"Well, I'm back," he said.
Even though that is the last line of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, I thought it appropriate to begin again with that. It's good to be blogging again! And Lord willing, I'll be a little more regular with it like I was before college.
Don't look at me like that. One can hope, y'know.
And just like that -- four years and college is over! It's been a week and a half since graduation, but I still can't believe I made it this far. It was all God, I can tell you that.
On May 4th (coincidentally also Star Wars Day), I received my degree in Creative Writing, the result of 8 long semesters-worth of work. On the same day, my husband received his master's degree in theology. I'll tell you what -- it was pretty neat to be able to graduate together. However, the master's degree is just a stepping stone for my hubby as he's planning on continuing his education in seminary and getting a doctorate.
Lord willing, in about seven years, I'll be married to a doctor. How's that for cool??? I'm so stinking proud of my husband.
College isn't easy. There were times when I thought some classes were gonna be the death of me, some assignments would never be completed, some tests would catapult my GPA to irreversible depths... but I passed the classes, I completed the assignments, and I managed to squeak out a pretty nice GPA to cap it all off.
But there was one course I failed in miserably. Four times.
Have you ever gotten the feeling that God really wanted you to learn a specific lesson? As in, He wanted you to learn it so badly He sent it to you more than once? Because that's exactly what happened to me.
I thought I knew how to depend on God as my source of strength. Not far into my freshman year, however, God struck me with a bullet in the head. Metaphorically, of course. He showed me as a energetic, stupid freshman exactly how much I was relying on myself by giving me a knee injury while playing society soccer. Not only did the knee pain kick me out of soccer for the rest of the season (not that my exercise-induced asthma helped much in that decision), but it also made getting to class difficult at times. Steps were a nightmare. I was thankfully on the first floor in my dorm, but I had several second- and third-floor classes. Thus, it was either be late to class with a sore knee, or take the embarrassing elevator ride. To say it bluntly, that year was very humbling as it forced me to look to God as my source of strength.
Sophomore year. I had the lesson down, right?
Sophomore year began with a shoulder injury. My sister had hyper-extended her shoulder, and she wasn't allowed to carry her own backpack. So, I, as a helpful older sister, volunteered to help her carry it around. I had her backpack slung on one shoulder and mine on the other. The result? I hurt my shoulder, and then I wasn't allowed to carry backpacks anymore. Oh, the irony. Again, I was depending on my own strength to get around and help my sister when I should have been depending on God.
I managed that semester having to accept the assistance of a very nice young man to carry my backpack around. Another friend and some cousins helped my sister carry hers. After always refusing help with my backpack, it was humbling. Honestly, I hated needing help.
Second semester sophomore year, I struggled with random fevers and a lot of fatigue. My sister (also my roommate at the time) had some of the same symptoms and was diagnosed with the epstein barr virus -- mono. Guess who else had mono? Yeah, yours truly. For Spring Break, I spent the entire week in bed -- only allowed to venture out for food. I was weak and tired.
Again, I had to rely on God as my source of strength.
Two years... and the same lesson. You would think it would have gotten through my thick skull at this point.
Junior year rolled around. I was still recovering from mono, but I had learned how to take care of myself better. I started relying on my own strength once again, and God sent Ken back into my life.
(For those of you who don't know, Ken is my evil twin, a.k.a. the person I become when I have asthma.)
At first, I thought it was just a quick visit from Ken, as he likes to come stay with me on the weekends (not cool). But a whole month went by, and he was still sticking around. As it happens, the smoke from the horrible forest fires in Tennessee was drifting south to my college, and I couldn't breathe outside unless I had a mask on. Coughing set in, and I actually had one teacher stop class so she could find me a cough drop. Again, weak and miserable, it was another humbling year.
Senior year I was sure I had the lesson down. After all, I'd spent the summer getting married and setting up my first home with an absolutely amazing husband. What could go wrong?
Truth be told, nothing went wrong. Everything went just the way God had it planned. The week before classes started, my husband looked at me and said in his blunt way, "You've been moody lately and you look kinda bloated. I think you're pregnant."
(Side note: Most husbands shouldn't speak that way to their wives, but that's just how my husband and I communicate. I love our relationship.)
I was adamant that I was not pregnant, but we got a test...
And it was positive.
Over the numbing, sheer joy at the realization that we were going to be parents, the tiny logical part of my brain kicked in: How in the world could I complete an entire year of school pregnant? Morning sickness was one thing, but our baby was due the last week of classes spring semester. Meaning that I'd be approximately giving birth a week or two before I graduated.
Truth be told, I didn't have a terrible pregnancy. Morning sickness, though ill-named, wasn't too bad -- but I had to miss class and work sometimes because of it. The normal aches and pains weren't awful, but as I progressed further to the 9 month mark, I became more and more limited as to what I could do. God gave me just enough strength to do what I needed to do, even though I was often not allowed to get out and do extra things.
Our little daughter arrived on April 21, two weeks before graduation. As I was still in recovery after giving birth and not allowed to walk very far, my husband took me across the stage in a wheelchair to receive my diploma.
For someone who wanted desperately to be independent and do everything for herself, I had to be broken and humbled. God really used college to show me how much I needed Him. There was no way I could have survived all four years on my own. I'm very grateful for everything that He did for me -- there's countless other stories I could tell you.
I'm not telling you all these things to get you to feel sorry for me. I would not change the last four years and the lessons that God taught me through them. I'm sharing this story because God's still working on all of us. I'm 24, married, a college graduate, and a mom, and I sure don't have my act all together yet. God's still teaching me, and I'm not ashamed to admit that.
Even if God has to give you the same lesson four times, take it with grace and LEARN IT! Sometimes the thing we need the most is the redundant reminder.