It's been a long time since I have written in my journal since I have given a public speech or written a blog. I decided to take the journey of nursing school to obtain a Bachelor of Nursing degree, which has taken me the last three years to accomplish. I have had no time for even self-care, but as of June 9th, I am the proud owner of a BSN. Next up is the state board exam, and before I dive in and recluse once again to succeed in this test to obtain a license to practice nursing, I take a moment for a brief message for my friends, loved ones, family, and those who might read.
I begin with my back story (in a nutshell because the entire story would be a five volume novel). I have been trying to earn this degree for 38 years. I graduated high school in 1984, and I had lived a life of service as a nursing home and hospital volunteer; I worked in the health occupations program in school as a phlebotomist and nurse aide, and after graduation, I moved from Texas to Iowa and attended nursing school. However, the toll after the accidental death of my three-year-old daughter, a divorce, and the feeling of complete failure was too much to handle. Racked with the guilt of a mother and overwhelming grief, I buckled, and I didn't make it, and I really began to not think much of myself, so much so that I just gave up in my heart; I was unworthy of love, even from God, and so I shrank in testimony, in spirit, in life.
As time passed, I gradually gained some strength. I resumed classes and prerequisites to become an RN, began a relationship with Heavenly Father, attended church, and became the mother of three more children. I tried to raise a family and created a nonprofit dance program (that is still going strong today). But after two terrible divorces, one from a member of the Church holding the position of Elders Quorum counselor (who left for a stripper), financial ruin as a single parent, and a series of bad decisions that left my little family completely devastated, I was broken, and I hated myself. How could anyone love me, much less God? After carefully taking my children to my mother so they would have a better life, I sat one night in a waffle house in Grand Prairie, Texas, in the back booth, with a bottle of pills in my purse and a Mr. PIB (they didn't have Pepsi) I was planning to take my life. A very observant waitress named Alona (who I now call my sister) had a good sense and felt in her heart that I was desperate; she wouldn't let me leave and sat with me that night; we talked for her entire shift between customers. By the time we left, I had a job as a waitress to help with our family crisis, a new friend that somehow loved me more than I loved myself, and a mustard seed of hope. I brought my children home and tried to start a new life. I resumed nursing classes and dance classes, which I had stopped, and tried to make a decent life again. It was not an easy road, though, and as I look back, I see how my bad choices tore my family apart, and we all suffered greatly. Though I attended church and literally drug my kids with me, I had no love for myself; my decisions were based on no love for myself, which affected not only my life but the lives of my children, and the thought of my heart was how could the love of the Savior, the atonement, possibly be for someone like me, who had failed so terribly.
It was a tough battle, no I take that back, it was a retched war, but I fought, and I fought, and I fought; I went through a crippling repentance process that I have testimony was given to me by the grace of God to gain strength and closeness to the Savior that is unmatched. I re-entered the nursing program and pressed forward with faith. Yet, sometimes, even faith and repentance aren’t enough to carry our families after devastating mistakes, and this time the death of my middle child, my son, as a victim of suicide was the ultimate blow. I had faith in Heavenly Father, I had faith in my Savior, I had faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but I had no faith in myself; I was to blame for the death of my children; it was a burden I could not carry, and I broke. I left the nursing program, dancing, my family, and myself. I prayed the Lord would take me in my sleep so I wouldn’t have to wake up to the pain I had inflicted on myself and my family, and I stayed that way for about 8 months. The one good thing about this was the connection I had previously developed with the Savior, and I never left him or the church during this time; it is what saved me. I woke up one morning from the grief that had blinded me, picked myself up by the bootstraps, put myself in God’s service, and went out with missionaries to help others. I had daily scripture study, became involved with callings and service, put myself back into classes for nursing, started teaching dance again, and, most importantly, I set out to save my family. But, due to financial constraints with death and health issues, I was unable to finish nursing as quickly as I wanted, and classes were taken one at a time to try and get through. When I was finally ready to take my test and re-enter the core program, my stepson died suddenly from a ruptured aorta. Again, we were devastated as a family. Following this, my husband had a stroke and was hospitalized, and the future was not looking bright for a nursing degree; in fact, I was scared. But with the healing power of the Savior, he made a recovery and was able to work again, and I was still in time to get into the program; then COVID came, and all the schools closed. However, I wasn’t giving up this time; even though Covid forced closures, I kept taking what classes I could online and following the process to be ready.
I received an email one day from West Coast University that said they were open and operational online with a full nursing program and wanted to give me more information. I thought this had to be a scam; my luck could not be this good, so I ignored the message for several days. Then one day, when driving home from work, I heard a voice tell me to call the number in the email. I said to myself no, I’m not going to do that. I will get my heart broken from some scam. The voice came very loud then and said CALL THE NUMBER! I pulled my car to the side of the road, opened my email from my phone, and called the number. With the help of Roche Garner, a wonderful recruiter, I was so graciously helped and given scholarships and all the help I needed to enter the BSN program. I couldn’t believe the blessing I had been given; it was a miracle. Now fast forward to June 2023.
