“And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when He saw their faith, He said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” When Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.” [Luke 5:18-26]
Now, that may seem like an odd passage to read for my graduation speech. But I’ll bring it full circle.
I can’t tell you how many people over my 3 years here have commented on my joy. And many of you probably don’t realize that every time you’ve made that comment, you’re reminding me that our God answers prayers. Prior to coming to IHI, I went through a rough season of life and I questioned His goodness. I felt Him leading me to Image, even though I’d had no intentions of moving to Tulsa and had only interviewed here because our family doctor back in IN (Dr. Brechner) was a former chief and spoke so highly of IHI. However, I knew that I wanted to obey God even if it went against what I wanted. So I ranked IHI #1. And then Match Day came and I matched and reality hit: I was about to move to Tulsa alone and away from my family and friends. I had so many fears: the biggest fear was that I’d be placed in a class of people who have no desire to hang out with each other. Boy, was I wrong there 😉 We’re basically all obsessed with each other to the point that it makes others a little scared of us 🙂
But in that season leading up to moving, I became consumed with doubt—doubting myself and doubting the God I’d always trusted–every previous situation that had caused any doubt suddenly resurfaced at once. I felt hopeless. My deepest prayer was that God would give me joy. I journaled every single night begging God to give me joy again. I read books about God answering impossible prayers, because I felt this prayer was impossible.
When it came time to actually move, I really didn’t think I could do it. I was paralyzed with fear and doubt. But my amazing parents—like the friends in the story—loved me enough and trusted Jesus enough that I remember them saying to me “We’re going to get you down to Tulsa because we believe this is where God led you.” And they lowered me through the roof of my doubt and despair into the midst of Jesus. Because you see, that’s the special thing about this place. Every single physician here knows and loves Jesus and lives as His hands and feet. So when you come here, whether as a resident, faculty, or patient, you are walking straight into the midst of Jesus.
I remember being on the way to the ice cream social and asking, “God, am I supposed to be here? I thought I was following you but I’m so filled with doubt, please just tell me am I supposed to be here?” And about 2 sentences into his talk at the ice cream social, Dr. Duininck starts to say “Now some of you may be wondering if you’re really supposed to be here. Doubt anything else you want, but don’t doubt the fact that you’re supposed to be here. God wants you here.” And it’s like a light switch went off in my heart and those words were the exact reminder from the Lord through Dr. Duininck that this is where God wants me. Thank you, Dr. Duininck, for sharing those words—they were so timely and changed the trajectory of my time here.
And to my parents—thank you for all you’ve done for me, for praying me into this world as your miracle baby after 8 years of praying and trusting Him. But wow, wasn’t I worth the wait? 😉
Thank you, Dad, for keeping the vision alive of how I can serve Jesus through medicine even when I wanted to give up so many times along the way, for sending me a verse and encouragement every morning, and having dad jokes that most of my class has seen screenshots of. Thank you, Mom, for waking up early to call me when I’m driving home post-call or staying up late when I got off work late, so that I have someone to talk to on the way home, cry to about the hard patient stories, celebrate the exciting patient stories and mostly so I could stay awake. Thank you both for loving me when I’ve been hard to love, for trusting Jesus and following Him no matter the cost because you know He is worth it all, setting the greatest example for Roshan and me. Thank you to the friends and family who are watching who have sent texts, called me, commented on my social media posts, and spent time helping me along this journey. I love you all and guess what—I’m going to have a lot more free time to see you now!
The Lord has showed me that obedience to His plan—even if it wasn’t what I wanted or I don’t fully understand—leads to joy. Over these past 3 years, as you all can testify—God has restored my joy 100 times over. Most people hear my laugh before you see me walking down the halls. You see me dancing and having fun, but I remember the days and nights of tears. So I want to echo the sentiments of the man in the story and give God all the glory. Anything good or joyful you’ve seen in me these past 3 years, it’s all because of Him. He alone is worthy and the source of my joy.
And there are extraordinary things that happen here, when a bunch of imperfect people follow a perfect, loving, good God.
Thank you to Adam and Hillary Greer for graciously letting me be part of your family and live with y’all initially—you made the transition so much easier.
Norma, I know you wish you could be here tonight, but I also know you’re watching online. I will say a lot more in person, but thank you for the countless nights spent in your kitchen and living room, talking and laughing. I’ve said this before and I’ll keep saying it: you are the hidden treasure of Image. I sure am glad I found you early on—some of my favorite memories took place in your home. You have taught me so much about cooking, hosting, Jesus, and how to love well. I love you so much, Norma. You have been one of my best friends here.
