BY McKayla Wixom
I loved the look on people’s faces when I told them I’m going to be a veterinarian.
I was going to be Dr. Wixom— the first Dr. in my family, though my family has no lack of overachievers. I looked forward to the knowledge, title, and glory available to me that came all beautifully sealed in my acceptance letter to vet school.
I thought this was the moment I’ve been waiting for my whole life. So often we pray for moments of clarity, but when they finally come, I don’t think we’re ever truly expecting them.
Sitting at my desk on the fourth floor of the CUB where I work as an academic tutor, I began thinking about my life and how I was scheduled to begin vet school in a matter of months. Yet all I could think about in light of this fact— besides of course the massive waves of anxiety and fear that always accompany my thoughts about vet school— was it’s all meaningless. At the time, I was sitting next to Yoresalim, a shy yet wholly wonderful girl I met tutoring. She comes nearly every day for help with genetics. Our tutoring sessions always include catching up on each other’s lives, hopes, and struggles in between clarifying what transcription factors are and explaining the process of histone modifications and gene expression.
It is because of interactions like the ones I have with Yoresalim that made me realize that I love teaching. I love knowledge, and I love explaining things I know to be true. I love people— building relationships, making people feel known, heard, and wanted. I love Jesus more than anything. I love sharing Him and I long to bring Him ever more glory.
I think God wants me to be a high school biology teacher.
That’s what I wrote in my journal the following morning on February 24th. Having talked, wept, and prayed about my fears and realizations I began to gain more clarity. My increasing desire to live a life oriented for the glory of God was in direct contrast to my personal desire to be a veterinarian.
Oh how wonderful it is to save the life of an animal in hopes that it might live a few more years to bring joy to the family who owns it. Still, I failed to see the eternal weight a dog or cat has compared to the lives of humans. I want to glorify God in every aspect— especially my career. I want to note that being a veterinarian is not in any way wrong or sinful— I believe full well that God can, has, and will continue to use the profession for His glory. For me, the disconnect came from my motivation in the pursuit of becoming a veterinarian and my desire to take up my cross and follow Jesus with every ounce of who I am. I justified my desire to be a vet and tried to fit it into the plan I thought God had for me. If I asked myself honestly, why do I want to be a veterinarian? My answer would have been pride, fear, arrogance, and the need to please others.
The scarcely opened door that is the entrance to vet school is currently wide open to me, waiting for me to walk through it this August. By saying no, I am closing that door with faith that God has another even more glorious path laid out for me. I need to ask myself seriously— am I becoming a vet to please man, or to bring glory to God?
“For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)
Jesus, you are so much better than my meager plans for self glory. Jesus, you are asking me to sacrifice my dream, my career aspirations, and my expectations of myself for the sake of your Kingdom. But the odd thing is, the more I fall deeply in love with you, Lord, the less of a sacrifice this feels like. You are showing me evermore that you are, and will continue to be, so much better than anything else this world has to offer me.
Before now, though I prayed, I never heard from God where He wanted me to be or what He wanted me to do with my life and career. All I knew is that I am commanded to live my life oriented towards Him, making disciples of every nation (Matt 28:18). Even as a senior in high school I would pray, “Jesus, I don’t know if this is where you want me, but until you tell me otherwise, this is what I am going to do. Lord, I hold my hands opens, lead me where you will”.
“It is easier to serve God without a vision, easier to work for God without a call, because then you are not bothered by what God requires […] You will be more prosperous and successful, more leisure-hearted, if you never realize the call of God. But if at once you receive a commission from Jesus Christ, the memory of what God wants will always come like a goad; you will no longer be able to work for Him on the commonsense basis […] That attitude does not put Jesus Christ as the Guide as to where we should go, but our judgements as to where we are of most use. Never consider whether you are of use; but ever consider that you are not your own but His.” (Oswald Chambers; My Utmost for His Highest)
That moment has come, and it is a scary reality. God has answered my prayer, perhaps at the eleventh hour. Now with this call so clear, He is asking if I am willing to give up my expectations of myself by not going to vet school next year, and instead finish my degree in Zoology and pursue a Masters in Teaching the year after. In asking this of me, I can tangibly feel the weight of God’s bid to lay down my selfish pride and humbly go where I feel Him leading me-- a path I never saw coming. As I look ahead to the years I have left of my academic career, the anxiety and fears that went hand-in-hand with my thoughts about veterinary school have been replaced by abundant peace. Even in the midst of residual fear.
It is this peace and joy about my future that gives me such confidence that, assuredly, this is what God has called me to.
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