[I wrote this about a month ago, and just now thought to check in and edit it. But here it is 🙂 ]
(In “Kisses from Katie” by Katie Davis, Katie writes a blog post in this format… and I like it, so I’m jacking it.)
So once upon a time… There was a girl named Stephanie. She lived a life that was pretty normal: she went to high school, was involved in band, theatre, and choir, and she graduated. She lived conventionally, but was always a little on the edge. Hair dye, ear piercings… She always wanted to be a little different. She went to college and discovered that she could reimagine herself any way she wanted! She took on a nickname (Star), started wearing dresses and knee high converse, and finally dedicated to letting herself be whoever she wanted to be. After her first year of college, the God that she had grown up with (and often selfishly relied on) but never really understood made himself clear in her life, and she said, “Yes, Lord!”
Through the next couple of years of college, she focused on balancing her two main goals: finishing college and serving God. This gave her life a plan: do mission trips as often as possible, graduate college, and then do what made the most sense: go to seminary. Better yet– she found a grad school that would allow her to double-Master in social work and divinity! This would allow her to keep balancing her life in serving God and working with people. A dual degree would allow her to take either direction– working in ministry (moving up in ministry, assumedly) or working in social work (a Masters degree would allow her to never start low in the job– she would start up high on the ladder and work her way up to changing laws!)
Well, she accomplished her life-long dream of graduating college and applied to the seminary program WITH an application for a full ride scholarship. She graduated in December and felt God calling her (oddly enough) to ministry about 45 minutes away from her college town. It was a strange calling, but obviously God speaking, so she went!
And it was hard, more hard than moving away from home to college. In fact, it felt a little bit like having her heart ripped out. She had established herself in her college town; she knew her way around, knew people, had made people her family there. Her best friends were there. Her life was there. And suddenly she was just tauntingly out of reach from it. And here’s the biggest thing: she finally had a car, a car that could take her anywhere she wanted to go– she just couldn’t go back to her town. Why? Because she hadn’t moved to her new town just for an internship or a job. This was ministry she was doing now, and her heart needed to get used to this new place.
There were many nights spent driving and crying.
But the days between those nights grew more and more, and every sermon she heard in those first two weeks were meant just for her. God gave her comfort. One pastor preached a sermon about how if God changes something, it can only be for the better. Another taught about how God sees his daughters as princesses, which reinforced the love that she needed to hear. And then, one night, while driving, crying, or talking on the phone, God whispered to her,
“What if you fit in better here?”
And she had to pause, because she had never thought about that before. She had searched for forever for a place to fit in. And she had new hope.
Well, the weeks began to pass more easily, and she spent all day laughing harder than she ever had with her new people. In fact, when she went back to her old town, she often found herself having to explain the new jokes that came so easily to her now. But now was time to plan for what was next. The next plan was to go on to grad school, to her double masters, to be a grand person! But as she prayed about the future, God convicted her about a couple of things.
One, grad school was a part of her life-long plan to eventually be famous. A big name. Since she was younger, there was not one time she did not picture herself as a big name in the future. Well-known. Acknowledged. Influential. It wasn’t a stated thing and she never advertised it. She had just planned to be the most successful person she could be. So why did she want to go to grad school? Well, of course, to continue with that goal. Yes, seminary is for serving God, but with a degree she could become a teacher or someone else of high importance in a church. She knew her desire for seminary was for herself.
She got accepted to seminary, but with an exception– she was wait-listed for the full-ride scholarship she would need to go to grad school. That changed everything.
Suddenly, she was considering what would happen if she didn’t go to grad school. She didn’t honestly feel like going back to school. Years and years of writing papers and $18,000 in loans and all she had was one really expensive piece of paper (framed up over her bed in a dollar store frame) to show for it. What had always been her biggest goal in life–a college degree– looked more like an expensive waste of time next to the option to serving God here and now.
And when she was at her ministry one day, one of the girls sat down and actually said two sentences to her. In a place where the girls are notoriously closed off, those two sentences meant a lot to this protagonist: mainly, that progress here was happening incredibly slowly but it was happening.
Two months into the job and she had two sentences to show for it– but those two sentences fueled a fire.
These were girls who maybe, maybe one day would open up to her. And that possibility meant that she could NOT give up on this place. Because progress was happening. And that meant God was working.
And she looked into her future and saw a gigantic open landscape. And she realized that she had two options: enslave herself to four more years of college– a goal that was part of her dream and part of what society expected of her– or wipe the slate clean.
She prayed, “Lord, am I meant to carry on the way I have been or should I ask you to take away my dreams entirely and give me new ones?”
She had the freedom to dedicate her life to following God however he asked–wherever, whenever, for any reason. But she would have to take these delicate dreams that she had gingerly packed like blown glass figurines in the back of her brain and place them at the feet of God.
Was she meant to take those out of her head, unwrap them and place them lovingly into the hands of God– not as a prayer, to be checked upon occasionally– but as a tumor to be removed and never seen again except in memories?
If she put them in his hands, she knew she would not get them back. She would, however, get diamonds instead.
A few days after spring break, I checked the mail. I did not get the full ride scholarship to seminary. I can wait a year, and reapply… but only as God guides me.
I have complete peace about handing that dream over to God, and I’m not asking for it back.
My future is the Lord’s, and I am asking him to make his dreams my dreams.
Let me tell you what– my future looks like one heck of an adventure now.