Heidi Lee—I know you’re watching right now…from Hawaii. I am forever grateful to Jeremy for pairing us as mentor and mentee my intern year. You are my adventure buddy, my complete opposite in personality, yet you’re the friend that sticks closer than a sister. Thank you for walking alongside me the past 3 years.
Speaking of some of my best friends, please remember to pray for Leah Shell because, as many of you have recently been asking her, what is she going to do when I’m gone? Love you, Leah. Unicorns 4eva.
Roshan, I feel like I’ve known you my whole life. You’re like a brother to me. Thanks for watching the puppies tonight and for making me laugh every day and in every season. Sorry about that one time I washed your suit. Thanks for being gracious and forgiving. Thanks for coming to Tulsa, traveling to Italy, and calling me randomly to talk about everything and nothing. I love you, Roo!
Admin ladies, Suite 200 clinical staff (Jennifer, Brandy, Alexis, Hannah, Danielle, Misty, Siegrid, Tammy), Good Sam staff—thank you for all the fun, laughs, and stories we’ve shared over these years. Thank you for sharing your life with me and putting up with the endless pics of my fur babies Winston and Houston. Special extra shout out to Jennifer who has been my MA all 3 years, making everyone else jealous that I have such a great MA. Our patients love you and I love you. You have made my residency so full of laughter and fun. Thanks for going out in the snow with me, bringing in your piglets for me to hold, loving my Houston and Winston, and celebrating miracles in our patients’ lives. You sure you don’t want to move up north? 😉
Onto a few more extraordinary people I’ve watched these past 3 years.
I’ve seen the way Dr. Crouch cries every time he talks about God’s faithfulness and how he loves to sing the words that describe his life “I surrender all.” I’ve seen Dr. Place, Dr. Hildebrand, and Dr. Rylander work tirelessly to serve patients and serve all of us residents in the middle of this COVID pandemic—this is the best place to work when a pandemic hits because these are people who will welcome questions and respond with love.
I was once in a delivery with Dr. Howard and watched a patient get upset with everyone in the room, to the point that every nurse walked out once the baby was delivered and safe, then when we finally had dealt with the postpartum hemorrhage and were still being yelled at, I was so ready to take off my gloves and gown and walk out, then I turned back and saw Dr. Howard kneeling down and cleaning the blood off the floor because she didn’t want the patient to have to look at that after having a baby, even though Dr. Howard had been at the hospital since 8am and it was now about 10pm. That is one of the clearest real life pictures I’ve ever seen of servant leadership. Thank you for modeling that for me.
Amanda Cupp has faithfully prayed and texted me every single week of my 3 years here. She is a true friend—thank you for the countless dinners, laughs, conversation, and love.
Dr. Morgan—thanks for being real with me and being my academic advisor these 3 years. And for loving Starbucks as much as I do!
I love that Dr. Hildebrand actually catches all my pop culture references and makes many more of her own, all while pushing us to be the best doctors we can be—I remember telling her at the end of “feedback” my first week having her as my attending on FMIS: “hey, maybe we can be real life friends?” I’m so happy that “maybe” became reality.
Dr. Williston, I’ve seen you walk into the Report Room at midnight just because you thought I may be lonely on call and you’d stay up and talk with me; I’ve also seen the way you advocate for the people you love—I am so grateful for your friendship and the countless ways you have loved me so well.
I’ve watched L’dogg and Kim invest countless hours pouring into each of us residents—and I count y’all as some of my dearest friends. Thank you.
And to all the other attendings: I had written things about each of you, but you can blame this 5 minute time limit for me having to cut out some of my originally 10 minute speech 😉 [For those of you who were at graduation, you know my speech still ended up being over 10 minutes lol…but I blame a mic batteries dying and excess laughter as the reason for going so far over my time limit…]
To my class: you are each amazing and wonderful. Another prayer that God answered 100x over. One of my greatest joys has been living as one of the “12 disciples” through these 3 years of residency with y’all.
We have seen extraordinary things these past 3 years and I have no doubt we will continue to see God do extraordinary things in the future both here at IHI and wherever we all end up (and after last night’s speech: I guess now we MUST have a class reunion in Dr. Crouch’s backyard down the road).
So, to close, I will resonate with the sentiment of the people in the story—let me read verse 26 again: “And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”
God’s grace in my life today:
July 1, 2020: the first day I’m officially done with 25 years of education! He has been so faithful, kind, good, loving, and so much more along the way. It is by God’s grace alone that I made it to this point. Soli Deo Gloria!