For most of my life, I envisioned one sure thing in my future—becoming a doctor. When I was a little girl and adults asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, this was always my answer. As I grew older and progressed through school, medicine was the only career that I felt could perfectly blend my love for science with my desire to help people and to serve the Lord to the best of my ability with how He had gifted me.
During college, the road to medical school defined my education. It was the thing that everyone knew about me. I was president of the pre-med club, and I had earned the scores to take me almost anywhere. Before I knew it, I was a first-year medical student enrolled at Vanderbilt University on scholarship. The dream of a small girl had come true, and from the outside, it looked better than even I could have envisioned.
However, as I flew through the first few months of this dream come to life, a terrifying truth was becoming more and more evident to me each day—medical school was no longer where I wanted to be.
As everyone around me seemed to grow more passionate and more dedicated by the day, I felt lost, alone, and out of place. I was altogether losing my desire to work in medicine. I was confused and angry with God for carving out this path when all I could think about now was jumping ship.
At first, I was too anxious and ashamed to tell many people. This was what I had worked for and what I had felt God’s call toward for so long. How could I throw it all away?
What many people didn’t know is that I had felt God tugging my heart toward ministry for quite some time. For most of my life, I thought that medicine would be my ministry. But what I was beginning to realize was that God was changing my desires. I realized that He might be calling me to more direct ministry. He might be asking me to step out and to let go of something that I had defined myself by for so long—to strip me of this identity I had built for myself.
We all have some form of identity that we have carefully constructed for ourselves, often over a number of years or even over a lifetime. As fallen creatures, we are easily lured to define our lives by the things of this world—by our successes, by our careers, by our reputation. I didn’t realize how much I bought into it until the Lord challenged me to give it all away.
Perhaps, you have found yourself in a similar place before. Maybe you felt cornered by others’ expectations for your life and career, or maybe you felt enslaved by your own thirst for success. Perhaps, like me, you changed direction and couldn’t help but fear for the time you might have wasted and the people you disappointed.
Over these months, I came to realize the truth behind the statement God works in mysterious ways. Why on earth would God allow us to feel so secure in a plan that He later diverts? Why would He align our steps only to redirect them? Why would He lead us away from seemingly good things?
We may not have any idea how to answer these questions, and we probably never will on this earth. However, we can find comfort in that “the Lord’s ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).
We can know with certainty that God uses these times in our lives as an incredible instrument in teaching us how to lean on Him better. As a trusted friend and pastor of mine said, the decision to quit medical school rocked everything for me. It required stepping out into complete unknown as I let go of an incredible opportunity. I didn’t know what was coming next. I risked the disappointment of family and friends, and I risked regret, but stepping into this time of uncertainty was exactly what I needed for the Lord to remind me what trust looks like. And I couldn’t be more thankful for it.
In times of great change, of fear, or of uncertainty, it is my wish for you that the Lord will lead you back to trusting Him more and that trials will become opportunities for boldness and growth. After all, “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). God already knows the paths and steps that He has designed for us, and in this we must find great comfort and assurance.
So, I confess: I am a medical school dropout, and my life is better for it. Our God knows what He is up to, and this is the best news that we could ever ask for.