I turn 30 in a few weeks. I can’t believe it. It feels kind of surreal to realize that I won’t be twenty something anymore. However, although I can say that it definitely has me doing some reflecting and evaluating of my life, I feel pretty peaceful about it.
When I look back on my story, I am struck by the overwhelming theme of God’s faithfulness and his good leadership over me on many “off road” paths. From the standpoint of what man may call ideal, there is a lot about my story that was the opposite or shouldn’t have worked; but I am so glad that with God nothing is wasted and that He makes something beautiful out of the unlikely.
So as to not rehash my whole life and make this the longest post ever, I will start at high school graduation. When I graduated high school, my plan was to attend a four year college for pre-med. I would work my butt off and then be accepted into medical school. I had been accepted to Houghton College in a super small town in upstate New York after putting all my eggs in one basket and not having applied anywhere else. They had a reputation for being strong in the sciences among other things.
I started college full of gusto and enthusiasm and thoroughly enjoyed my first year. Sophomore year is when the struggle got real and I delved deeper into my major courses. I soon realized that although I loved science, my high school education had not prepared me well for college level science courses and I started to fall behind. I somehow managed to keep my head above water though and spent many long days at labs and getting extra help. Junior year began, and I was already feeling a little burnt out, but I continued on as the work load increased and tried to balance it by hanging out with an unlikely “carefree” group of people. Midway through Junior year, other realities started to hit. It had always been a stretch and a sacrifice financially for me to attend this college. It was an out of state private school and not cheap. However, God always seemed to provide exactly what I needed just in the knick of time.
This time was different. I was on winter break when I received a phone call from financial aide stating that if I didn’t come back with about the $3,000 that I owed for the semester that I could just stay home. We were able to get the money together but about two weeks after the semester had started. Back up to New York I went and scrambled to catch up the rest of the year. Summer was a very welcome break, but cue fall of Senior Year. Again I am short on funds for the year and this time have to wait a whole month into the semester to return. My professors were gracious enough to still let me enroll after the cut off dates even though I had missed a lot. After my late start, my grandfather died, and I went back home for a few days to be with my family for the funeral, etc. That was the breaking point. I fumbled through the entire rest of the year emotionally and academically. Even after working as hard as I could, it was clear that I wouldn’t be able to finish all my credits in time for graduation, so I decided to take a May term. Again things did not work out according to plan, and I came home instead, never having finished about six credits.
I returned home feeling utterly defeated after what seemed like the grand derailing of my life. I took a job at a local tearoom, which was a fun change of pace but didn’t pay very much, and it was the only thing I could find. The tearoom closed after my six months there, and I spent another six looking for another job to finally land one at a doctor’s office. Hooray!!! Things were looking up, I thought. Fast forward through two hard years at that place and many steep learning curves about boundaries, integrity and once again following Jesus in less than ideal circumstances. I was able to quit after my husband and I had our first baby in the summer of 2014, and I have yet to return to work outside the house.
Here I am on the doorstep of 30. After looking back on the start of my twenties, do you know what I feel??? Gratitude. I am so incredibly grateful because in all of the derailing of my plans, in the less than ideal, in perceived failure and hardship, God was in it all. He never left and He has and is making use of everything. He broke me down, and the things I was looking toward to save me in order to build a deeper relationship with Him and to create greater tenacity. Both of these things I would need for the financial struggle, difficult pregnancies and brokenness in relationships that would come later. I have found God on the unbeaten path and the road less traveled, in questions and unfinished journeys as much as in the joys of life. So here’s to 30 and the myriad of experiences it will bring. With God, life can be quite the off road adventure. Where are some places in your story that you can see God’s presence with you on the detour?