The Day I Bargained with God
By Grace Christine Bañez
When I was reviewing for the nursing board examination in 1993 I felt so unprepared that tension started to build up in my system. My friends and I went to church almost every day. We prayed the rosary and all the novenas which we believed would help us to pass and overcome all the challenges that would come our way.
Mind you, my scores in our practice tests barely reached 70 per cent, so how could I expect to pass the board with its passing rate of 75 per cent? I’d heard some of my friends phoning their parents, expressing their anxiety. Some of the parents told their children to just do their best and that they would support them no matter what the result might be. That made my friends feel less tense but for me it was a different picture. When I called my Mom to tell her about my scores, she pleadingly told me that I had to pass the board exam since, if I failed, we didn’t have much money to spend. She was building a house at the time.
I felt so tense and pressured. Why couldn’t my Mom be like other parents? Maybe because she was a single parent, having been widowed at 23, and was also spending for my brother’s education, on top of meeting all the family’s basic needs. Poor Mom! I loved her so much that I didn’t want to fail her. I lifted up everything to God.
At USC Retreat House, Talamban, Cebu City
My relationship with God at that time was so open. I could easily communicate to Him my thoughts, feelings and ambitions. It was really my dream to become a nurse and go abroad to help my Mom with the family’s expenditures. But it was just a dream, and I didn’t know if it would ever come true. I came to the point of bargaining with God, offering Him one very hard sacrifice if only He would give me and my batch mates the grace to pass the board.
Until now I can still picture the funny expression on God’s face as He asked, ‘And what would that be?’ I couldn’t think of anything at that moment, but after several days, as I was riding in a jeepney, I spotted a nun walking. It was then I remembered my promise to God. Without batting an eyelid I told God in my heart that becoming a nun would be the answer. I firmly believed that if I became a nun, God would still look after my mother and brother, as He had been doing for a very long time. And the ‘deal’ was closed.
We took the board and the result was incredible. Everyone in our batch had passed. Some were even among the Top Twenty or ‘Placers’. It was a 100 per cent blessing with 100 per cent effort. Some of our group had done their review at the University of San Carlos (USC), Cebu City, where we had graduated, others at another review center. We praised God for His glory!
It was after we passed the board that the hiring of nurses in the USA slowed down. Some were able go abroad, but for a fee, which was way too expensive for most of us.
After receiving the board exam result, I worked as a clinical instructor, first in my hometown, Ozamiz City, and then in USC. I loved my work and to the best of my ability tried to impart knowledge and positive values to my students. I totally forgot my promise to God. Thanks a lot, God! You blessed me by enabling me to become a licensed nurse by the age of 20.
It was in my mid-20s that I remembered that promise. I felt guilty and called my Mom, asking for her permission to join a search-in, to gauge myself if I am for that vocation . . . but my Mom told me that I was her only daughter and she opposed the idea of my becoming a nun. She didn’t even agree to any search-in activities.
That night I dreamt about a very big house. It seemed old but well-tended. I found myself walking up the staircase to the second floor where I saw a very big door. I opened it and saw a beautiful little angel floating in the air. The angel placed his right index finger on his lips indicating that I should be silent. There was only one bed in the room in which a father and his baby son were sleeping, the father’s arms wrapped protectively around the baby, who seemed to be a few months old, lying comfortably on his Dad’s tummy.
I wondered who these people were, since I couldn’t see their faces. The angel gestured, inviting me to look outside through the very large window. I could hear birds singing joyfully and see the sun beginning to rise. Looking down, I saw trees and a single bench on which I could see Jesus in His fluorescent, white robes. Tears were running down my face. It was a wonderful feeling to look at Jesus. It seemed that all the things that had lain heavily on my shoulders had been lifted. It was a very light feeling, seeing Jesus simply looking at me with the most beautiful smile I had ever seen.
At this point in my dream, I looked at the father and son sleeping lovingly and at the face of Jesus. He didn’t utter a word but His face spoke a magnitude of the understanding that only He can have.
He is a loving God, and He relays that no matter what vocation we choose, in which we can always serve Him; and where we are happy, He is always there to support us. I love you Jesus and I always believe in You.
May we be able to recognize God’s goodness in everything around us and may we remember the blessings that He continuously pours out on each of us, our family, friends, career and endeavors. May we be able to repay God’s goodness through the little things that we do each day.
In our vocation as nurses, may we be able to manifest God’s goodness by serving our patients with unequalled dedication, wherever we are on the globe.
Now, I am married to the love of my life, and we have a wonderful son. Do you think this is a coincidence? Maybe. But I believe it is God’s work of love.