“I can do all things through Christ.”
I made a sign with these words and reflected on how this verse has truly impacted me in the past few years. It is much easier said in church than believed in everyday life. This is a verse I have heard my entire life, but realized that it only became close to me when Jordan entered PA school. When we got the news that he got into Emory, I was so excited but also worried of the unknown. We had visited Emory for the interview and also visited again to see the school and find a place to live. God opened doors before going to Atlanta. Emory was the first school Jordan got accepted to and my elementary school was the first job I accepted. There is a fear in accepting first offers, but God gave us a peace that only He could give.
As we walked into the PA office, we were greeted with this sweet woman that said, “Many marriages fall by the wayside in PA school.” What! I couldn’t believe that was said as my greeting. She probably followed with something encouraging, but I didn’t hear any of it. In my head, I knew Christ was the foundation to our marriage, it might be hard, but we will make it. The classes began and I became educated on the anatomy of the body. As I came home talking about my students, he came home talking about what part of the body he dissected. I was his patient only a few uncooperative times. It was a strange world for both of us, but his excitement made it worth it.
The more he learned, the more I learned. He would pass through his modules and I would miss him the more he studied. The selfishness within me came out. He had to devote his time to studying to make the best use of this program. In the moments where I thought he would forget me, he would remind me of what an amazing man I married. This came with random acts of kindness. He would sneak flowers into the car as I shopped for groceries, take me to new restaurants, dance with me in the kitchen, write notes to me, do the chores around the house, and simply be there.
We went to Europe before the program began, but the adventures didn’t stop there. We took weekend trips to pick apples at Mercier Orchards, rented a cabin with friends, visited the Stone Mountain laser show, dragged Christmas trees up two flights of steps, sent flowers to my job, drove in from out of town rotations for our anniversary, sipped chai lattes at Flying Biscuit, tried different chilis at the chili cook offs, climbed Stone Mountain, hiked through Sweetwater Park, went to dinner with friends, did indoor rock climbing, walked on campus, picked out a pup at a shelter, walked to get donuts at Sublime donuts, drove to see my grandparents in the mountains, ate hotdogs at Costco for Friday night dates, walked through Lullwater Park, camped at Tallulah Gorge, white watered in Blue Ridge, ate at the Sun Dial restaurant above the skyline, went to a Monster Truck rally, saw the Braves play, went to weddings and graduations out of town, fed animals through our car windows, Netflix marathons, watched a movie at the Fox, used a realtor app to drive after church on Sundays, made fires in the fireplace, tried and failed to make me workout, walked Bandit to the dog parks, made dinner with me, went on road trips with me, made coffee for me, got my lunch together for me, and called me beautiful every chance he got. That was an extremely long sentence, but the list goes on an on. I thought he would stop opening the car doors, going on adventures with me, and wouldn’t be there to hear the stories of my day. He has surprised me and has been everything a student and husband could be.
This adventure has taught me a lot about myself. I realized how selfish I can be. The moment he started studying, I would try to gain his attention. The moment he would try harder for a test, was also the moment I would be wanting his time. He would listen to podcasts, work through hundreds of powerpoints, watch videos and practice his skills as much as he could. The times he thought he wouldn’t retain anything became assuaged once he entered his second year into PA school. Rotations meant that life would change for the both of us, every five weeks.
He went from surgery, to internal medicine, to emergency medicine, to pediatrics, to emergency medicine again, to cardiology, to giving health care to migrant farm workers, to OB-GYN, to family medicine, to psychiatry, and soon to be pulmonology, hematology and oncology. Think about how his thoughts, specialties, and schedules had to change every five weeks! The stories and scenarios of people also changed. He would talk about PAs and doctors I would never meet, at places I would never enter. It was a complete mystery of where he went and what he did every day. I didn’t know if that rotation would be the one he would enter for a job upon graduation or if he would simply get through to meet expectations of the program. Our future could be dependent upon his experiences there. I simply tried to fill my time.
My world was completely different than his own. We would get to the dinner table, eat and then use it as a way to distract ourselves from the other. He would study and I would wood burn. When the second year began, I began the art of wood burning. It was my way of trying to support him. Sometimes support takes on different forms. It can be by making dinner, listening to those long days, leaving scripture on the mirror, or simply prayer. Prayer became essential. During the moments of wanting his time and crying in frustration, he gave. He always gave when it wasn’t convenient, listened when the rough days came, was positive on the days I was worrying about the future. He didn’t use this program as an excuse to stop being a good man and husband.
“Future” is the term that seems to be always weighing on my mind. My mother in love always said that her twenties were spent getting ready for her thirties. That has been exactly how I have felt. We have been thinking of where to live, what house we can afford, what church to be a part of, and what friends to invest in. Always wondering if God will open doors here for his job versus where our family lives. Will the people we have met here, become a second family to us? At these times of asking these questions aloud, Jordan would simply say “we can do all things through Christ,” or “everything will work out.” This verse is not easy to do.
My “all things” has mostly been to get through this program. I say it as if I am the one in the program, but any spouse knows what I am talking about. The stories that are shared become your stories. For the past two years, people would ask “How are you doing?” and I would respond with how Jordan was doing. They eventually started asking me ,”How’s Jordan doing?” That was the correct question. Jordan has been the reason behind all that I do.
Marriage is always a give and take. At times in this program, I can honestly say that I took and he gave. On certain rotations, he took and I gave. These two years have been so precious to me because I know that God has surrounded and protected this covenant between us. He has revealed Himself through each other. People may not understand why we rely on Christ or give Him glory for everything, but we are nothing within Him. He was the reason behind every kind act Jordan did for me. He is the source of joy in the times of the unknown. He will be the path to where Jordan gets a job, where we live, and what friends we have.
To the woman who said ,”Many marriages fall but the wayside in PA school,” I can see how that could be true. I have seen friendships and marriages split during this strenuous program. It has been hard to watch Jordan put so much time into studying. There have been plenty of times that I hated this program. I hated it for the wife and child left behind. I hated it for that friend who devoted so much time to studying that they lost themselves. I hated it for the wives in school with their families out of state.I hated it for the girls struggling between dating and career. I hated it for the moms with multiple children at home trying to support their husband through PA school. I hated it for the spouses who chose occupations that poured themselves out for others, and then needed to pour themselves out for their spouse. I simply hated it for many reasons. I am sure that many people can agree that PA school is so much of a sacrifice of time and money.
This program has come as a love-hate relationship. I have hated it for all of the reasons mentioned, but now I respect it. Emory has enlightened Jordan’s understanding of medicine. It has brought a joy and satisfaction within himself for failing at times and being extremely successful at times. His knowledge in this field has gone beyond what he ever experienced as a paramedic. He has come in contact with so many people that have become friends and potential coworkers. The comradery developed between all of the people in his cohort has truly brought out friendships for a lifetime. For the moments he was frustrated and I couldn’t relate to him, I thank the friends who were there to listen. Emory set him up for success. When he lost his grandparents within three days of each other, the staff at Emory showed grace. All the tests and dissections that he completed late in the night, laid the foundation for a successful year in rotations. The staff and supervisors over him in his rotations have been the individuals who have taken the time to write letters of recommendation for Jordan’s future job possibilities. Emory accepted Jordan and it opened doors for a lifetime.
I say all of this to simply show that we are reaching the end of this program with the complete acknowledgement that we did this “through Christ.” I am thankful for our marriage being strong and God repeatedly allowing us to give and take in all the moments it seemed impossible. I am thankful for Emory, for the friends we have made, and for giving me time to invest in a talent that God alone has given me.