Year One Medical School Update |The Welburns
As I sit here writing this, I can hear the clacking of Kyle's keyboard at the kitchen table and the soft snores coming from Happy on the couch. Every now and then Kyle gets up to refill his water bottle or Happy growls quietly as he dreams about chasing a rabbit (or more likely a duck since he doesn't see many rabbits here). These are the sounds I've grown accustomed to hearing each afternoon and evening for the last ten months. One whole year of medical school. This week is Kyle's last week; can you believe it?! I can't. He only has one more year of academic study and then he'll start rotations at different hospitals here in San Antonio for his third and fourth years. Then he'll graduate and we'll apply to over a hundred residency programs, pray that he gets accepted to one, and move across the country and start a whole new adventure! Only this time instead of putting in 80 hours a week, he'll be putting in closer to 100. But we're just taking this journey one step at a time. Celebrating each little victory as they come. And now we're almost officially done with this current step: the completion of his first full year of med school! EEKKK! I've been holding back happy tears for a few days now, friends.
The ending of this first year has brought about a lot of reflection on my part; what we've experienced, what I've learned personally, how our relationship has changed. All that fun stuff. And let me tell you guys, we are not the same people who left BYU a little over a year ago.
When I look back on those first few months we lived here, they were hard. Like really hard. Not an “oh this is difficult but we’ll suck it up and just push through it" hard, it was more of a “curl up in a ball and try and forget this is all happening” hard. I didn’t think we were gonna make it. I didn’t think I would make it. I genuinely thought that med school would break me. Would break us. We've all heard the saying "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger". Well I wasn't even sure we were going to get through the "doesn't kill you" part in order to get to the "makes you stronger" part.
I'm not saying that we didn't have wonderful aspects of our new life here. We've made some great friends, served people in ways we never would have been able to in Utah, and even got a dog! We've definitely had some good, even great, days. But it was (and still is) so. freaking. hard. There were so many days I would just stare up at the sky and be like " Okay Heavenly Father, I get it! I've learned my lesson! I've grown closer to You, I've become a more patient, independent person, and I've learned a lot. You can stop with the hard stuff already!" I kept waiting for that magical day where I'd wake up and Heavenly Father would agree with my (somewhat precocious) assertion and things would get better. But I forgot, and what I think a lot of us forget, is that happy endings are a work in progress.
It’s like all of those super hero movies, right? Or pretty much any romantic comedy movie ever. The whole movie is centered around this one big issue that keeps building and building; the main character keeps failing at every attempt to fix the problem and things keep getting more foreboding and desperate as they approach the climax of the movie. And just as they’re at their lowest low, just as things can’t get any worse, something amazing happens and fixes the problem! The dashing man forgives her for her mistake, the villain is defeated by the good guys. We won, woohoo! And then it cuts to like two months (or even two years) later and shows how everything is resolved and all is right with the world again. We've all seen that movie, right? The big momentous scene when you realize everything is going to be okay after a ton of hardship? And then we see the scene showing how pretty much everyone is happy a few months later? Right, it's a pretty common ending! But very rarely do we get to see the very next day after the big solution occurs. We don’t see the months it takes to rebuild the city damaged when the villain attacked. We don’t see the insecurities and the fights and the healing process of a relationship starting back up again. We don’t see that the main character’s happy ending is a work in progress, not an immediate transformation.
It’s the same in our lives. When we’re going through something difficult, when we’re falling further and further down that metaphorical cliff, we keep hoping in the back of our mid for that magical, instantaneous fix that we see all the time in the movies. When we hit rock bottom, we start looking for the wave of the magic wand that we just KNOW is gonna come because we’ve seen it happen countless times.
In our minds I think we understand that no one is going to come and fix our problems for us. We know that. And I think we recognize that our turning point where we start to overcome the challenge and come up from rock bottom won’t be as huge and momentous as the movies portray it to be. But I do think that we forget about that period between the climax of the movie and the resolution at the very end. Those 2 years in between the final battle and the rebuilt city. We forget about how when you’re at rock bottom, you still have to climb all the way back up the cliff you fell down in the first place. And that's okay! That's normal! That's healthy! If you were going through something really hard like a divorce or the loss of a loved one, and one day you just woke up perfectly fine with no negative feelings or painful moments, I would be worried about you.
Now at this point you might be thinking, "but Sara, what about Christ? He can do anything and heal all wounds!" Yes!! He can! I agree one hundred percent! But just because He can snap His fingers and take away my trial and the heartache and pain that comes with it, doesn't mean He will. Yes, He will strengthen me to make bearing my trial easier. Yes, He will stand with me throughout the whole wretched experience. But that's exactly the point: it's an experience, and usually a long one at that. One that you can't expect to be over with a snap of your fingers or the wave of a magic wand. One that, from the very beginning, you can't do alone and will take time and effort to come out of.
That’s where I’m at right now with our med school adventure: the beginning. I am just BARELY reached my turning point where I'm starting to climb back up from rock bottom. I feel like I’ve come to the moment where I realize I have a super long climb ahead of me but that's normal and it's okay and I'm not doing it alone. I can be okay now. But that moment wasn't big, it wasn't climactic, and it certainly wasn't instantaneous. It took me a long time to come to that realization, and it’s going to take a while for me to truly be okay. I have to climb back up the cliff one day at a time, sometimes very slowly, and sometimes falling backwards a bit. But I know that eventually I’ll come to my resolution scene. The point in my life where, if this was a movie, they would say “2 years later” and show where everything was happy and good and I had fully overcome the struggle of starting our medical school journey. Of course I’d be falling down other cliffs and dealing with other struggles at that point, but that’s another story for another movie :)
We need to stop expecting that magic moment where everything suddenly becomes okay. We need to stop expecting ourselves to have an instantaneous turn around when we're going through something difficult. We need to give ourselves the grace and the time to climb back up the cliff we fell off of. And the only way to do that is with the help of our Savior. Breathe. Pray. Remember that it's totally normal and okay to still be at the bottom of the cliff climbing up slower than a snail. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me".