For the past three years, I have been diligently working towards the dream of the BSN. During this time, my car quit (it’s buried in an unmarked grave), my mother had a stroke, my husband had a second stroke, an abdominal aortic aneurysm, a carotid stent, and cataract surgery, I was addmitted to ICU for COVID during finals week in 2021 (thankfully I passed) . I lost my job and had no income, I suffer with chronic migraines, and axiety/PTSD, my uncle died, my biological father died, my aunt died, my three doxies died, I was called to Young Women’s presidency, I had a huge dance recital with 70 students, then called to Primary presidency, folks the struggle was real! But today I am talking to you as the proud owner of a BSN nursing degree. So, what does this all have to do with talking to you today? Two things….Service and Love
The week before my final exit exam, I asked for a blessing from some dear and kind priesthood holders. I was in a state of panic; I felt I didn’t know enough, I wasn’t good enough, and what if I failed, the pressure was so overwhelming that I couldn’t get a hold of myself. So, I sought them out and talked to them. I was counseled in this blessing as well as my patriarchal blessing that if I prepared myself to receive the things I desired in this life, I would receive them, I was further counseled that I had prepared well, and I would succeed with diligence and faith. But that is not the part of the blessing that hit me. The priesthood holder pronouncing the blessing said he felt inspired to counsel me to see myself as the Heavenly Father sees me and give myself some grace,,,, how could I possibly do that, someone like me who was so sinful and still makes mistakes, someone like me who fell, someone like me who at one time felt I was being punished and left the Lord for a time, someone like me who failed so miserably and was not worthy to be loved in such a capacity, how could I see myself as He does. I thought about how Peter must have felt when he went out and wept bitterly after denying the Lord; he loved Him with all his heart; but he was having a truly rough time, and that’s how I felt, and I wept bitterly; how could I find myself through Christ?
Elder D Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke in March 2016 about finding yourself through Christ; he quoted a professor that gave some insight into this saying, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, God’s work in your life is bigger than the story you’d like that life to tell. His life is bigger than your plans, goals, or fears. To save your life, you’ll have to lay down your stories and, minute by minute, day by day, give your life back to him.” (Finding Your Life, 2016). This follows in line with Elder Brian K Taylor, who taught, “How can each of us experience the power of understanding our divine identity? It begins by seeking to know God, our Father.” (Welch, 2022)
I am by no means perfect, nor will I ever be, and I do still need work in forgiving myself for some of the past in which I felt like I broke the innocent hearts of my children with my choices. But I did take comfort in those few days before the exam with temple attendance and heartfelt prayers asking him to help me see myself as he does and find myself in Christ as the spirit whispered to me; your offering is enough. I had already given my life back to Him, and He had accepted me. This is how we find ourselves through and in Christ; this is how we love ourselves; we give our lives to Him. As taught by Elder Boyd K Packer, we are sons and daughters of a loving and living God; nothing can change that. That is where we must find our worth (Welch, 2022). Satan and even the world will tell us we are not good enough, but Heavenly Father will always love us. Losing ourselves for His sake will allow us to find ourselves. And if I had done nothing else good in my life, I have truly loved Him with all of my heart; I quite literally lost my life, but it was made new through Him. To those who suffer, to those who are afflicted, tried, tormented, abused, to those who are sick, to those who grieve, to those who feel they can’t make it, lose yourself in service; by doing so, you will find yourself in Christ, and your burden will be eased. In the words of Elder Jeffery R Holland, “Don’t you give up! Don’t you do it; keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead—a lot of it” (An High Priest of Good Things to Come, 1999). When you lose your life for Christ, you find it. There is nothing he can’t heal; there is nothing he won’t forgive….
On exam day, after passing, I fell into the arms of my instructor and cried so hard that others around me began to cry. I had tried for many years to obtain this degree that would allow me to be financially self-reliant and serve the children of Heavenly Father. It was my dream come true….MY DREAM CAME TRUE, and I am like George Bailey (It’s a Wonderful Life), am the richest man on earth.
Now for just a moment before I end this autobiographical nutshell blog, I want to stress how I made it. In our Sunday School lesson a few weeks ago, we reviewed the last supper, the washing of the feet, and the new and everlasting covenant to love one another as he loves us.
When the Savior washed the feet of the disciples, he taught of service and love. So many of you have washed my feet…. There is not enough room to blog your names or the service you gave to me through the years. But for nursing school, I thank those who paid for fees when I had no money, I thank those who gave me a car so I wouldn’t have to quit, I thank those who gave me a place to live because I could not have attended school in Richardson without it, I thank those who gave us food because we had no money, I thank those who paid our bills, I thank those who gave me gas money, who bought me a coke and bag of Fritos, who talked me through class, gave me books, did my hair, talked me through a tough test, check off anxiety, listened to my silly jokes, and I thank those who took care of my family so that I could go and do this. I thank those who prayed for me and my family, who thought of me, who sent good vibes, who clicked the like or heart button, who sent uplifting text messages, who danced with me, who helped with my dance program and recital, who didn’t hate me when I yelled and screamed out of stress, who talked to me, gave me medical care services without charge or reduced fees, who tutored me, who held my hand, and for all that loved me and served me in any way, I thank you. YOU have exemplified the Savior’s teaching to love one another and serve. I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today without your contribution to the welfare of my soul. May God Bless and keep you always…..
Dixie Dawn, BSN
(P.S. I still have to pass the state board exam, so I thank you for keeping the prayers going.... UPDATE! 7/13/2022 I PASSED THE STATE BOARD EXAM!! I AM NOW DIXIE DAWN BSN, RN THANK YOU simplenursing.com for your gift you were the best for study!!! 😊)
Finding Self-Worth in my Identify as a Child of God, Molly Ogden Welch, Church Magazine, December 2022
Finding Your Life, Elder D Todd Christofferson, devotionals.lds.org
An High Priest of Good Things to Come, Elder Jeffery R Holland, General Conference, 1999, chruchofJesusChrist.org