I received one of the highest compliments of my career the other week. I'd been meeting with the mother of a little girl who had a recurrent brain tumor. Therapy was underway but the overall prognosis wasn't good. A week or two before that, this girl had been in remission for three years. This family is used to the hospital, clinic, chemo, the whole 9 yards. But this was my first time meeting with them. I didn't do anything different than usual. I listened, I advised, I responded. Within the first 20 minutes of talking with her, she told me she'd had two "aha!" moments. I thought it was going pretty well.
And then came the question. "Do you have any children?"
Oh, crap. It could go one of two ways. She's asking because she wants to know more about me and it won't matter that I don't have kids. Or she's asking because what the heck do I know about anything if I don't have kids? I was hoping for option #1.
I hadn't considered option #3.
This mom thought that I did have a child because I was so "compassionate, knowledgeable, and caring." She went on to say that she had liked my predecessor but she knew that I was going to be a fantastic fit for her and her family.
When I relayed this story to Tracy, she made a comment about how neat it was that I had found the perfect fit for me. It's true. This job is the perfect fit for me.
When I first moved, I was riding on the high of being offered my dream job just 4 days before I moved. God was behind this completely. I honestly can't take any credit for how I came into this job. From the moment I saw the listing on the website, I felt it would be a long-shot. Without any pediatric hospital experience, I was hoping my health care background and child and teen bereavement work would be enough. I found out later that my background in hospice is rather impressive, as in, "if she can do hospice, she can do anything!"
After I'd returned the offer letter and had a few weeks before starting to work, I emailed or spoke with various friends that had personal experience with pediatric cancer and asked them about their experience, especially concerning their social worker. I was excited to start work because it was my dream job. However, I was terrified to start work because it was my dream job. What if it turned out that I was horrible at this?
Then I made it through orientation and feeling overwhelmed by all the newness of starting this job. I got my office situated. (My office!!! I still can't believe I have my own desk, much less a window view.) I started meeting patients and families. I figured out the rhythm of hospital and clinic.
What I've realized is that no matter where I work, I'm a great social worker. However, there's something about this current work that is absolutely the right fit for me. I don't fully understand how or why God gifted me in this way. All I know is that it happened in His perfect timing. I wouldn't have been ready or able to do this right after grad school. Hospice and bereavement work, along with personal loss, turned out to be the preparation I needed. These things cannot be rushed. I pinch myself everyday that I get to work here and do the things I do. I've gotten such great feedback from my teams and from the families I work with. That means more than anything.
The last few weeks have been crazy at work. It's by no means a perfect place to work (hello, on-call!) and sometimes the patients/families are crazy themselves. But...I readily admit I'm still in the honeymoon phase. I'm part of an amazing institution. I have amazing coworkers. I have amazing patients and families that trust me during their most vulnerable moments. I have learned more about brain tumors and sickle cell disease in the last 5 months than I ever thought was possible. I have a vision for where I could take my programs. I have a professional goal to start supervising other social workers next year.
I have been given so much by working here. Every day I pray that God will give me the strength and that my work would bring Him glory. I'm five months in and can see myself doing this for some time to come. Whatever happens though, I want to remain open to what God has before me, whether it's staying here or moving on. I can't imagine how He'd top this but seeing as how He's proven His faithfulness, I guess I'll have to wait and see.