A dedicated nurse who hates her job has to choose between that job and Frank the lover of her life who loves her job.
Estimated reading time: 20 mins
The terrified mother exhaled as the status epilepticus attack subsided and her boy sank into a calm sleep.
Gola kept her syringe on the medication tray and watched the child, who was still held down by his father. A minute later, she took the tray from the bedside cupboard and turned to leave.
The child's mother grabbed her arm. "Thank you, nurse."
"Madam, it's my job. Rather, thank God. He's the sustainer of all life."
"Thank you, all the same. I’ve watched some of your colleagues. You love your job."
The child's father nodded.
Without another word, the tall and slender nurse took her pensive eyes off their faces and went to the nurses' station, where she documented the incident.
The clock on the wall opposite the table read past 2 a.m. She walked back into the ward, giving every sick child a vigilant look. Everywhere was calm.
As she returned to the nurses’ station, laughter came from the dressing room at the left.
Gola frowned. She’d objected to being paired with the negligent nurse for the night shift. Instead of two nurses to share the work, one took up most of the responsibility. And the other stayed in the dressing room with a Smartphone in hand.
Sighing, she sat down leaned her head against the wall. It was time to give a little more attention to the pondering of her heart. The contemplation had recently become more difficult to ignore.
She sighed again. I wish I could make a firm decision and follow through.
The mother who had just thanked her for saving the child's life constituted one of those reasons the decision about the job was difficult.
How can I tell others I hate to be a nurse when praise for my dedication abounds?
The four years of her working experience had produced two Nurse-of-the-year Awards and two runner-up positions.
How can I tell others that I wish to change my career and do something else?
Another groan. I hope you understand, Papa.
The day Gola graduated from the university, Papa had exhibited rare happiness. He hosted a lavish party and gifted her with three hundred thousand francs to begin the new phase of life stress-free.
"I'm so proud of my first daughter," Papa told the over one hundred guests. "She's chosen a noble profession."
Seated to his right, with her mother beside her, Gola looked down at the large bouquet in her hand. The flowers mocked her, sending off congratulations for quiet acquiescence to wishes she’d never have cherished on her own.
Papa continued, "And second, she's ripe for the job market. Y'all know that a degree in Nursing is not as useless as some funny pursuits our young people are passionate about.
"At just twenty, my daughter will get a good-paying job. Soon, she'll get married, and settle down." He laughed hilariously. "That is life. Simple. She can pursue a master's degree if she so wishes, but she's got security with this first degree."
A month after graduation, Gola got a job with the St. Serita's Hospital in Bamenda, a health facility that prided itself on quality health care delivery and better remuneration of its staff.
One afternoon, she felt the eyes of one caregiver, a certain clean-shaven man, stapled on her each time she administered drugs to his sick friend.
Frank praised her meticulous nursing skills, but Gola detected romantic affection beneath the eulogies. When he later asked for her contact, she didn't hesitate.
He called daily and came to visit. Before long, he had her parents' consent to court her.
"God brought me to St. Serita's to meet you,” he told her often. "I'd always desired a nurse for a wife. A noble profession."
His big grin quantified his admiration for her profession.
"Is that the only reason you fell in love with me?" Gola said, jokingly but serious.
"No, Sweet Pea. But the fact that you're a nurse was the starting point."
"Therefore, um…" Gola fidgeted with the hem of her dress. "If I stop being a nurse…that will also be a starting point for the end of the relationship, right?"
Frank smiled. "Nope. But why would you not want to be a nurse? Once a nurse, always a nurse." He smiled again, broadly.
"I wish to do something else." It'd been a long Gola had that blue face.
"Something else?" Frank stared at her. "Don't you like your job? Maybe, you don't like working at St. Serita's?"
The numerous questions saved Gola the opportunity to offer any reply. But fear was the major hindrance. She loved Frank.
Not much of a dater, she’d never fathomed dating more than one guy before settling down. She'd always believed in opening up her heart to only one Mr. Right. According to that heart, Frank was that him.
Another episode of laughter from the dressing room interrupted Gola's recollections.
She got up to go inside. Two steps forward, and she hesitated and returned to her seat, heaving a sigh loud enough to be heard meters away into the ward.
