Remember Sliding Doors, that movie where Gwyneth Paltrow got to see the paths her life might have taken, all depending on whether she caught a train or missed it? Not a great movie, but I had one of those moments today where I caught a glimpse of another track that I could have been on....
This morning at church I picked up an old issue of Australian Presbyterian magazine. It was going for free on the book table so I thought I'd take it home for a look.
Looking at the prayer list that takes you through prayer topics each day for the whole month, I found a familiar name. A doctor who did one of his medical student placements at the first hospital where I worked, back in 1993. He stayed for a few weeks in the nurses' quarters where I was living at the time.
He was a nice guy. I remember going for a walk at the beach with him. He wrote me a few letters after he went back to wherever it was that he was studying. Life went on. I moved to another town and met Chris. Before things got too serious with Chris, I received a Valentine's Day card from the doctor. I never replied to it, but I did hear later that the doctor had met and married someone else. I was happy for him. By that time Chris and I were very much together and planning our own future.
So, fast forward fifteen years. Thanks to the wonderful world of the internet, you can Google people to find out where they are now. And so, as you do after finding a familiar name and having lost contact with the person, I put the doctor's name into Google. And discovered that these days, he is doing cross-cultural/missionary work as a medical superintendent of a hospital in the Western province of Papua New Guinea. As well as the hospital work, the hospital trains community health workers, and is supported by various missionary partner organisations, including Australian Presbyterian World Mission. After finishing his medical training, this guy went on and did training as a GP, is married with three kids (one of whom is named Rosie...okay, that part did freak me out a little...) and he divides his time working between PNG and the NSW Central Coast. He has a blog where he updates his financial supporters with info about his family and his work.
God's plans for me were different. I have no regrets at all that I didn't reply to that card all those years ago. Things might not have been any different even if I had. God has richly blessed me in the life and family that I have. But sitting at the computer, I just had one of those moments where I saw another path my life might have gone down if I'd chosen differently.
I think it's absolutely fantastic that this guy has gone on to become a missionary and to use his medical skills for the furthering of God's kingdom overseas. I'll pray for him and his family. Maybe one day I might even have the courage to email him to see if he remembers who I am....