Three years ago, as a sixteen-year-old Sarah, I wrote two blog posts respectively titled The Road Not Taken and My Yellow Woods.
Tonight, as I sit here at my computer, part of me is laughing. Those two posts, which I lost when I switched my blog to WordPress, were about my decision (after a lot of prayer and soul-searching) to not pursue college after I graduated.
I graduated in May of 2016.
And tomorrow, August 14th, 2017, I will be starting college. It’s a Community College, to get my Associate’s degree in Business Office Technology, but still college.
Yeah. I’m really, really laughing.
To catch you up, since August of 2016, I have been working as a caregiver with Visiting Angels services. This job has been so much more than I anticipated, in both a negative and positive sense. I have cried and laughed and sometimes yelled (at home of course). I have learned so much.
My mom never really stopped talking about college, even after I started working. She would bring it up every two weeks or so, sometimes pushing, sometimes just dreaming. Most other people accepted what I had decided to do, what God had directed me to do.
Then, this summer, my parents and I had one of our fantastic (aka terrifying, tear-inducing) ‘serious’ talks. In the end, I realized I needed a steadier job- preferably a full-time job. It after two months of fruitless applications that I started thinking about college again.
I’m not going to go into the entire process, the obstacles God overcame, and the brilliant and perfect (of course) way He worked things out. What I want to focus on is this:
About halfway through the application process, I started panicking.
I know God is telling me to go to college, I thought, but does that mean I have been misunderstanding him and disobeying these last three years?
This thought terrified me. Had I just heard what I wanted to hear when praying that summer? Had I ignored what God was really telling me? Was He up in heaven sighing and thinking, ‘Finally. I thought she’d never stop and listen.’
Had I been living in sin for three years?
The answer was, thankfully, quick to arrive.
No. No, I heard God correctly, sort of. He did tell me not to go to college- right out of high school. I don’t pretend to understand most of what God plans and how He works, but I do know at least one reason He told me ‘no’ to college and then, now, is telling me ‘yes’.
Because He is good. Because He is kind. Because He loves His children and knows us better than we know ourselves.
He knew I needed this past year. He knew I needed this time of working to do things in me, to teach me things I wouldn’t have known the day after I graduated.
I learned things that ranged from serious to trivial.
On the trivial side, I learned how to talk on the phone. I have made a lot of phone calls to my office over the last year.
- I learned how to deal with dogs. Lots and lots of dogs. All kinds of dogs. Evil dogs. Sort of nice dogs. Lots of dogs have met me.
On the serious side, I learned how to listen when someone gave an opinion I was strongly against and when I wasn’t allowed to debate or discuss in return.
- I learned how to clean up all sorts of things.
- I learned that simple gestures are incredibly important.
- I learned that God answers prayer, and that when others are praying for you, God hears them.
- I learned that God protects me.
This past year was not me living in sin.
This last year was simply part of my Christian growth. It was God preparing me for this new chapter. It was God giving me an entire year to slowly, slowly bring me around to the idea of college.
Because He is kind and loving like that.
I have had so many people tell me I should go to college. Only one or two were saying it with the addition of ‘so you can get a good job’. Most of them said ‘because you’re so smart.’
I didn’t believe them. I still don’t, not exactly. I have never been very book smart. But, with a year of being out of school, I have realized that I love learning. I realized I missed it incredibly. I missed learning anything. So I am actually ecstatic to be going to college.
I’ve been telling people I’m nervous, and I realized this afternoon that I was inadvertently lying. So… I apologize.
Because actually, I’m not nervous.
I know I’m walking in God’s will in this. I know He has set this path before me. He has provided everything I need and more to get me to this point, so why shouldn’t I believe that He will help me learn? I learned to trust God through all of this. I learned to value His plan, to desire to seek Him and learn more about Him.
So while all the praise and glory goes to the Lord, I want to say thank you to some of you, readers, real quick.
Thank you to my Sunday School class of older ladies. You have impacted me so much, and each and every one of you are precious to me. You have encouraged me in work and now in school, and you have prayed for me. I can’t thank you enough for that gift.
Thank you to Paul Loftness. Paul, you told me that day we did those video interviews for MUN that I really ought to think about college- even Baylor, where you are attending. I can’t remember if I was speechless or not, but looking back I still get tongue-tied. That you, someone I consider to be a genius, thought I was smart enough to not just go to college but get into somewhere like Baylor, was mind-blowing. Thanks fort that encouragement.
To Diane Loftness. Thank you for always pushing me. Thank you for all the things you wanted me to go and do, even if I didn’t pursue them. Your dedication and hard work in MUN has and will continue to impact me for the rest of my life. You, like Paul, believed I could… do things. Accomplish things I never believe of myself. Thank you so very much for all you have taught me.
To my grandparents. Thank you for your support, emotional and physical. You let me talk and sometimes make a fool of myself, and yet you too think I can do these great things. Thank you again for your help with school this year, but more than that, thank you for the love you have always shown me. Thank you for your words of advice, your hugs, your bear stories, your spaghetti, your love. I cannot imagine better grandparents and mentors.
To my parents. Guys… you are incredible. Your willingness to support me, again, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, through my life is… something I hope I can emulate half as good for my own spouse and children. You are an amazing example to me and my siblings. Thank you for your work on the various aspects of applying, for calling the school and asking questions, for letting me cry, for letting me rant and be an idiot (and then correcting/teaching me of course). Thank you for your love. I am so often in awe of all that you do for us and for me. I can never thank you enough. I love you so, so much.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
My ‘road less traveled’ has had many twist and turns, some U-turns, some hikes, and even some cliff-jumping. That likely will always be the case. It is life, after all. But I will rest, even more securely now, because I know Who made the road and I know what lies at the end.
There will be many more yellow woods to come and the choices will be hard. But that does not mean God has left me.
“…for He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’”