Today marks 84 days until I graduate college. And that’s kind of a weird statement to me, only because this day and this time have been a future kind of thing for me. It’s never been, “oh I’ll graduate college soon.” It’s always been, “I still have a year to go.” I’ve never really looked at it as I was one step closer – I was looking at it like I still had miles more to go.
So now. This profound moment. What do I have to show for it? Anxiety. Tears. Pride. Thanks to God.
In a swarm of trying to finish this semester, work, and begin making plans for my life post Bachelor’s degree, I have found a few pillars that stand as truth.
Number one: this was the first thing I can legitimately say I did all by myself.
From start to finish, no one but me is responsible for my college education.
Now for everyone who has prayed for me, mentored me, or given me advice – please don’t think I’m excusing you from the success I have had these last three and a half years. Let me explain.
If you have read my conversion series, you will know that I don’t come from a stereotypical, American home. I’m not going to lie – it was rough. I was forced to take on responsibility at a young age, and I often find myself wishing I had more of a childhood. So when I began looking at colleges, I knew I wanted to get away and I knew I needed to get out. I was (and still am) a dreamer living in a small town that was stifling me, instead of directing me and my bigger-world ideas. I didn’t know what leaving would grow to mean to me now, but I also didn’t know how to go about doing it.
But I learned – quick. And let me tell you, there is nothing more humbling than asking a bill collector for a brief lesson in how to pay your bills.
So when I walk across that stage to accept my diploma, I’m going to be reaching for something I’ve been running towards for the last three years.
Number two: rooting, and uprooting.
After I became a Christian, I had a community of people rallying behind me, willing to help whenever and however I needed it. It was a resource I left untapped for almost two whole years, simply because I didn’t know how to go about asking for help.
Now that I’ve not only established my home church, but I’ve connected with brothers and sisters here in Russellville, I’m understanding another facet of community – rooting and uprooting yourself.
I have made friends all across the city, not just in church. School, work, coffee shops, art galleries, and even sources from my stories. These people are what I think of when I think of “Russellville.” And it’s not like there’s a sense of finality with my move. It’s the fact that when I move, these won’t be the people I’m referring to when I talk about going to work. They won’t be my coffee shop conversations; they will turn into a weekend getaway and maybe a business trip.
The same goes for home. Here at school, “going home” means piling my laundry and homework into the back seat of my car and turning on Pandora for the two hour car ride. Sometimes I’ll have to call my boyfriend to keep me awake, because driving home on Friday nights after a long work-school week are peaceful enough to put me to sleep.
But now, going home will mean returning to an apartment after worship. Going home will mean running back to change clothes before my friends and I go bike riding. I won’t have to wait anymore for the weekend – I will be home.
Number three: Glory be to God
College will hold fond memories for me simply because this is where I met Jesus. This is where I gave my life to God; went on my first mission trip; shared my testimony; fell short of the glory of God; and so on. I have matured so much, spiritually, in the two years I have been a Christian, and all of that growth has been in the foreground of my college education, family problems and social struggles.
This time of my life has been unforgetful, challenging and rich. But I can’t say that my success and perseverance has been because I’m a strong willed woman. I can’t say that it’s been because I’m dedicated to my craft and my education. When I think of how far I have come, and why I’m able to get an education as a single woman in the first place, it’s because of God.
God has heard my cries of frustration and upset and pushed me to persevere. God has calmed storms of confusion and emotion and given way to rational thought. God has stood firm in His teachings and calling, and welcomed me back with open arms when I struggled with temptation or gave in to whatever fleeting emotion ruled my actions.
God. God has been the constant in this time of evolution.
Today marks 84 days until I graduate college, and that’s kind of a weird statement to me. I don’t think of everything I’ve done to build my resume or the tears I shed trying to get assignment after assignment turned in on time. I think of the people I will be walking away from, some only to become a memory I reserve a spot for in my heart.
So to you, the game changer, the friend turned memory – I’ll be thinking of you when I walk across that stage.