Residency Take-Aways: Part 1 of 5

During this, the last week of my residency, I will reflect each day on a take-away from my residency. Last night I was enjoying a box of Nerds I got at Walgreens where I went to get a new charger cable because the furry little ingrate who lives in my room chewed up my old one. Pets, am I right?

Anyway, as I sat there eating Nerds and watching TBS like a walking (er, sitting) cliché, I got to thinking about my residency year and how I hardly recognize myself after 12 (surprisingly short for what they encompassed) months of patient visits, end of life care, learning with my peer group about how to be a better minister and more integrated person, and breaking into a critical care unit that had a protective shell around it like a geode.

My supervisor told me the other day that when I began as an intern, she didn’t know me very well, but felt like if she snuck up behind me and yelled “boo!” that I’d fall apart. I think mostly she was right. I came into this residency with a deep love of people, a strong desire to help and a strong feeling of calling to ministry with people in their darkest dark; with a deep and longstanding insecurity rooted in elementary school and that teacher who made fun of me, a strong desire to measure up and prove I deserved to be here, and a hope that I’d discerned my calling correctly.

Residency take-away number one is confidence.

Several months ago, I presented a verbatim on a young girl I’d had a visit with. She was carefree and happy to be going home, but had asked me to come in and visit with her and with her mother. She was wearing bright pink lipstick, and I was reminded of the time I tried to pull off a bold red lip in preaching class. I’d worn it from home to the parking lot at McAfee, and then I quickly wiped it off because I wasn’t bold enough to pull it off.

A few months into my second unit of residency, I started wearing red lipstick. It was actually quite liberating. I told my little sister and she was proud of me, and red, the color of confidence, started to become part of my life more and more. I’m leaving this residency with a deeper love of people, a strong desire to help within my limits, and an unmistakable calling to ministry with people in their darkest dark- specifically, in my case, senior adults facing loneliness and isolation.

I forgive that teacher, I deserved this residency year and I think I measured up pretty well. I have nothing to prove, and as a tangible representation of my new found confidence, now I have red hair. Well, it’s more like a chocolate burgundy. I’ve always wanted to go red. I never had the confidence to pull it off. Then I did a pediatric chaplain residency, and then I got a job as an associate pastor, so now I do.

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