I’ve been counting candles for three days. Thousands of candles. There is white wax smeared into my carpet and peppering my cat, who insists on sleeping under my feet. Why, you ask? Because, it’s my second choice.

God does funny things. My first choice was medicine. After a couple of unsuccessful applications to medical school, I made a practical decision and applied — and was accepted — to nursing school. I had a beautiful, wonderful, fulfilling career as a Neonatal ICU nurse for 15 years, followed by elementary school nursing for five years. What could be better than saving the lives of tiny little, struggling humans? What could be better? Coming to the realization somewhere along the way that each one of those tiny, broken bodies had a tiny, fragile soul, that’s what.

Somewhere along the way, I began to realize that the only reason this work was so precious and so important was because these small people were overwhelmingly valuable, not because their bodies were suffering, but because their bodies housed their souls. Otherwise, my idea that this work of saving bodies was valuable could be applied in equal measure to saving my wax-peppered cat’s body. Though I love our mentally challenged cat, if you made me choose between saving him and saving a stranger, I would choose that stranger without batting an eye, because that stranger is infinitely more valuable.

And if we have souls, then there is a supernatural portion of us that must be accounted for.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you , for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
— Psalm 139:13–16

To make a long story short, this changed everything. My thoughts changed, my music changed, my marriage changed, my mothering changed, my approach to this life changed and, ultimately, my job changed from NICU nurse to pastoral assistant. Things become very different when you go from a temporary body to an eternal soul. Some things change very quickly and some things more slowly, but change they do. The candles I’m counting have been held in the hands of thousands of souls as they stood together and worshipped the Lord our God for the gift of his son in Christmas Eve services throughout the years at c|Life. These candles have been a symbol of the birth of the light of the world, come to offer eternal salvation of our souls for no more reason than that he loves us and desires to do so. And again this year, thousands of souls will come together and raise these lights in honor and praise of Jesus Christ. Saving the lives of tiny bodies was great. Participating in God’s plan for the salvation of our souls? There are no words. Grateful is as close as I can come.

And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
— Ecclesiastes 12:7

Thank you, Lord, for your provision of second choices as you lead us along this path of growing closer to you.