Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Power of Prayer

If you've been following this blog throughout this semester, then you know it's been a rough one. They tell us the hardest one we'll ever have and for that I am eternally grateful--because of course, only 3 more weeks and its over! I have had it particularly rough this semester, with the italians here, exam after exam after exam, and strawberry jam guy mucking up my semester (more on him later). A few weeks ago I finally got to the point that I believed I was literally at my wits end (and if you know me at all, you know I only use the word literally--literally not just for emphasis). The week after spring break we had our neuro midterm and anatomy "horse final" on the same week, back to back days. These were potentially, excluding finals, the biggest exams of the semester. I started studying well into spring break for both, it was just an insurmountable amount of material. The day of the neuro midterm came, Thursday, and I felt decent about the exam I had taken. It is always such a crap shoot. The whole point is to entice you to study ALL the material, of course you'll only be tested on about 1/8th of it, but in the end you learned it ALL, I guess that's the important part. The hard part about these exams is that you are required to recall, regurgitate, incorporate and draw conclusions about difficult concepts in 70 seconds. Lab exams are NEVER just ID the organ/foramen/artery/ganglia--you must actually infer something about said structure. Take for example: "The lower motor neurons passing through this foramen have cellbodies in which brain localization areas?" The orbital fissure was tagged. Not only do you need to know that A. this is the orbital fissure, you must also know what nerves exit the braincase here, which ones carry ONLY lower motor neuron fibers, and where the cellbodies for said neurons originate in the brain. If given time, I could have deduced the correct answer, but that's a LOT to piece together in 70 seconds. I ended up doing perfectly fine on the midterm (high "B" I'll take it!!) but it was the aftermath that really taught me the lesson.

I went home that night utterly spent. I had been studying 5-6 hours a day plus still going to all classes, I was only getting about 4-5 hours of sleep a night (of course I usually only get 5-6) and I was just sure that I couldn't study any more/harder/longer/with any more success. I had literally done all I could do and I knew it was still not good enough. So, I did what most people would do...I called my Mama. I somehow managed not to cry, I'm pretty sure I was just beyond tears at that point. I told here I wasn't sure I could do this, and that I was seriously questioning my career choice. ( I was, I kept thinking, I am paying for this? I could have a normal job right now, a normal WELL PAYING JOB!) I asked her if she would please call her prayer circle. I felt really odd asking this request. After all, its only school, not cancer or a car accident or a sick child, but the truth is I NEEDED HELP! I was at the end of my pool of strength and I only know of one other source. I knew I needed a few more hours of focused study (that I wasn't sure my brain could take) sleep, a willingness to do well on the test, and an attitude change.

Mom came through, she called several people, some of whom I don't even know and remarkably they gladly began praying for me--I cannot begin to express what a humbling experience that is. To have people you haven't seen in ages or perhaps have never met to spend their time doing the most personal thing one person can do for another is beyond my scope of humanity. Those people began to call others I don't even know and before I knew it Mom called back and assured me that "the wheels of prayer were rolling for me."

I got home that night with a "magically" (holy magic) induced focus, I was able to successfully study and actually retain the information. But, the most tangible effect of the prayers being said for me didn't "take effect" until the next day. I woke up (from a very restful sleep) with a changed heart, I knew that the test would be difficult and long but that I was mentally prepared for the battle. I knew that I had done EVERYTHING in my power to prepare and even illicited some divine powers as well. I did well on the exam, but the grade is not the point. I don't believe that God gives you the answers to exams, and he didn't. What He did do, was restore my focus, allow me to really rest, and change my attitude to see that I really could accomplish this. I was calm during the exam, even when I knew I didn't know the answers, I was focused and able to easily recall the information that I did know. These exams are 4+ hours long so focus and stamina are CRITICAL in exam strategy. He gave me that. The prayers have changed my entire semester (Mom tells me they are continuing to pray). I am no longer on the verge of a nervous breakdown, I can sleep again, and I find time to study and time to relax a little easier now. It was as if I was trying to find my way through a dark tunnel with only pieces of a map. Now, though I may still only have pieces of the map, I have a light that is helping to guide me, not get me there on a fast track--but light my path and make it so much easier.

I didn't get the best Anatomy grade I have ever gotten. But, not the worst either. I did get a renewed sense of goal, and a very well learned lesson. Vet school is a test of more than just knowledge. It will test your marriage, your friendships, your goals, and at times even your self worth. I count myself among the lucky, I have a faith that helps me to see beyond the worldly and put things in a higher perspective. I learned my lesson that week, that it is difficult but worth it to humble yourself enough to ask for prayers, to ask for help from the only real source of it. I also learned that humbling and asking probably should have been the FIRST thing I did.

Psalms 119:105 "Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."

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