Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. ~ Matthew 6:10-13, KJV

On National Match Day, my daughter, Anna, LLUSM class of 2008, and her classmates were learning – after much exploration, traveling, and interviewing-where they had been matched for training programs. A computer had determined the outcomes – based on the matches between the students who had ranked their residency programs in order of priority and the training program that had done the same. For Anna, many questions arose during this process. “Where is God in this decision making?” “Which field fits me the best?” “How will this choice affect the important people in my life?” “How will it affect my spiritual life?”

In addition, at age 20-something, there is often little practical spiritual experience with the role God is willing to play in our decision making. Thus the struggle with other questions: “Will God see to it I get my first choice? I really think it’s the best.” “I can’t think of anything more perfect.” “What if I’m making the wrong choice. Will God somehow stop me or change my mind?”

In 1978, I had similar worries during the matching process. I was/am married to Fred – a classmate who was also matching, thus complicating matters. We matched for our internship year, but not for our subsequent residencies. Fred had chosen internal medicine while I looked forward to a career in obstetrics/gynecolgy (ob/gyn).

During our internships, my husband, who had never tried to influence me, came to me asking that I not reapply for ob/gyn. He felt it would be difficult for me to combine that particular subspecialty with family, and it was with family in mind that he was choosing radiology rather than a surgical subspecialty. Family was important; yet his words stung my “liberated,” independent heart.

Was God redirecting me? I had placed my life in His hands and prayed for His direction all along the way. I didn’t hate what I was doing, and, frankly, had to admit that lifestyle was more of an issue than I had realized. Could I fulfill God’s plan doing internal medicine? Did God intervene because I had asked Him to lead? Was He giving me some perspective (wisdom) that I hadn’t had in 1978? Yes, ALL of that was true.

Now, years later, I am satisfied with the balance I’ve managed between my practice as an internist and my family. I have been able to share God’s love with my patients in so many ways. In order to tweak my life and follow God’s leading, it was necessary to make choices along the way –  choices that became easier because I understood that God works in many ways to lead those who trust Him. He has been with me as I made good and bad choices, and He has brought joy and emotional/spiritual growth from them. I am reminded of the words of Plato: “O ye gods, grant us what is good whether we pray for it or not, but keep evil from us even though we pray for it.”

Consult God daily. Do your homework. Replace worry and doubt with faith. Place your life plans in God’s capable hands – AND RELAX. God can handle the stress.

Polly Cinquemani Dengel, LLUSM class of 1978-B, is an internist and lives with her husband, Fred, LLUSM class of 1978-B, in Avon, Ohio.