How can I desire this? How do I forego nursing, which they say is ministry, a noble profession, for something so distant and dissimilar?
Footsteps approached. Gola straightened up on the seat. A few seconds later, a woman stood at the door to the nurses’ station.
"My daughter's water is finished."
Gola grabbed a bag of intravenous infusion from the shelf and followed the woman.
Several minutes later, she returned to the station. Once again, laughter came from the dressing room.
"Enough is enough." Gola pushed the door open.
"Gee!" shouted a plumb and dark-skinned young woman. She put down her phone on the table. "Is this how the time had flown? I'm so sorry, Gola. I didn't just take note. Fonyuy is a great talker, we –"
“Vera, you know the right thing to do. Do it.”
"What’s there to be done?" Vera asked, plugging the charger of her phone into a socket.
"Prepare for the 4 a.m. medications." Gola went out.
Vera rushed after her. "But, Gola, is that something you can't do? Just how many children have medications for 4 a.m.?"
Gola turned and flashed at the colleague.
Widening her eyes and mouth, Vera raised her hands in mid-air. "Whoa. It’s okay, police officer. But please, let me just finish off this important message I was sending. Pleeeease." She dashed back into the dressing room. "I'll buy you something tomorrow."
Gola stared at the door. "I hope you won't find fault with me again when I inform the Matron tomorrow about your conduct. For God's sake, you've been on your phone for more than four hours. A child could have died, and you wouldn't know."
Vera came out, baring her teeth and beating her hands in the air. "Grrrrrr. Must you go to that length? Can't you help a sister out? I'm tryna get me a husband, and all you do is disturb."
"Vera, when you don't do your job, you place a burden on others. It shouldn't get you annoyed when they complain. Besides, you’re paid for the job."
"That peanut money, is that what you call a pay?" Vera squeaked and headed for the shelves on the wall.
"Peanut money?” Gola scoffed. “Anyway, if you’re unhappy with the remuneration here, go find a better place, and stop receiving payment for work not done."
"It's enough. What the heck – "
"What?" Gola asked, coming closer. One of Vera's long fake fingernails had torn a glove.
"If you kept your nails at the recommended length for nurses, you wouldn't have had that happen."
"To hell with all that crap." Vera pulled the glove off. "Think I should lose my taste of beauty just because I took some oath?" Then she muttered furiously.
"You can do your nails during your annual leave. Artificial and polished nails are not -"
"Not compatible with Nursing. Nonsense. They can't stop me from living my life."
Vera took out another glove from the box and wore it with care.
Gola returned to her seat. Shaking her head, almost disbelievingly, she watched her colleague fumbling with a vial and a syringe. The glass fell to the floor, spilling some of its contents.
"Sh_____." As soon as the exclamation left her lips, Vera took another vial from a box and pushed the tray on the table further against the wall.
"Be patient," Gola said, almost clenching her teeth. A nasty word would have leaked out if she hadn't.
"My hatred for the night shift knows no bounds," Vera said. "In fact, I hate this job. If not because of the hard economic situation, I'd be outta here in a heartbeat."
Vera lifted up her hand, examined it, and sighed so loudly that Gola came closer again. "What's it?"
Another long sharp nail had come out through a glove. Gola shoved the colleague aside and took over the tray.
"Good girl." Vera pulled off the gloves from her hands and hurried into the dressing room.
Gola stopped and stared down on the contents on the tray. Could she one day realize, like Vera, that her job took away her true life and offered nothing in exchange except a guaranteed monthly paycheck?
In some ways, she envied Vera's laughter that once again came from the dressing room. She'd have gladly embraced the opportunity to numb her conscience and shirk from duty, too, but how could a Christian with an awakened conscience do such, and receive payment for work not done?
“Sweet Pea, how much do you think a modest wedding would cost?”
Gola left the kitchen to the living room, not to answer Frank’s question, but to look at his face. She’d not expected that he would talk about wedding without first bending the knee before her with an engagement ring in his hand.
Yet, the topic of the wedding shook her heart. “Thinking of wedding already?”
“Yeah. Shouldn’t we?”
She held his gaze. How could she bring herself to speak her mind without once again incurring his objection?
