Optimism is put to the test


By Jenna Ebener

(Editor’s note: Jenna Ebener, a graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, is a social worker at a school in Colorado for students with a combination of medical, cognitive and behavioral disabilities. She relies on God every day to aid her on this wonderful, yet intense journey.)


It is interesting that after recently writing an article on the importance of optimism, my optimism has been tested to its limits. There has been a particular student I have been spending hours with each week. The whirlwind of events that have been impacting her both at home and school escalated her maladaptive behaviors to a scary culmination. Not too long ago, we found out she needed eye surgery due to self-injurious behaviors. Thus began a heart wren­ching journey of watching her go through the waiting period, surgery and healing period, which included her wearing protective gear, such as a helmet.

I found myself getting bogged down by the entire process. There were days of waiting without any news from a doctor and countless team conversations about the best way to keep her safe at school. There were so many unknowns leading my mind in endless directions, all of which led to feelings of worry and stress.


Then, God gave me a beautiful reminder. As this situation reached its culmination, God reached out to me through a friend and nudged me to take a self-lead retreat on merciful love. The timing could not have been more perfect. As I began this retreat that focused so much on trust in God, I had a stark realization — God is in control, not me. I started to understand that so much of my worry came from latching on to things that I could not control. I wanted so desperately to fix things, but there is only so much I can do. God, however, is omnipotent, and he is the one on whom I needed to turn my worries.

After this revelation, I started to break down the situation. I looked at what I do have control over and saw that I was doing everything in my power to help my student and those involved. Next, I looked at what I did not have control over, which was a lot. I realized there was one little, but still vitally important, thing I could still do — I could pray. I could offer my concerns to God and simply trust that he can do anything, even when my human eyes cannot see how. It was a process that took a couple of weeks, and one that I am still continually working on, but each day I rely on God, I feel more relief.

This relief is also very humbling. Soon after I offered up this trust to God, he started bringing all of the puzzle pieces together. We started getting answers, my student started healing, and many of the scenarios I had worried about, did not happen. As hopeless as I felt at times, I humbly realized it was all for nothing. As hard as it is, by letting go of things I cannot control, I find myself with a sense of lightness and hope. These feelings come from knowing that God is always watching and will take care of us, if we are only faithful enough to trust in him.

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