At the beginning of the year, we highlighted Courtney's story as she navigated the process of becoming a nurse, with the rigorous demands of nursing school on top of the numerous obstacles she faced while achieving her dream. Through her personal story, she helped us to understand failure, the pitfalls of attempting complete control, and other lies we may believe in light of God's plan for our life. Considering Pastor Marvin's message this past Sunday on the importance of our dreams and a few life-changing events in Courtney's own life, we decided to revisit her story.
Over the course of the past 8 months, Courtney has found a new job as a full-time OB nurse. She is undoubtably fulfilled through this opportunity to be with people during some of the most monumental moments in their life - whether good or bad - and love on them when they need to experience God's love most. Plus, she gets to see brand new babies every day!
In addition to having the job she loves, Courtney has found love through her relationship with Luke. They are currently engaged and are set to tie the knot in October. Much like her experience throughout nursing school, this part of her life was unplanned and has not necessarily happened the way she would have envisioned. However, she attributes the success of her relationship with Luke to the fact that it was very organic - unplanned and not forced.
While she finds herself very happy during this season considering the turmoil she encountered during nursing school, she cannot help but stress the fact that her motives throughout this season have not been to make herself happy. Instead, they have been to please God and to love others. Concerning marriage and the importance of our motives, Courtney says, "I think that going into a marriage with the heart of humility is more important than ever. I'm about to join my life with another person. I have to understand that our relationship is not about me; instead, my heart has to be set on God and on my spouse. I think that if I were to approach marriage without humility, I would be setting Luke and myself up for failure. Selfishness does that. Humility is something I have to remind myself of everyday, and it's something I learn very easily from Luke - who is one of the most selfless people I've ever met."
During this bright season of her life, Courtney says that she is constantly being reminded of just how much God loves us and has called us to love others. A favorite scripture of hers has become 1 Corinthians 13:1-8, with its beautiful display of what love is and is not.
Love does not demand its own way.
- 1 Corinthians 13:5
To revisit Courtney's story from earlier this year, continue reading below.
Story - Courtney P. - as told to Tori Penton.
Courtney always had a desire to help people, how she would channel that in her future however, remained a question. After much prayer Courtney decided to apply for nursing school. She had always enjoyed taking care of people, this choice seemed like the most natural fit for her nurturing personality. Courtney progressed through college fairly easily until it was time to apply for the nursing school of her choice. She waited with anticipation as her application was reviewed and finally the letter came; her application had been denied.
“She told Him if He wanted her to become a nurse she would do her part, but He would have to do the impossible.”
Courtney was devastated. She knew she had heard from God and she had felt His leading when praying about being a nurse. How could she have been rejected from the program that was supposed to lead to this future? She didn’t have the money to stay in college and waste another semester taking pointless classes in hopes of eventually getting into this program; her only other option was to apply to a different school. This was not what she wanted to do because she knew she would not only have to move away from her friends and family but her tuition would increase dramatically. She also didn’t have the GPA required to get into this school. She continued to pray and gave the situation up to God’s control. She told Him if He wanted her to become a nurse she would do her part, but He would have to do the impossible.
Weeks later Courtney got the news: she got into the program - the one that she technically didn’t qualify for. God had moved and it was pretty obvious what her next step would be. She describes the following years as being the most difficult of her life. Shortly after starting the nursing program, Courtney became depressed. She was always tired, always studying, and she had decided she needed to go through counseling for her issues that she had not dealt with from her past. She sought God more and more but often she was too emotionally and physically drained to feel much of anything. She felt very alone during this time period of her life, not to mention she had to move away from her family, friends, and support system.
“Courtney decided to pray; she told God that she did not want to see this woman die on her first day of clinical.”
On her very first day of her clinical experience God, set Courtney up to see a miracle. She was assigned to shadow a nurse who happened to be on the hospital’s code team. As she and nurse were working, a code was called- the nurse looked at Courtney and said “We have to go!” They ran up the stairs to another unit to a patient’s room whose heart had stopped. Courtney stood in the doorway as the code team swarmed around the woman and attempted to revive her. After a couple of minutes and no response from the woman things looked grim. Courtney remembers feeling frustrated as it looked like this woman was certainly dead. Courtney decided to pray; she told God that she did not want to see this woman die on her first day of clinical, and that He had made this woman’s body so He could fix whatever was wrong with it. That was it. As soon as the words came out of her mouth the woman’s heart started beating again. This moment is transfixed in Courtney’s memory as the day she knew with absolute certainty that this was where she was supposed to be.
Courtney threw herself into her schooling after this experience. She studied more than she ever had and prayed that God would sustain her through the exhaustion. She also began to notice the relationships God had placed around her in school. She became very close with some of her classmates as they spent countless hours together at the hospital and at school. As she grew in these friendships, she often felt impressed to pray for these people. Some of these friends began asking her for guidance in their own spiritual lives; they wanted to know her opinion on their personal matters and how she talked to God about these things. Her own faith began to blossom as she encouraged others and led them to closer to Christ.
While her friendships deepened and her faith grew, she began to struggle with school. It seemed no matter how much she studied, she could not gain any ground with her grades. She was supposed to graduate the following semester and she already had plans for after graduation. Her financial aid was about to run out so she didn’t have any more money to invest; not to mention, she was mentally and emotionally exhausted. She just didn’t understand why she was struggling so much. The old doubts began to rise again, “Why was God allowing this to happen?” and “What does He expect me to do if I can’t pay for it?” Finally after weeks of struggling the final grade came. She had failed the class and after an appeal with the Dean, the final grade stood. She would not be graduating the next semester.
“She decided to talk to God about feeling like a failure.”
Courtney fought depression for the next several weeks. She felt disappointed and embarrassed. Her best friend that had walked with her through this process was moving on and everything she fought for the previous semester felt like a total waste. She had done her part but it seemed God had not. Why was he letting this happen to her? It was at this point that Courtney realized she had left a door open in her heart for the enemy to come discourage her and attempt to disqualify her. She realized she had accepted the lies that she was a failure and that she wasn’t good enough to follow through with God’s plan for her life. She decided to talk to God about feeling like a failure. In a moment God began to speak to her about the call and purpose on her life. Courtney says she felt God saying, “This is life, and life happens; get back up and try again. This is not the end of you.”
Some weeks later when she began classes again, she realized that many of the people she had grown close with and prayed for had failed the same class, they were all repeating the same semester together. This time she sailed through the class, what she had struggled with before seemed easier than ever. Courtney began to sense God’s hand on her life again. She also continued to point her classmates to Christ through her relationships with them. Courtney began to watch some of her friends change. Instead of her being the constant encouragement to them, they began to lift her up as well. Courtney says if she would have a bad day, she would get a phone call from one of them encouraging her that God loved her. Courtney says that one of the greatest privileges has been to see her friends build a relationship with Christ through her influence. God hadn’t caused this difficult event in her life, but He did use it to bring about something good.
“When you try to control your life is the moment when things become difficult.”
Courtney recently graduated nursing school and has accepted a full-time RN position. She says that if there’s one thing she learned on her journey that she could share it would be this: “Don’t try to put God in a box with your plans. You have to trust that when He tells you something He will do it, even though it probably won’t look like what you expected it to look like. When you try to control your life is the moment when things become difficult. Your life is supposed to be about God, not about you. Ask God to keep you humble and to help you check your heart’s motivations.”
“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”
- Matthew 6:25