“Shouldn’t we?” Frank repeated the question.
Frank lowered the volume of the television. “What’s the matter?”
Gola would have hesitated, but luck failed her, and a force pushed words out through her lips. “Frank, I hate my job.”
"I've heard that a thousand times. But you still haven't answered the question, why? You’re good at your job.”
“I’m good at it for the sake of Christ. Honestly, I –”
“That’s the essence of every job for a Christian. Christ is and must be the reason for job satisfaction. There’s no other worthier reason.”
Gola’s fingers ran across the top of the large, woolly seat. She’d half-expected the response. Frank increased the TV’s volume. She returned to the kitchen.
A few minutes later, he joined her but stood at the door. “Sweet Pea, God wouldn’t have led you to this job if it wasn’t His plan. He would have hindered it and caused you to go in the right direction.”
“Then why can’t I find joy there?” Gola’s whining voice provoked a giggle from Frank. Pangs of resentment darted across her heart.
“I’m sorry for not empathizing with you,” Frank said. "I love my job at the college. But frankly, nursing fits you. You’re in the right place. Just where I needed to find you."
The glee in his face had hardly disappeared when he added, “My mom was a nurse, and daddy was always proud of her. I’m proud of you, too, baby. I always see my mom in you. Just wish she were still alive to see my beautiful wife.”
Gola gave attention to the contents of the pot, her stony face appearing as if it would drop into the container. Frank returned to his seat.
After serving the table, Gola couldn’t lift her spoon to her mouth. Frank munched with gusto.
“What is it?” Frank had forgotten about her complaint twenty minutes ago.
“This is the beginning of my fifth year as a nurse. I’m thinking that –“
“What exactly is the reason for your dislike?”
Gola’s eye counted the grains of rice on her plate. There was no reason for her hatred for Nursing. Something just didn’t feel right. But what?
“I became a nurse to satisfy my dad. And now it appears I’ll do it for my husband. I can’t live that way for the rest of my life.
"I can’t live every day hating to go to work, happy to return, but feeling obligated to it cos of other people. They keep telling me, it's a noble profession, but I believe any profession –”
“Calm down, okay? We aren’t quarreling.”
“You’re getting me confused here," Frank said. "I believe you’re the right one for me. I’ve always wanted a nurse. God grants the desires of our hearts.”
The look of confusion on his face was believable. Gola's heart wanted to soften, but that could mean an abortion of her chance for a final decision.
“But, Frank, what about –”
“Sweet Pea, you know the solution to this? Let’s seek a marriage counselor. To help us iron things out.”
Elbowing her plate away, Gola said, “Maybe, I should just quit the job and stay at home after our marriage.”
“I’d prefer to sit at home and do nothing than go to that job.”
“No. I can’t marry a woman who's not working. I don’t encourage parasitic relationships.”
Gola swallowed the hurt feeling in her throat.
Two months later, Gola knocked on the door to her pastor's office. She would not deny that her feet wished to turn back and run away.
A loud voice in her head said to give up the visit, but alas, Pastor Moteka had already answered from inside.
The pain that moved up and down her gut summoned the waters in the eyes. Gola fidgeted with her sweater's zip.
The pastor waited in silence.
"Pastor," Gola said, with a voice as teary as her eyes, "I want to quit my job, but no one understands. My parents don't understand, my friends, my…"
The pastor's plain theological face, confirming Gola's fears, paused her.
He thinks I'm crazy. Will he tell me to be grateful to God for not having had the opportunity to experience the sting of joblessness in an economy where unemployment and underemployment are more normal than the contrary?
That was a piece of dreaded advice. Not again.
Contentment, someone had advised, was what she needed, alongside a consideration of the well-known quote, 'the end justifies the means', which in Gola's case translated, if the job helps meet your life's needs, there's no need for a change.
To get food, raiment, and shelter, isn't that the reason we work, after all? Should the type of job, therefore, matter if it meets the objective of working?
The sting from the insinuation increased the intensity of the pain in her throat. The advice declared, without mincing words, that financial advancement remained the only rational reason for a change of job.
