The Real (Un)Reason

It’s 11 pm on a weeknight, and I’m typing furiously at my Macbook, trying to nail down a thesis despite its best attempts to elude me. Hunched over in our darkened living room, I know that I need to be at Abbotsford Hospital by 7 am tomorrow morning. I am scheduled for a set of four twelve-hour shifts over the weekend and they just so happen to coincide with the deadline for a term paper for my Masters of Spiritual Theology at Regent College. Something has got to give — unfortunately it looks like it might be my REM cycle. Yet there’s a strange sort of comfort in the déjà vu of a midnight crisis/life-balance fail: a lot about this situation reminds me of my time at Trinity Western.

I graduated Trinity in April 2015, started a nursing job in June, and began a Masters in September. Since then it’s been a maelstrom of working in Abbotsford, living in Langley, and studying in Vancouver. Obviously, my past year of “post-grad-transition” has been a slew of (empirically appraised) “irrational” life decisions. In my defence, I appeal to a Brian Andreas quote my roommates and I have hanging above our kitchen sink (the holiest of spaces), which reads: “There are things you do because they feel right and they may make no sense and they may make no money and they may be the real reason we are here: to love each other and to eat each other’s cooking and to say that it was good.” We trade off dishes duty under this gracious mentorship, and while Andreas is certainly no Pascal, this quote resonates with me in light of some of the “nonsensical” decisions I’ve made this past year. I turned down a full time nursing job for a casual position. I put off paying down student loans in order to fund my tuition for a three-year Masters program that seems outwardly unrelated to my field. And I am living far away from both work and school, putting in up to ten hours of commuting a week.

Yet, when I reflect on these choices, I can see the impetus behind them. I have always loved theology (as my Kierkegaard-obsessed years at TWU testify), and working part-time allows for me to invest in this. My decision to live in Langley instead of Vancouver reflects a choice to continue investing in my Trinity and church family — I do not regret these “irrationalities” in the least. It comes down to a choice to prioritize balance in my life, though I am the first to admit that it has not been easy. But even as midnight nears and I am on the brink of a set of shifts, even as I fumble through the early mornings on the bus or at the bedside, the reality of where I am testifies to the blessing manifest in my life. I am writing a paper on how the theology of suffering applies to nursing as Kingdom work. I know that my roommates will be up in the morning before I leave, we live the rhythms of mission and discipleship and play together.  And I will spend tomorrow on the unit, a generous opportunity to give healing, blessing and grace as I have received.

Post– graduation is not about leaving behind the variety of student life and embracing the cold, singular-focused “real world”, but instead about tying together the blessings of community, of learning, and of work into a way of life. The opportunities Trinity provided me foreshadowed the choices I have made, choices to embrace life in all its complexity and apparent fragmentation. I am a nurse, an aspiring theologian, a sister, a friend, and the journey of this balancing act has turned out to be one of the richest and most vivid media of grace that I have ever known.