Since day one, I’ve been told that I am smart, talented, and beautiful. With regards to at least the first two traits, I have tried to prove that my supporters are right. I was precocious. Then I was bright. And finally, I became a hard worker.
The older I get, the more I’m taught that hard work and dedication do not always pay off. You may study for hours for a quiz to still get a D. You also might completely forget you have a test and still ace it. Apparently, I haven’t learned that lesson yet, because I still expect to reap what I sow. Therefore, if I show myself to act with integrity, try to follow God in my pursuits, pray for His will, and work myself senseless, the right results should appear.
Even here, at BJU, I’ve been…encouraged to think of myself as special. My friends and teachers expect more from me, because I tend to give more to begin with. I am a quick study, I problem solve well, and I take initiative. And, I’m even trying to learn how to take correction gracefully. Now, before any of you start to think, “Wow, she really is a cocky little thing” let me make this caveat: I never believed them. I thought that yes, hard work pays off, but I also thought that, in a way, I was just lucky. I’m just good at taking tests, I’m not actually smart. Or that everyone else would get the exact same results if they put in the exact same actions. I honestly never thought I had a very high opinion of myself.
And then this school year happened. I got grades I’ve never gotten before. I struggled academically in ways that I didn’t even know were possible. There were personal events that I couldn’t have foreseen and never would have chosen. I was working harder than ever and succeeding less than I could ever remember. This semester seemed a bit easier than last, and I was thankful for the respite.
Then God burdened me to start looking at graduate assistant positions. For those of you outside the bubble, the GA program allows a student to take a full course load of graduate studies and work full time for the college, so that you pay off your entire degree by the time you finish that degree. I was firmly convinced that after I got my undgrad diploma, I would waltz back home and pursue further schooling there. And then one day, I became not firmly convinced. In fact, I was so very unsure that I should come home that I prayed for very long portions of the day for an entire week over whether or not I should I apply for some grad positions.
So I applied. I got accepted to return as a student. I submitted five applications and waited. A month later, I had my first interview. I prayed and debated over a few other positions, talked with other departments, made some decisions. I didn’t get the job from that first interview. Instead, I was pointed to a brand new position, one that looked tailor-made for me: fitting all my qualifications, would give me room to grow, and plenty of flexibility. I would be able to help frame out what the position would look like for following GAs. I had the interview, both with the dean of the school and the head of the department. A week later, when I was asking for a deadline that I would know the answer by, I was told that I should have gotten an email, but the position had been filled.
I was devastated. I am devastated. As much as I have wanted to go home for three years, I desperately wanted to stay here. Most of my reasons are rather carnal and craven. In fact, I don’t want to go home, because I’m doubting God. Throughout this whole process I kept praying that His will, not mine, would be done. That He would show me what to do. And I thought that meant staying here, since that would be the harder thing. Instead, it looks like it’ll be going home.
I want my family. But I want them here.
My church is here. I no longer have a church back home.
My school is here. The education I’d be scraping together back home will be rough to say the least.
My chances for med school are better here. I don’t even know that PSC has any chance of sending students to med school.
My chances of getting married are pretty much only here. There is no one back home.
My best friend is getting married. My sister is leaving for four years. I do not have a job. I do not have a boyfriend. I will be leaving all the relationships I tried to cultivate for three years here.
And I feel like a failure. Because I have worked and worked and thought I was growing and apparently, I haven’t. Because I don’t believe that going home is God’s will, even though He is so clearly showing me that it is. And I don’t believe He can provide an education or a job or a spouse, even though He is the only One who will ever provide those things for me. And I do not think He is good, even though that is the only thing He has ever been to me. The lesson I should have been learning is not that if I work hard enough, good things will happen. The lesson I should have been learning is that I try, I work, but I rest in God alone, because He will do whatever He wills in spite of what I do, not because of it.
God is not my personal, spiritual vending machine. I do not punch in a formula and put in the right things and get exactly what I want from Him. I am His clay. And I try to fight Him instead of allowing myself to be molded into His image.
So I apologize, formally, here, in print to God. I’m sorry and I am so very wrong for my disbelief, for my anger, for my hurt and assumed rejection. Please forgive me for doubting that You ever had anything less than best for me. And I cry like the father in Mark, “I believe, Lord, help my unbelief.”
And to the rest of you here in Greenville, I’ll miss you terribly. I’m not sorry I made friendships here and I refuse to regret giving of my life and time and heart to you. It will hurt not seeing you, or hanging out with you, or sharing my feelings, thoughts, and dreams with you. But I won’t forget you. You taught me a great deal, like the importance of meal plans and how a real church feels and acts and worships together.
To my faithful few in Florida, I’m sorry I didn’t want to come back. Please believe me that it was not because I didn’t miss you, but because I feel like I no longer belong. I worry that I won’t make sense there and that I will not be needed. So thank you for wanting me back anyway.
I am very uncertain about what this next chapter holds, and what on earth I should do. So I’m going to try and live a little less by the rules of Martha, and a little more by the mantra that, “I know Who holds tomorrow, and I know He holds my hand.”