Pastor Moteka touched her hand, jolting Gola out of her self-talk. Only then did she realize that she'd gone mute. "I'm sorry, pastor. I'm confused."
"Gola, you have my ear."
The assurance encouraged her but didn't dispel her fears. "Um...pastor...it was my father who advised me to choose Nursing.
"After four years in school and four years working, I wish to do something else. But my no one understands." She wiped away a tear.
A moment of silence. Pastor Moteka tapped his fingers against each other while staring at the young woman.
Gola moaned. "Even if I were to go ahead without my parents' approval, what about Frank?"
She lifted her teary eyes to the pastor's face. "Pastor, I know you think I'm in ministry by being a nurse. I know you think I should be satisfied."
Pastor Moteka laughed and turned his bushy head sideways. His voice became unusually soft. "Yes, I think you're in ministry. But I don't think it's because you're a nurse.
“Every Christian is in ministry wherever they work and whatever their job. I am no more in ministry than you are, than anyone else in this church."
That was enough to activate a gush of warm blood. Gola smiled, wiping away the tears. She paid more attention.
"Lidwina, my wife, besides being a singer, is also a saleswoman for the Twin Brothers. She gets opportunities there to express the love of Jesus. I consider her to be in ministry there."
Gola scratched her head; disturbing thoughts had returned. "Pastor, if every job is a ministry opportunity, does it...is it...um...should one change jobs because they don't find satisfaction in one?"
"Why not? Sometimes our wisdom is not the same as God's. Let me tell you a story our Bible School rector narrated to us on our first day of school. It's the story of a past student of the Bible School."
Brother Edward desired to serve God right from the moment he became a Christian. He enrolled into the Bible School where he spent four years. Upon graduation, a flourishing congregation received him.
"One day," the rector said, "I got a call from him. He told me he was quitting pastoring to return to the business world.
"My first reaction was to believe that the challenges of ministry were more than he could bear. But he replied that he’d found out God never called him to pastor a church. It had been his interpretation of serving God.”
Not a few people saw Brother Edwards's decision wrongly. How could a Christian abandon ministry for marketing?
Some said he’d thought to find milk and honey in ministry, but finding only loathsome manna, he was returning to Egypt for the love of fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic.
Brother Edward, convinced that God had opened his eyes to his ignorance, quit the ministry to focus on rebuilding his abandoned business.
"Do you know what Brother Edward is doing right now?" The rector asked the assembled student body. Their eyes ate him up while their ears yearned to discover what the said brother was up to.
"He's the biggest sponsor of the evangelistic outreaches of this denomination. And also, he established a school fund that sponsors at least 5 students of this school every year. Some of you will benefit from that largesse."
In his last year of Bible School, Pastor Moteka had benefited from Brother Edward's fund.
"Gola," Pastor Moteka said, "Brother Edward is encountering people in the business world he never would have encountered otherwise. Being a businessman has not stopped him from preaching the gospel.
“Some of the people he impacts are becoming ministers, others are finding God's purposes for their lives; others are finding simple joy and peace in life, some are having their marriages improved or restored.
“And you know what, all of that is worth the decision he took."
Gola’s face brightened. "Thank you, pastor. But, as I told you, I don't want to lose Frank."
"Have you discussed this with your marriage counselor?"
“Yes, but he supports Frank.”
Gola squeezed her eyes. An attempt to rearrange mental pictures from an ancient event. A minute almost elapsed before she said, “He said something like, I should submit to my husband."
Pastor Moteka heaved. After apparent reflection, he said, "I advise you to go pray and -"
“Pastor, I’ve been praying. Right now, I’m observing a fast.”
“Continue praying until you understand what the will of the Lord is.”
"Even if it means the end of my relationship with Frank?"
As Gola descended the lonely path behind the church
building, her heart grumbled. Her eyes blinked back tears. The pastor had failed to give her a definite direction.
Go and continue praying? What was going to happen next?
Lord, don't push Frank out of my life.
At her place, she went straight to bed. Imaginations play an incontestable role in decision making. We can anticipate the consequences of our actions and evaluate our readiness to face them.
Gola visualized herself quitting the disliked job. She saw Frank walk away. Her parents turned their backs on her. Friends called her crazy. And, eventually, she failed in her preferred venture.
