Welcome to The Tearoom! This week we have Ivanna, a beautiful woman with a heart to serve others, sharing the story of her search for purpose beyond her career as a nurse. I’ve loved the process of seeing Ivanna write this post, as her words have encouraged and reminded me that I am more than just a mom and a wife. I hope you too find this post encouraging! Thanks so much for sharing Ivanna!
Useful: My profession as a registered nurse.
Not Useful: My love for reading, for thrift shopping, for poetry, or for wrapping my hair. I could go on and on.
My university degree is useful, but the rest of me is interesting at best and odd at worst. This sounds harsh. You would never say this outright to a friend, yet I was saying it to myself. I was never rude to myself about it; it wasn’t a hateful comment. It was simply a small misconception with extensive effects. This little lie was preventing me from living out my calling.
It started out as a healthy, productive journey into adulthood; I was pursuing goals that were fundamental to my life as a successful adult. They were essential goals to have. However, I completely lost focus of the other parts of me.
We are all multi-faceted masterpieces. It makes sense because we are made in the image of God and we attribute dozens of qualities to describe Him. He formed us similarly to Himself, with deep souls and dozens of pieces of identity. No one who looks at us, meets us, or even spends 24 hours getting to know us can see all that lays beneath the surface. Furthermore, it can take decades for us to know ourselves. I’m not sure if we ever truly peel back the final layer of identity.
My vocation is nursing and I’m passionate about it. My journey started halfway through high school and the rip currents of the process carried me through without time for anything else. In between applying to colleges, struggling through nursing school, and passing my certification exams, I pursued other interests, however, “real life” swept me out to the middle of the ocean.
When I graduated from college, I took the first job I was offered and dove headfirst into a hard year of learning to be a nurse. This busy, demanding profession (and the coinciding storybook romance with the man who’d become my husband) swept me off my feet. The novelty of the world of healthcare overwhelmed me.
Even if I was thinking about my life outside nursing, my job (in addition to my new husband) took so much energy and emotion that I did not give much thought to myself as anything more than a nurse.
Can you relate to that? Can you relate to the feeling of waking up one day and realizing that you are defined by one thing, one label, one job or title? Or maybe no one knows the way you define yourself? No one knows what you think is most interesting or defining about you, because you never made time for it, or you felt guilty for pursuing that part of you at the expense of more “important” parts of your life.
There are so many ways to fill in those blanks. Wife. Mother. Business woman. Administrator. Teacher. These are all good things. Any of these roles would be an honorable role to devote one’s self to. However, these roles are deep and can become all-consuming. Life has countless challenges that sweep us off our feet and quickly carry us out to the deepest waters. We don’t know how to get back to shore, back to ourselves in all of our fullness. We may have chosen our current path with enthusiasm, but the rip currents were stronger than expected and have carried us farther than we’d desired.
You are starting to wonder about the rest of your identity and why the rest of you feels trapped inside. You’ve pushed down what seemed useless or not worthy of attention, but it didn’t go away. In fact, it’s growing in strength and driving you crazy.
That was me.
Almost a year ago I found myself wondering, “Did God give me this love for writing as a side note? Did he wire me to love details and productivity by accident? Is my caring nursing practice supposed to get all my attention while my love for color and expression through style only gets attention occasionally?”
What surprised me was that I was asking these questions in the midst of beginning a 2-year journey working with the organization of my dreams as a nurse. That was my calling, wasn’t it? Wasn’t I supposed to feel fulfilled by that alone?
So as I sat in Texas, in training for joining with a non-profit charity organization as a nurse, I really hadn’t thought much about who I was outside of nursing. The rest of the world likes neat boxes and categories to help them understand us. So I had neatly defined myself as a nurse and the rest wasn’t that important.
Was being a nurse my calling or not? This path brings me great joy and I love helping people. My greatest character traits make me a very compassionate, positive nurse. However, I could no longer deny the other gifts God had given me. Did God accidentally drop those qualities into the pot of clay he was using to form me?
What happens when we let those pieces of us see the light of day? What will form from the seedlings of creativity and boldness we’ve kept hidden inside?
Maybe nothing. Or maybe something gloriously freeing.
When the thought entered my brain last summer that God made me on purpose, with all my passions and interests, quirks and biases, I wondered if he actually wanted me to use them. Could I ever be who he envisioned me to be without indulging and investing in ALL of me? I didn’t want to risk not finding out.
I spent time on my writing because maybe God would use it one day, but he definitely wouldn’t if I failed to do my part.
I indulged in colorful scarves and boldly wear them to represent my freedom and unique personality.
I feed my creativity by wearing clothes that make me happy and doodling in my bullet journal.
I dived into the world of blogging, productivity, and bullet journalling because it’s fun and it gives me purpose.
The time limits of a day can pressure us to keep doing what we’ve already mastered, or what pays the bills. For some, that happens to be what brings them most fulfillment. That’s a great season of life.
However, there are scores of us out there who can’t figure out what’s missing, especially when they are living in their “calling” already. I’ve found that my skill, knowledge and passion has only grown as I invest a bit more time to it each day. If we acknowledge that God made us uniquely and beautifully, with a myriad of pieces to our soul, it makes sense to give our full self to him. We can worship him with our hobbies, with our unique interests, and with our quirky passions.
People now know me as a nurse AND a writer AND a creative, idea-seeking woman. It brings me joy to know that I’m a great nurse, but I’m MORE than a nurse.
Ivanna is a nurse working overseas with Mercy Ships. She serves on the Africa Mercy, the largest non-governmental hospital ship. This ship visits developing countries to offer free surgery and medical training to the forgotten poor. She loves it, but there is more to her than that! She enjoys the art of head wrapping and thrift shopping. She writes about living intentionally in community, marriage, and the challenges of making a difference no matter which country she’s in.