You gotta do what you gotta do

night-shift-vector_mkicots__lMy granddaughter spent the day with us last week. While she and my husband bonded over a woodworking project, I slept.

I am NOT a new nurse but recently returned to working the night shift. I had worked 12-hours the night before and was resting before the same shift that night.

When I woke up late in the afternoon, she had some questions for me. I had answers for most of them.

  1. “Why don’t you work days anymore?” She knew I had just resigned a job working straight days to take this shift. That job was in management working 10-12 hours days Monday through Friday. I didn’t have to work weekends, holidays, or take call, but the hours were taking a toll. My husband and I made the decision together that I would return to nights because working 3 12-hour shifts gave me more free time. In addition to more family time, I could now resume my writing and get back to quilting. All these pluses outweighed the negatives associated with working nights. I explained, briefly, the benefits of these hours to her.
  2. “Will you ever work days again?” In describing the hours and the necessity of staffing a hospital for 24 hours, she wondered if I would work days again. Shifts get changed when people resign or retire and usually seniority guides the replacement. Although I’m seasoned (a “nicer” word for older or experienced), I’m the newest nurse hired to this department at a different hospital. With the years I have left to work, any opening will likely go to another nurse who has been employed at this hospital longer. That is the proper order, and I knew it when I accepted the job. To my granddaughter, I explained that I would probably be working this shift until I retire.

There were a few other topics we covered including why I work at all. While she is still young, the concept of working for money to pay bills was understood. I’m the only shift worker she knows, so the questions were more about the hours than anything else.

At the end of our discussion, this 7-year old generalized our discussion with a very grown-up summation. “Well, you gotta do what you gotta do.” Then, she smiled and said “Grandma, you’re like a bat. You sleep all day and are up all night!” Now, there are nocturnal animals I like better, but she had learned about bats in school and thought they were really cool. So, I accepted the compliment in the spirit it was offered.

As I got ready for work, I thought back to her comment – “Well, you gotta do what you gotta do.” That pretty well described the work ethic of our family. Over the years, my husband and I have worked different jobs, hours, and shifts to meet the needs of our family. We were a team and had to do some creative juggling at times, but it was what was needed at the time.

We’ve faced many of the same struggles that all families face. Sick children or babysitters, layoffs, moving to a  new town, etc. Through it all, we’ve worked together and sometimes it seemed like “tag-team” parenting. After one layoff, he took a job driving a semi from Monday through Friday and came home on weekends. I changed to the weekend option and only worked Saturdays and Sundays. It met the childcare needs we had at the time. He “fathered’ our children – I never referred to it as “babysitting.”

Looking back gives the advantage of perspective. Through all the changes in jobs and hours, I can see God’s hand providing the opportunities and open doors. The options may not have been what we were looking for, but it always answered a prayer and need.

While I can wish that money showed up when needed like manna, working for it is the reality. No shortcuts–just honest, and at times, hard work. When a need exists, and God presents an option to cover it, be prepared to do your part. Peter had to cast the nets after he had already toiled (all night – like my job), then the provision came in. The fish didn’t jump into the boat while Peter napped. In response, Peter fell at Jesus’ feet in worship. (Luke 5:1-9)

Any job – any task – not only provides the financial needs of your family, but can also be worship and gratitude to God. Col. 3:22-25

As long as it’s legal and you have the skills needed, it’s a potential job that can pay the bills. Pros and cons exist for all jobs. There is no perfect job, shift, or hours. Any job can honor God while meeting the family  needs.

You gotta do what you gotta do.


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