Her heart panicked. The readiness for such an adventure seemed absent.
Flipping the other side of her imagination, she saw a scarier picture – her thirty-five-year-old self in her present job, totally dispirited.
She sobbed. "Lord, this was never my choice. It was my parents' counsel.
"I want to give this new venture a try. If I fail, I’ll learn my lessons. Plus, I can always retrace my steps. I'd still be a qualified nurse.
In her spirit’s eye, God seemed to nod approval to that arrangement. She sat up straight on the bed, smiling. A heavy load had just left her heart. Fear of criticism no longer terrified her.
“Lord, show me how to go about this. Give me an implementation guide.”
Two hours later, with a face radiating an indefinable emotion, Gola walked to a grocery and treated herself to some ice cream and biscuits.
Talking to her parents seemed the most logical next step. Their anticipated rejection could be handled easier than Frank’s.
Papa hit his fists on the side of his armchair. “No, Gola, you’re not taking such a decision. You don’t have my permission.”
Mama’s silence was acquiescence to Papa’s stance. Gola felt the muscles in her body constricting, readying for a fight.
She subdued the reaction. “Papa, this is not the first time I’ve complained about my profession to you. Do you think I’ll keep complaining if this were not a serious issue? I can’t just ignore how dissatisfied I feel. I can’t –”
“Don’t waste your time trying to convince me.” With that declaration, Papa turned to the TV.
Mama came over to Gola. Mothers are ever so compassionate.
“My dear, everything will be okay. After your wedding, with more responsibilities on your hand, you’ll have no time to think of unfulfilled dreams.
"You might even find that your present discontent is the void created by singleness.”
Gola stooped her shoulders and cupped her face in her palms. Mama caressed her back and went to the bedroom.
Gola waited, hoping that by some stroke of miracle, Papa would turn his attention to her and say, “Daughter, you have my blessing.”
The wait proved fruitless. She joined her mother in the bedroom. “Mama, talk to Papa. For God’s sake, I’ve satisfied his desire. For more than half of my life. Can’t I –“
"Shhhhh." Mama spoke in a low voice. “You know your father. If I support you, it’ll raise a fire in this house I won’t be able to quench.”
Gola shook her head. “Mama, it’s out of respect I’m seeking your blessing. I’m an adult. But I love you. Why do you then hate me?”
Her parents loved her. But she longed for a particular reaction with her choice of words.
Mama gasped, bringing a cupped palm over her mouth. “How can you say that? Of course, we love you.”
“No, Mama. Parents who love their children guide them. You and Papa never asked us what we wanted to be in life. You just handpicked our careers for us. Is that love?”
Mama took Gola’s hand and looked into her face.
The daughter saw hurt in them, and bowed her head.
“Mama, I’m sorry, but that’s the truth. Especially, Papa, he exasperates us his children. That’s not right.”
Mama’ brought her face closer. “But you know your father has your best interest. Do you want him to allow you to chase dreams that might never put food on your table?”
“Papa is not the God who wired me a certain way from the womb. Why not allow me to fail and prove him right?”
Mama soughed, letting go of Gola’s hand. Supporting her chin on her clasps hands, the fifty-something-year-old took on a faraway look. Poor mothers. Many of them experience dilemmas, choosing between their husbands and children.
Gola broke her knuckles.
“What about Frank?” Mama asked after a long silence. “What has he said?”
“I’ll talk to him again tomorrow.”
After another terrifying silence, Mama asked, “Gola, are you sure you’re not making a mistake?”
“Mama, let me give it a try. I believe this is the right thing to do. But if it later turns out wrong, I’ll retrace my steps.”
“Okay. I’ll talk to your father when he’s calm. But I'm making no promises that he'll change his mind.”
“Sorry, Gola, I won’t marry you. You’re stubborn, disobedient, and disrespectful.”
Bang. Gola shook her head, hoping to throw off the rushing, squealing thoughts. She tried to hold her lips in place, but the miserable girls insisted on quivering.
“Frank…I di-dn’t expect this…re-ac-tion from you.”
Frank paced the living room of his apartment, his face fuming unutterable words. His judgment had been challenged and threatened by an audacious woman whom he’d always thought to be humble.
