctor’s office. My beloved doctor had moved away, so I was seeing a new doctor this day. Just got out of medical school.
I decide that she would be a great person for me to ask some of my “What’s this next stage in med school life going to look like?” questions.
So, I open up to her.
The conversation was not what I anticipated.
Let’s just call her…mmm, Dr. Jaded.
It went something like this:
Me: “Hi, I’m Liane. My husband is thinking about going to medical school. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”
Dr. Jaded: “What specialty is he interested in?”
Me: (I tell her)
Dr. Jaded: “All [those kinds of doctors] are #*%@#$#!@!”
Me: (after a few seconds of sitting in quiet shock) “Wwell, I hope if he goes into that field, he would help to change that perception.”
Dr. Jaded: (having misheard me) “Oh, he’ll change alright! They all do. And if he’s in it for the money, he should forget about it, because doctors aren’t paid like they used to!”(with eye roll and sarcastic smirk)
Me: (feeling defensive of my husband) “Well, he’s NOT.”
(Then I go into some unnecessary explanation about his right motivations…yada yada…until I hear Jesus whisper “It’s okay, I’m your defender. You don’t have to defend.” So I stop.)
Then, I don’t know what could have possessed me other than blind optimism or just reckless stupidity, but I proceeded to entrust more of myself to her with further questions (why???!)
Me: “We’re wanting to start a family. Did you know anyone in your class who started a family during med school? Is it do-able? When might be the best time?”
Dr. Jaded: Oh, don’t expect to have your husband around. He’ll sleep many nights at the hospital. If you don’t live by family, you’ll be raising those kids on your own. It’ll be really stressful.”
Knowing we likely would not be living near any of our family or anybody that we had any history with, my heart sank.
All I could think for the rest of the appointment was “Not safe. This person is not safe. Not safe. Not safe. Don’t say anything else, Liane.”
Now, in fairness, I have since learned that some of what she said is true. Especially during residency, you don’t see your med spouse very often at all. There are nicknames like “med-school widow”. And raising a family in some medical marriages is said to be more or less like single-parenthood.
I’m all for honesty and setting realistic expectations. Expectations are key. I never want someone to shower me with fake sunshine and rainbows. I get that sometimes there are hard truths that need to be heard and swallowed. BUT it was the WAY she said these hard truths that seemed utterly hopeless and horrible. There was not a hint of encouragement.
Having just gone through the med-school/residency ringer for something like 12 years, she seemed to come out of it with a giant chip on her shoulder and proceeded for the rest of the appointment to talk above my head to apparently make me feel small and to display her brilliance. None of what she said was helpful.
After the appointment, I got into my car and teared up.
And I said out loud, “What was that?”
Then the Holy Spirit reminded me that my fight is not with this doctor. That my fight is not against people (or situations) at all but against the one very real Enemy who is constantly trying to discourage my soul and feed me lies to breed hopelessness and resentment.
And I said, “Her voice is not your voice, Lord. What do You have to say about this?”
And immediately, He brought to my mind these words:
“Liane, med school IS going to be hard. You WILL have to make sacrifices. BUT TAKE HEART! I AM GOING WITH YOU! GREATER IS HE WHO IS IN YOU THAN HE WHO IS IN THE WORLD.” – I John 4:4
And that’s all I needed to hear. When He speaks, all other voices fade.
Then my tears again, as they so often seem to do when He speaks, turned from sad, hopeless tears to glad, hopeful tears. I held onto this promise all the way home, repeating it back to myself, nodding in agreement. And by the time I got home, my heart wasn’t afraid anymore.
Fast forward to today – And He HAS been with us this first year of medical school:
- He has shown us ways to stay connected with each other. For instance, Matt studies at home, so I do get to see him.
- He has even made a way for us to go on dates, which is a joy.
- He has given us community and Christian fellowship that points us to the Gospel, which is a huge encouragement to me.
- He has led us to a church where I have grown more deeply in the last 8 months of understanding what His grace and redemption are than I have ever learned before.
- He has rescued me from days when I lose sight of His promises, always drawing me back to the truth so that I can experience his joy and peace.
I remember that day in the doctor’s office parking lot when I start to feel concern about the future. How He quieted me then with the promise of Himself. How He quiets me now with Himself.