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Friday, October 25, 2013

Failings Exposed

Yesterday I listened as another writer taught a class on developing characters, reminding us to include some flaws or, at least, some failings in the hero of the story; nobody’s perfect, after all. While I don’t write fiction, I would have to agree that I had struggled with issues that have caused me more than a bit of grief. So, in the interest of full-disclosure, I’m not leaving out what came next in my life’s journey.

To bring the story back to the last point of reference*, I had just completed a most fulfilling assignment on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation. I’d learned as much from my trainees as they’d learned from me. All twenty-one had qualified as Registered Emergency Medical Technicians for the new ambulance service I’d helped develop on the tribal land. It was time to leave the service in their competent hands. With gratitude in my heart for all that God did in and through me, I drove away. Truly, I never even imagined the changes that would come into my life and behavior following this mountaintop experience.

I returned to my parents’ home, and though I’d been asked to take over the manager’s position of the local ambulance service, I felt that my adrenaline had been depleted sufficiently for that decade, at least. I did continue helping out as an attendant or driver when needed, but I searched for another employment option—the next step in finding a life’s occupation.

As with all previous summers of my young adult life, employment opportunities didn’t just jump into my well-educated lap. In fact, I continued to hear potential employers tell me I was too educated for the position, or my degree was too narrow. It’s hard to grab ahold of the idea that a degree in Pre-Medical Science would be too narrow for a job at the check-out stand of the local grocery store or as the Assistant Manager of a fast food restaurant; but alas, such was the excuse for not hiring me.

I knew that I’d always find employment as a nursing aid at any nursing home or hospital, but I’d done that all through my undergraduate study. I wanted something new. Okay, I do admit a bit of pride entered the picture. Though I really enjoyed working with the elderly nursing home patients and the more short-term patients in the hospitals, the entire time I worked as an aid, I told myself I wouldn’t do it once I had completed my degree. Of course, that was way back when I never considered the possibility that I’d not get into medical school.

 At twenty-five years of age, I had time to look for something new. I scoured the Want Ads of the newspaper every day, filling in on the ambulance as needed. Of course, having lived on my own for most of the seven years since graduating from high school, I looked forward to leaving the temporary shelter of my parents’ home again. No way I could do that without a job.

Finally, I landed a job as a medical transcriber in one of the area hospitals. My typing speed was “adequate,” and they expected it’d improve with the many hours a day of practice. Here, my narrow degree bought me the hired sticker. No one would have to teach me how to spell those complicated medical terms; I spoke medicalese fluently.

Before I’d completed my orientation week, I’d moved to another lodging. It was one of those friend-of-a-friend things. I didn’t really know the girl, but the gal who’d trained me in the ambulance biz knew her well, suggesting I get a place with her.

Yes, I knew that she owned and operated her own beauty shop, and that she and her truck driver husband had been in the throes of domestic conflict for some time, but that’s about all I knew. Naturally, the details of this same-age girl came to me through our mutual friend, who also knew that the lady needed a roommate to be able to afford to move out of the couple’s home. Sounded like the opportunity I’d been waiting for, according to my ambulance friend. Having seen the size of her husband, I had my doubts.

While I feared his anger would be focused on me if I joined his wife in a move to a separate lodging, I should have been more concerned over the change that would come into my own life. As all young women my age, living with roommates was just part of paying the bills. Sometimes our personal habits irritated each other, but their own habits never became a part of my life.

Things are different now, but back in those days, homosexuality never entered the picture. The issues of conflict revolved around whose turn it was to clean the bathroom, or buy the milk. Normally, my taste in men differed from my roommates enough that there wasn’t jealousy on that level to create tension in the home.

Other issues slowly began to emerge, and unexpectedly, my own home-grown wall of beliefs began to crack. Never before had they been seriously challenged. I believed in God from my earliest remembrances, and though I’d had my time of rebellion as an adolescent, accepting right from wrong had never been an issue. However, when I moved into the mobile home on the other side of town, the winds of change began to blow. A wild side of me I’d not yet met surfaced.

And, what did God do? Well, nothing to stop me; God gave me full rein to make the wrong choices—over and over again. However, God’s Word says that He will never leave me nor forsake me, even when I dump Him for the pleasures of this world’s destructive ways. Still, God kept His eye on me, until just the right moment; then, God moved in.

*Posts related to ambulance service on the reservation began with
****Failings Exposed, Continued…Next Post


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