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Going Back to School at Fifty? A Bit Scary

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I am now committed to going back to school online, possibly starting this April. I found my school, Grand Canyon University by accident, mixed into a mismash of other online schools in an internet ad. I was originally going to get my B.A. in English Literature, since I love to write and hope to make some money at some point in my life. But as I was going through their Web site, I found they had a B.A. in Christian Studies. And like a bolt of lightening, God told me that I should do this. And then I asked God what I would do with a B.A .in Christian Studies? I am a strong Christian, have accepted God as my Savior in my heart, and truly believe in His gifts.

I was an R.N. for seventeen years before becoming disabled from Lupus and Fibromyalgia in 1999. I no longer have a nursing license, and it didn’t make sense for me to get my B.S. in Nursing. I knew I could never do clinical nursing again, and that’s all of nursing I would want to do.

But as I prayed, God told me to think about becoming a hospice or hospital chaplain. It was an AHA! moment. I worked in trauma for ten years and oncology for four years. I took care of families of sudden death patients, and I took care of hospice patients and their families. I helped take care of my wonderful father-in-law when he was dying of ALS (Lou Gehring’s Disease). We talked about things he couldn’t talk about to the other members of his family. He told me of his fear of pain while dying. I’d had conversations like that when I worked night shift on the oncology unit. Patients lie awake, thinking about death and dying, and will talk to you if you let them. Just sitting down in a patient’s room and saying, “How are you doing, really?” can start a conversation the patient doesn’t want to talk about to his family or friends.

I’ve also cared for the families of dying patients, listening, praying, soothing their fears. People say that those who work with cancer patients are special. I never thought I was special, I was just sharing my heart with them. And I have to admit there is something gained by helping people through the death process. It gives you a special feeling in your heart, and I believe its God blessing you for helping.

The only thing that was holding me back was money. We, like many Americans, are very strapped for money right now. My husband is working two jobs and picking up the slack at home that I can’t do because my Lupus and Fibro are flaring right now. That means a lot of painful, horribly fatigued days and three times a week in the therapy pool doing physical therapy. I tend to do the “clerical” work for the house- renewing the dog license, taking my son to acting and swimming lessons, helping him with his homework, and paying some bills. But this month, the “fog” that comes with a fibro flare threw off my math and my bank account is in the negative I was crying so much my husband could hardly understand me. He promised to look at his checking account and see how much he has left after he pays the mortgage. He’s working six nights a week and I pray every day that we’ll get a few extra dollars so he won’t have to work all these shifts. And he doesn’t complain. He is a Blessing from God. We’ve been married for twelve and a half years and have had our share of blowouts, but when I found Jesus and let him into my heart, the blowouts stopped. I realized it didn’t help the situation.

So tonight when my academic advisor called me from Phoenix, he said I could possibly start in April, after I fill out my request for federal funding. He said they don’t look at how much you make a year, or how long you’ve been out of school. They know that a lot of people want to go back to school, whether to advance their careers, or find a new career. So tomorrow, I’ll go online and fill out the necessary forms and pray for the best. The world could use more hospice or hospital chaplains, and I think I could do a good job. Going to church and reading the Bible adds to my course work; it will just make me better at my job.

And if I get paid or not, I’ll feel like I’m contributing to God’s great world, and that will be enough for me. So, at fifty, I’ve found my calling. They say you have three careers in your life. My first was as a night manager of a Jack In the Box; my second was nursing. But I think the third will be the one that means the most to me and I can serve the Lord at the same time. It’s a win-win situation.


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