I’ve never worn a cap and gown, or walked across a stage when an announcer called my name. In fact, I have never posed for pictures with my diploma in hand or framed my accomplishments for hanging on my walls.
On Thursday evening, I will put on a purple cap and gown and attend my college graduation commencement ceremony. While I await my name to be called so I can make the trek up to the stage and cross it, my husband and three children will be in the stands cheering me on. I’m not the average college student. Now, finishing this degree this late in life isn’t the road I suggest for everyone, but this is the road that I took to finish my education. I never dreamed it would be this hard or take this long, but I’m coming to the end of this amazing journey…and it still doesn’t feel real yet. Somebody pinch me!
During my last year in high school, I was determined to finish early so I could attend a ministry-training program called Master’s Commission. The problem was, I had done such a poor job of keeping my grades up as a sophomore, that I would have to make up a lot of credits plus finish out my junior and senior year credits as well. I sat down with my guidance counselor to devise a plan that was doable and it included 2 rounds of summer school, zero hour classes for all remaining semesters, summer internships, and night school, along with a regular class schedule.
The days were long, and the homework felt like a heavy load each night. Truth be told- it was. Had I made some wiser life-choices as a young girl, I wouldn’t have found myself in that situation. As time passed and as I passed each class, my goal of graduating early became more and more real. Until the day when I found out I was one credit short of graduating. I had already purchased all my graduation invitations, and regalia, and the décor for my upcoming party. Which now, was not going to happen. Crying uncontrollably, I went to my guidance counselor to try and make some sense of what was happening.
After a long talk, she told me, “Honey, maybe you just aren’t college material.” Those were her exact words. What’s worse is, I believed her. So, I finished out the last few weeks of school and then finished my last credit course in summer school. For years and years I believed the lie that I wasn’t “good enough” for the college scene. I believed that I wasn’t smart enough or capable of handling the workload. So when my husband suggested I go back to college to finish my degree, I was extremely hesitant.
Didn’t he know I wasn’t college material? Isn’t that what everyone saw stamped across my forehead when I walked around each day?
That is how I felt… I felt inadequate in almost every arena of my life.
I ended up taking his advice (which I am so thankful for!), and I enrolled in my community college. Initially I did it to prove my high school counselor that I was in fact college material. I wasn’t even sure myself, but I took the first step and started out slow. Then that initial need to prove something began to fade as I kept pressing forward. Even when it felt like I couldn’t finish because of life or situations that would arise, I kept going by God’s grace. It wasn’t until I took one of my last courses that I felt as if I had found my stride and my purpose as a writer. I was no longer working toward proving myself to anyone. I was finishing for myself.
I’m not sure where you find yourself this morning.
Maybe you’ve heard the whisper of defeat and you’ve let it replay for years in your head. Maybe you’ve felt less than adequate for your assignment. I would even go as far as to say that many of us even heap those lies upon ourselves because we’ve felt so inadequate as spouses, friends, teachers, mothers, neighbors, employees, and yes, even as students.
Friend, I began to release the hurt of those words and erase the memory of my counselors’ advice along the path to earning my degree. Not because I blocked it out or
but because I realized the message was not the truth.
The only truth any of us can cling to is the truth found in God’s Word.
His word says that we are more than conquerors in this life (Romans 8:37)
He promises that we have been given a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)
He gives us peace so that we no longer have to be afraid (John 14:27)
We don’t have to believe the lies that roll around in our heads to keep us bound.
We don’t have to be afraid anymore.
We can say yes to the path in front of us that might look daunting, long, and hard.
We can say yes to trusting and believing God’s perfect and true words.
We can experience a life we never dreamed possible the minute we allow God to mend our broken hearts.
And sometimes when we do, we will find ourselves decked out in a cap and gown, waiting to hear our name being called because we finished the life assignment we once thought was impossible.
May you discover today that you are more than a conqueror.
May you experience the power of having a sound mind.
May you feel the peace the surpasses all understanding,
And May you run hard after the goals God has placed in your heart.
Peace – Liz