“Unfortunately, the way our curriculum is set up, there are no points of re-entry into third year that would allow you the six-month time period you need to study and re-take the exam.” I had failed Step 1*. “That being said, you will have an extra six months added to your total time in medical school, which will ultimately push your graduation date back one year.” My head was spinning as I sat there in the assistant dean’s office, listening to her speak. “What would I do with that extra six months?”, I asked. “Well, it’ll be an opportunity for you to explore your interests in medicine by taking more rotations in your field of choice, and it allows you the flexibility of time. Who knows? There may be life events you need to tend to during that time.” I don’t remember much more from our conversation, but I distinctly remember those last words. “Yeah, who knows?”, I thought sarcastically.
Way back in the deep crevices of my mind was the thought “Maybe this will finally be the chance for DJ and I to get married!” I pushed that thought away, however, because after 2 years of him being rejected from job after job in Chicago, where I was living for med school, I came to accept that he would remain in New Jersey for now, as would I in Chicago. Maybe someday we would get married, but that wouldn’t be anytime soon. Meanwhile, I kept playing and re-playing things over and over in my mind. How could I have failed?!?! I was consistently passing practice exams before taking the test, I didn’t feel rushed or nervous during the actual exam, and more importantly…I HAD NEVER REALLY FAILED AT ANYTHING IN MY LIFE! This was NOT supposed to happen…or was it?
Either way, I was destined to spend the summer studying for an exam that I had just spent 3 months studying for. Each day passed by slowly, with endless hours spent at a desk, staring at page after page. Between all the drudgery, I decided since things were slow, it would be a good opportunity for me to spend some time in prayer as well. So that’s exactly what I did. In fact, I intentionally prayed every hour of each day. Primarily, I prayed that God would make a way for DJ and I to get married and that He would prepare me to be the wife that I needed to be. Meanwhile in New Jersey, DJ had a similar prayer on his heart, and specifically that God would not only provide him with a job in Chicago, but that that job would provide him with the salary he needed to take on and provide for a family. Before praying that prayer, he had created an idealized budget, taking into account the cost of rent in Chicago, utilities, food, etc, and came up with a number for the annual salary that would be needed to cover said costs. He made it a point to pray for that exact number.
As for me, the summer dragged on, I retook and passed my exam with flying colors, and I got ready to start school again in the fall. As I transitioned into my clinical years, DJ and I began making holiday plans as we usually do. That year, we had planned to spend Christmas with his family in New Jersey, but for whatever reason, we decided it would be a good idea to do premarital counseling during this time as well, since we would be together for longer than a weekend at a time. We still had no idea when we would be getting married, or when we would get engaged for that matter. However, our pastor was willing to do a one-week intensive counseling course with us, so we thought “Now’s as good a time as any!”
We enjoyed the holidays with family and friends and learned so much in counseling; and as we brought the season to a close, we rung in the New Year together with those closest to us over dinner. We shared how discouraged we were about the time it was taking for us to get married, and in what I believe to be an inspired moment, one of our friends shared the following verse with us: “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19.” Interestingly enough, that verse was brought to my attention multiple times in the preceding week. I had a feeling things were soon going to change.
Stay tuned to see what happens next week!
Want to know how DJ and I met? Read about it here.
*Step 1 is the first part of the 3-step board examination taken by medical students, typically after their second year. It is not only necessary for participation in clinical rotations and licensure , but it is also a key component of the residency application process.