Choosing to leave my comfortable, well-paying job last year was not an easy step to make. I had it good–for the first time in my life I had an office all to myself, an administrative assistant, and a 401K. I was feeling mighty blessed. But, the truth is I wasn’t fully happy. After I got the hang of it, my job wasn’t really challenging and I found myself growing bored. However, It was a good space to be in for two years because I was able to develop who “Shanta” was outside of career and school. I learned how to cook more creatively, take care of myself physically (up until that point I was a couch potato), and tap into my creative side by learning how to refurbish furniture. I really could have stayed there forever.
But it wasn’t enough.
Deep down inside I was still unsatisfied. I didn’t feel like I was truly making a difference in the tangible way I wanted to. My mind thought back to my comment I made during my senior year in college: ” I want to fight health disparities.” But I pushed that thought off and tried to go the way “I” wanted. But, I knew God was calling me to make that change and I knew it was leading me to go into public health and pursue a Masters of Public Health. I was faced with people as well as my own self questioning my desire. “Why do another degree when you have a PhD already?”
But I felt that is what I was called to do, so I applied to only one school-Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the number 1 school of public health. I knew that if God wanted me to go there that I would get in and I did. My time at Hopkins was wonderful– I met wonderful people, became one of the presidents of my class, and threw myself into epidemiology and my other coursework.
Epidemiology became a struggle for me. I was trying to hold onto my Microbiology training–after all I spent 6 years doing a PhD in that subject, so how could I walk away from it? Epidemiology for me was a way for me to keep Microbiology. I would be able to become an Infectious Disease Epidemiologist and try to tackle health disparities that way by focusing on tracking and monitoring sexually transmitted infections in minority communities.
I tried to make that work and I started to feel that conflict of leaving behind Microbiology and turning to what God was showing me to do: health disparities from a policy angle and to focus on childhood obesity and chronic diseases. It was hard letting go of my Microbiology. I felt like a traitor and that I wasted all of this time. Why didn’t I know this from the beginning? Why didn’t I know health disparities policy was the way I was supposed to go from the beginning?
However, with this new resolution, I made the switch mid way into my 11 month MPH program. I got a new thesis adviser and began to work on a paper focused on Diabetes and educational attainment in minority populations. I am pleased to say it is in preparation for publication.
Although I am on the right track now, I find myself in a space of transition. For me, this meant the end of school and the start of a job. A job that has not come to fruition yet. The successful interview that hasn’t taken place yet.
A place where you find your faith and everything you value being questioned. Most people wait to testify when they come through the storm. But I am in the midst of the storm. I have questioned my purpose: am I truly on the right path? Should I have stayed in my comfortable position? Should I have come to Hopkins?
I am not where I thought I would be. I thought I would be working now. But I am not yet. And this is the space where I feel God is stretching me the most. I am being handed a character building lesson that is often painful. I think Christians like myself are often told that we shouldn’t question God and should have unwavering faith in his provision. But I have my doubts at times. I wonder sometimes what I did wrong? Is God angry at me? Why hasn’t that door opened up for me yet? I feel fear and anxiety every time I look at my bank account and wonder how will I be able to pay the bills if I don’t get a job soon. But God sends his angels to remind me that I don’t need to worry about tomorrow, only today.
This faith walk is a struggle. Its getting back up every time you are attacked with fear, sadness, lack of faith and trying and trying again. It’s about persevering and knowing that you don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to have it ALL together at times. I often feel I do and do not allow people to see me at weak moments. But I don’t have to be perfect–I can’t be perfect.
What I have to know is that God is preparing me, molding me to be better each second, each moment, each day. I am growing, I am taking those steps even though I may be afraid and crying along the way. I am stepping out on faith even though I feel like a dagger is stabbing me at times. I am letting God lead me along the path that is pitch black and waiting and hoping for the light to show itself each day.
**picture from: http://faithatthebeach.com/2012/08/23/taking-the-leap/