by Dennis Ernst • December 07, 2018
As you know, my wife and I moved 600 miles north last January to live in Northern Michigan. One of our first priorities was to find a place of worship. We had many options in the area, and spent several months "church shopping." By March, we had settled on the one we felt was right. Not the one that felt right for us, but the one that felt right. Big difference.
We didn't choose the one with the friendliest people, the nicest building, or the most dynamic priest. If those were the criteria, we'd have chosen a parish other than the one we did. Instead, we chose the one that felt like it was where we were supposed to be, the one placed in our hearts to join for a purpose that would be revealed over time. Nine months later, the purpose is starting to become clear. That's another column, but it reminds me of when I went shopping for my first job at a hospital laboratory.
I was only three years out of my med tech internship and working at the Michigan Community Blood Center in Saginaw, Michigan. I was growing bored with performing only one test day in and day out. Night after night it was my job to test donor units for hepatitis B. I needed a new challenge and fast, so I set up interviews at hospitals in Champaign, Illinois, Corydon, Indiana, and three cities in Ohio. I received offers from all five facilities.
I didn't choose the one with the nicest building, the friendliest people, the highest wage or the most dynamic manager. I chose the one where I felt I was supposed to work, the one placed in my heart to be employed for a purpose that would be revealed over time. The one that felt right. In fact, when I called to accept their offer, they said they made a mistake when they quoted my salary. My starting wage would actually be fifty cents lower per hour than what they first told me. I took the job anyway. When something's placed in your heart, those things don't matter.
I worked there for 13 years, and lived in the same area for 36 years, until last January. Taking the position at the 68-bed hospital in Southern Indiana was a pivotal decision that determined the path my life would take. Because of that choice, many more paths opened up before me that would not have otherwise opened had I accepted a position elsewhere. Not all of them were walks through the park, though. Some took me deep into dark forests filled with predators and picker bushes. I'm sure you've had similar paths through life, ones you wish weren't necessary. None of us have a monopoly on tribulation.
Looking back, without the darkness I never would have found the light. Without the painful paths I would have never chosen the right ones, the ones that would ultimately lead me to where I am and the purpose, and people, I now serve. Even though I followed my heart by accepting the job in Indiana, getting lost in the woods seems to have been necessary because I certainly love where life has taken me since.
So I guess what I'm saying is that in order to be truly happy, which I am, I had to have been truly sad first. In order to be fully whole I had to be emptied out. To be fixed I had to be fully broken, and to see the light I had to know darkness. Had I chosen another hospital, would I still have gone through all of that? I don't know. Maybe. Had I known what lay ahead of me when I chose the Indiana path, would I still have chosen it? I think the answer to that question is obvious. I even have evidence.
When it came to finding a church in Northern Michigan, if we did not believe that following the path placed in our heart takes priority over what we want for yourselves, we would have chosen the nicer church with the more dynamic priest and the friendlier parishioners. While we knew the possibility that we may have chosen the more painful path, we also knew the best choice is often the most difficult one, the one with less pizzazz, and that's least self-serving. Funny how the path that is least self-serving always seems to serve you best.
So as we close out this year, I want to thank you for indulging me in a bit of philosophical, big-picture gazing. It's been another enjoyable year serving you as a resource in this capacity. Immersing myself in preanalytics is not something I ever planned, mind you, but the result of hundreds of paths chosen because they felt right. Mine is truly the niche of all niches. A more specialized specialty I could never have chosen.
Nor could I have ever found a more appreciative body of professionals who have likewise followed their hearts down a path that would, thankfully, intersect with mine. A path to one of the most noble, others-serving vocations on the face of the earth.
Robert Frost put it perfectly:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I?Çö
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, my good friends. See you next year.
Dennis J. Ernst, editor
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