No Regrets

no regrets

A number of young women have reached out to me to inquire about a career in medicine as it may coincide or conflict with responsibilities at home. While I’m delighted to mentor on an individual basis, I also feel compelled to address the topic publicly.

My intent in writing From Medical Doctor to Stay-at-Home Mom was never to dissuade women from pursuing careers in medicine. Please, let me be perfectly clear on that.

Rather, I hoped to illustrate that whatever our vocation, we must seek it for God’s glory, not for our own. (Col 3:17, Col 3:23-24, Matt 5:16) I wrote the article from the perspective of a woman who’d so steeped herself in the success-obsessed culture of the day, that I built my identity upon my career, rather than upon my forgiveness in Christ. I idolized my work. Although my job as a trauma surgeon required sacrifice and service to humanity, I wed myself to it not out of love for Him, but to buttress my pride.  Then, the Lord gave me a child for whom homeschooling was the best educational option, planted a love for teaching my own kids in my heart, and convicted me with the Word such that it was impossible to fulfill my Christian duty to my kids and still continue clinical practice.

Obviously not every woman in medicine will fall into the same sin that I did. On the other hand, women who decide to stay home full-time, from the start, can also idolize their choices. The key is, do we pursue our vocation for the Lord, or for our own edification?

Although I’m now walking a different path, I have no regrets about my medical career, and in fact am deeply grateful for it. The Lord used my work to bring me to Himself (please see my testimony). The experience shaped me in ways pivotal to my faith journey, and continues to influence me now. Through medicine, my days intersected with those of thousands of people whom otherwise I would never have known. Each one of those people — not only patients, but nurses, students, mentors, and colleagues — left a fingerprint upon me. Each one sculpted me, and influenced me in ways dramatic and subtle, awkward and tender. I dare to hope that the Lord used me in those encounters to effect good in others’ lives.

Through medicine, the Lord taught me how to teach, and how to learn. He taught me the value of immersion, of inspiration, of study devoted to greater purpose. These lessons now cascade down to my children as we learn bird calls in the backyard and seek out countries on a map.

Through medicine, the Lord demonstrated for me His grace in the midst of agony, and the peace that can persist despite fathomless suffering. He allowed me intimacy in moments I never would have contemplated, and an opportunity to reach and to learn from people in the most dire of circumstances. He taught me about life, death, and the blurred expanse between them. He gave me insights into violence, stress, and grief, but also into love, and into a hope that swallows up all fear. I don’t think I would have a writing ministry had I not witnessed God’s work in the midst of suffering firsthand.

So, if your reasons for pursuing medicine are rooted in service to the Lord, GO. We all have seasons in life. When children come, God will show you the way. Either He will guide you to a flexible specialty, or part time work, or call you away entirely (as in my case), or bless you with a family you’re able to support despite the demands of work. Whatever the case, He will guide you.

Consider your motivations. Ask “for whom do I pursue this?” If within your mind and heart, you know the truth to be, “I pursue this to serve God,” then, GO. Go, and trust in the Lord with all your heart. (Prov 3:5)

 

 

 

13 Comments Add yours

    1. Katie Butler says:

      Thanks so much Sheila! Happy Easter.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Leta shaffer says:

    Katie Butler I praise God for your writings and being willing to speak out on this subject! I gave up my medicine dream when I got pregnant my senior year of college. This is something few people have supported or understood. The Lord did some major heart change in me as well and I love reading about what he has done in your life!

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    1. Katie Butler says:

      Thank you Leta, and praise the Lord for guiding you during such difficulties! Blessings to you and yours.

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  2. Nikol says:

    Hi Katie, I don’t remember how I came across your blog but I’m so glad I did. I’m a soon-to-be 4th year medical student and can already understand the situation you so honestly describe in the 3rd paragraph. Every day in my medical training I become more and more aware of the temptations that medicine holds out (success, prestige, recognition, power & authority) and every day I have to remind myself more and more that being a good doctor and delivering great care is sufficient, regardless of what anyone thinks of my specialty choice, how much research I accomplish on the side, or how many extra hours I can squeeze in to work while neglecting the things that ultimately matter most. Your story is encouraging to me, and I applaud you for having the courage to take a step away, reevaluate, and dedicate yourself to work that is timeless and valuable beyond any measure. I look forward to reading more.

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    1. Katie Butler says:

      Nikol, you will serve your patients so well with the centered, Christ-focused mindset you illustrate in your comments. We are all prone to idolatry, and in medicine, the path toward a “real job” requires so much emphasis on performance and competition that it’s easy to become lost. May the Lord sustain you with His grace in your journey. If I can help along the way, please reach out to me.

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  3. amyegott says:

    Katie, I’m so glad I’ve discovered you though Desiring God. Your writing has blessed me! I’m a homeschooling mama of three (16, 14, and 12 y.o.). You should check out Edie Wadsworth at lifeingraceblog.com. Y’all have a lot in common! 🙂

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    1. Katie Butler says:

      Thank you for your kind remarks, and for referring me to Edie! I just bought her book. 🙂 Hope you had a beautiful Easter!

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      1. amyegott says:

        That’s great! I enjoyed her book. I did have a beautiful Easter; thank you! I hope yours was wonderful 🙂

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  4. pilgrimswife says:

    Sometimes finding a good doctor is as hard as finding a trustworthy mechanic! I speak from the perspective of watching both my husband and my sister in law deal with cancer, chronic illness, and excruciating, long-term pain. I have literally begged God to guide us to doctors that were not “hirelings”. Puffed up, arrogant, uncaring, money-grubbing worldlings. It’s a maddening experience for the suffering and for their families.

    When you do find a good doctor, you know what intelligent mercy and compassion looks like! Even if they can’t find answers, they keep trying and they care!
    Thank you for reminding doctors to be Christ’s hands and feet. Blessings to you as you minister to your family’s needs, sacrificing your career and reputation for those who need you most.

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    1. Katie Butler says:

      Thank you so much. I’m sorry you’ve had such negative experiences with doctors. Although arrogance runs amok everywhere, in my experience most physicians start out aiming to do good in the world, but the system and the process of becoming a doctor gradually eats away at their humanity. It begins with overcoming visceral boundaries in medical school, e.g., dissecting a cadaver. . . then evolves to ego defense mechanisms to deal with the ramifications of failure (e.g., a patient’s death). The burnout rate is exceedingly high, and there is little spiritual dialogue in an arena crying out for the Gospel. Please pray for them. . . especially the arrogant ones! We all need Christ. May His peace sustain you, and again, thank you.

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  5. Becca says:

    Your words here and at Desiring God have encouraged me so much over the past year. Two years ago, I had to choose between being a single medical missionary and leaving med school to marry a likeminded man and serve overseas together, and after much prayer, counsel from church leaders, and studying the Word, I chose to leave medicine. It was the hardest decision of my life, but God used it to break down so much pride and teach me to place my identity in Him alone (that’s a work in progress). I so appreciate how you affirm the high callings of both motherhood and medicine! He is teaching me every day that He can be exalted in every area of life- what matters is a heart that loves Him and longs to become like His!

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    1. Katie Butler says:

      Becca, I so admire you for your resolve and clarity in the face of such a hard decision. I would love to know more about your own journey. May the peace of Christ continue to sustain you.

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