I have been so blessed by watching the messages on YouTube from the Women’s Ordination Symposium. After watching Julie Mesa’s presentation, I wanted to share a testimony with you regarding my experience in the career lane and as a mother.
I entered Medical School at the age of 35 because it seemed I was not going to ever have a family. I found that doing medical missionary work was my way of sharing my maternal nurturing as well as giving the gospel message. However, I married during school and had my first and only child. It was all I could do to finish school while I had a child at home (or at a sitter’s). I noticed that the majority of staff in the hospital were women, with children at home. I would ask myself, “Who’s taking care of our children?” When I talked to other women about my burden to be home and be 100% mom, they would all say, “It’s quality that counts. With a good paycheck, I can give my children more than if I was home.” I knew that was a lie. It is impossible to work even 40 hours a week and still have time to take care of a home and children. But we were putting in close to 70-80 hours a week.
When I was in residency, my marriage broke up. My daughter was only 3, and I was devastated. The court split visitation to half a week per parent. It took 2 minutes for me to realize that I would lose my daughter forever unless I quit residency. When I told my resident director (an SDA woman physician with 2 children) that I was going to leave medicine, she had me go to counseling so that I wouldn’t make a decision I would regret later. I went to many counselors, men, women, christian and non-christian. All were professionals, of course. Everyone of them said the same thing after I presented my reasoning to leave residency and a career as a doctor. The response was, with his or her head down, “I agree with you 100%, but I could never make that decision. I would never give up my career for my child(ren).”
I had gone far enough to be licensed as an MD, but without board certification you can only work in 3rd world conditions, like on the reservation or in oppressed situations. It didn’t matter to me if I wasn’t a doctor, I would not give up my privilege and responsibility as a mother. The most important thing was that I had 100% of my time with my 3 year old daughter. I knew that when she was 18 and left my care, a billion dollars wouldn’t buy back the time I needed to train my daughter for God in her formative years.
I left residency, and gave all I could to direct my child to trust God with her life. Four years after the separation began, Samantha was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of 7. My resident director came to see us in the hospital and said, “Now you know why you had to leave residency.” Yes, I had limited time to prepared my daughter for eternity. And God blessed my time. Before she passed away, she was baptized by Shawn Boonstra and she declared before she died she wanted the world to know that Jesus was her Savior.
I want to give a resounding AMEN to Sister Mesa’s talk on the incredible work God has given to women. Thank you for all the inspiring and informative messages given at this symposium. I have been blessed and learned so much.
And as a side note, I belonged to a small church that had 3 women pastors. Our conference president wanted to go down in Adventist history as one who put women in as pastors. We did not thrive, but felt the consequences of not having the strengths that men bring as leaders of the flock.