I was 19 years old. A high school graduate, I was planning to pursue my college education at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. My goal? Graphic Design. I felt like I had finally found my niche in 10th grade when I entered the Graphic and Print Communications program at the Pascagoula Vo-Tech Center. I spent all of my spare time in the print shop, won a medal in competition in my first year, and even worked there part time during the summers. So my decision to enter the Graphic Design program at MGCCC was a no-brainer. I registered at my local campus, and would start with Drawing and Design. Then something happened with my financial aid, and the grant that I was expecting wasn't there. Having no funds otherwise, I backed out of college and got a job instead, very disappointed.
I was 22 years old. Working at the mall part time, I decided to jump back on the college bandwagon. I was approved for financial aid and registered with the same Drawing and Design schedule that I had a few years prior. I was so excited to finally be going to college! The first day of school arrived...and I was in the hospital unable to walk. I had a severe kidney infection, the result of a disease called Renal Tubular Acidosis, and was in a hypokalemic crisis, the result of a disease called Periodic Paralysis. The two conditions are debilitating, and I remember being bedridden for weeks. I called the college to withdraw, absolutely devastated. I remember crying and asking God why. I didn't understand.
At the age of 30, I finally became a college freshman. I barely survived my first semester at Bishop State, due to a kidney obstruction that resulted in surgery and put me out of school for nearly 3 weeks (of a 10 week semester)! I'm still not sure how it happened, but I managed to catch up on nearly everything and ended up with 3 A's and a B. What a whirlwind...it was utter insanity. But my grant wasn't approved for the following year, so I couldn't return. I remember asking God why this was so hard to accomplish. Was I not meant to go to college and better myself? I was so frustrated.
So this year, with my health declining and the clock ticking, I took a leap of faith. I applied for grants and debated for months on where I would go. Living right smack in between Mobile and Gautier, I had a hard time deciding and practically flipped a coin. I registered at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. On my schedule? Drawing and Design.
And now, it all makes sense. The disappointment of not starting college after high school. The devastation of being seriously ill and having to withdraw the second time. The frustration of not being able to return to Bishop State. Because at the age of 31, sick and broke, I am a freshman at MGCCC in the art department. It is not easy. I'm exhausted and miserable most of the time. I've been so sick and in so much pain that I've nearly collapsed. My blood pressure is high. My tolerance of my condition(s) is low. Sometimes I cry all the way there. Sometimes I cry all the way home. It is HARD.
But I LOVE it. It gives me a reason to get out of bed, and even though I don't understand what my purpose is in this life, right now I can't imagine being anywhere else with anyone else than this place and these people. I am so grateful to be there, I could burst. It's only been two months and I'm already dreading the day that I have to leave. I pray every day that I will do well in my classes, and somehow, make a positive difference while I'm there.
Lately, I've been thinking back to all of the frustration, heartache, and chance that has occurred where college is concerned. I didn't know why all of these bad experiences had happened to me, but God knew all along. I think about the what-ifs and it scares me. I think about the here and now and cry like a baby. I am so blessed. I talked to a teacher today who was going through a tremendously stressful event in her life, and how God intervened in the nick of time. Her story was just another reminder that our steps are ordered by the Lord (Psalms 37: 23-26). Whether we realize it immediately, as this lady did, or years down the road, as I am now, God can take our heartache and disappointment and frustration and use it for our good. That's why even in the hard times, I am in awe of God's hand on my life. I am so undeserving of His love and mercy. All I can do is say thank you, and pass it on.
All things work together for good for those who love God, which are called according to His purpose. - Romans 8:28