He stood in front of her. “See, I can only give you two options. It’s either me or your dreams.”
“Frank, I choose you both.” Tears ran down her cheeks. “I promise you, there can be harmony without –“
“Choose one. Just one.” He pocketed his hands in his trousers and resumed the room patrol.
Pastor Moteka’s words came to Gola’s mind. If he lets you go because you don’t want your job anymore, then he never loved you.
He’s not spiritually and emotionally ready for marriage. Real men look for godly qualities, not social or financial status. Real men encourage their wives to be all God wants them to be.
Gola planted her eyes on Frank's back. When he turned around, she stared down at her fingernails. The once super-abundant affection drained off the walls of her heart. Only scarcely did she prevent hate from replacing it.
When at home alone, Gola wetted her pillow with the gushing optic waters. Amidst company, she only spoke when necessary. Her face knew no smile again, only a dull expression, sometimes beautified by puffy, red eyes and nose.
How could Frank, the man of her dreams, be that callous? He’d thought of her a cash cow? His I-love-you’s had been hypocritical? Curse you, naive heart, for believing him.
Another night shift with Vera amplified the pain. The unscrupulous nurse spent endless hours in the dressing room with her phone in hand.
“Vera, if nursing isn’t your thing, why can’t you try a change? Maybe fashion, beauty, aesthetics?”
“It’s about the money, baby. It's peanut money but it's guaranteed. I can't risk starting a business. Taxes will kill it even before it starts.”
Unconsciously, Gola buried her head in her palms.
Then a month passed, and another, and another. Gola’s heart healed as she prepared for the imminent change. A year later, she walked into the Administrative Secretary’s office and handed in her resignation letter.
A wind of change hugged her face when she opened the door and came out.
FOUR YEARS LATER
Gola smiled into space, her eyes still stayed on a woman disappearing out of sight four blocks away. One of nine young and middle-aged women.
Gola’s Glow™, a thriving residential interior design business with two full-time employees besides Miss Proprietor, had recently signed an unexpected contract with a women’s rehab center.
So she'd not been wrong a year back when the awareness began to take hold of her heart about a special life focus – encouraging young women to pursue purpose?
She’d thought it was a mere desire stemming from her three-year-old experience, but the persistent desire had birthed a growing YouTube Channel and a blog, whose positive reception further supplied building blocks for the passion to flourish. Now, this contract cemented that belief.
The road had been long. And not a few times torturous. Her once atrophied muscles, a result of lack of parental guidance earlier on, had now developed to enormous sizes through a process of rigorous work year after year.
Many a night, she’d broken down and sobbed away her lungs. A fearful mother, a skeptical father, and gossipy friends. She'd endured the pain in silence.
But then something happened – a heightened awareness of God’s presence she’d never known. Having been flung into a wilderness of few to no genuine companions, she found in him a refuge once despised. It kept her afloat when nothing else would.
Put a gun to her head, and she would blurt out that the emotional and spiritual maturity was worth the pain.
She could write a book on the various encounters she’d had with homeowners and event planners, opportunities to share her faith without the fear of being busted by a head nurse or matron.
And many of these home encounters were so unique and spectacular that she had, time and again, experienced the joy of being at the right place at the right time.
One other advantage she wouldn’t fail to celebrate included a tiny dream come true – a work-from-home wife and mother, and a work schedule she could control.
But just where was her Mr. Right to complete that picture?
Possessed by thoughts, Gola didn't notice the car that pulled up in front of her door. A man's approaching figure brought her back to reality.
Frank? Jesus. I can’t have him back.
His slow footsteps up the porch halted at the last step. He stood before Gola, head bowed.
She crossed her hands over her bosom, leaned her head against a pillar, and looked away.
Frank cleared his throat but nothing came forth through his lips until about a minute later.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know much back then. I didn’t have the right priorities back then. As a Christian and as a future husband and father.”
He fumbled with a bunch of keys in hand. Gola said nothing.
“I’ve been through two unsuccessful relationships since we separated. I’ve been…”
Gola heaved, releasing her crossed arms.
If you were Gola, would you have Frank back?
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