I’m sitting here at my coffee table covered with binders, books, planners, notebooks, and pens getting myself ready for the six classes I’m about to teach this semester as a full-time professor (that’s right I’m a full-time professor with an office!) And I’m crying. Not because I’m stressed. Not because I’m worried. Not because I’m overwhelmed. I’m crying because I’m here and this is really happening. The tears of joy and gratitude are spilling out as I’m reminded of the things my late husband said to me five years ago weeks before his unexpected death. I’m remembering all the trying times that have led to this–all the confusion, the heartaches, the up and downs, all those moments I was misunderstood and alienated.
Most of the time, doing the right thing isn’t easy. It’s scary. It’s rough. It doesn’t always make sense. We don’t have any idea where we are actually going or if we’ll end up on the higher ground we think we saw when we started the journey.
This fall will mark five years. Five years since I taught my first class accounting class as an adjunct professor. Five years since I unexpectedly lost my husband. Five years ago the puzzle of my life that was starting to come together got thrown into the air and it shattered my heart. Thankfully, time and effort can heal a heart in surprising ways.
One of my best friends and I were talking the other day. He was telling me this story about this bamboo fable he’d read. How the bamboo is in the ground but for years but no progress can be seen. People ridicule and discount the man’s faith, effort, and time he puts into growing this plant. But he doesn’t give up. He keeps caring for this bamboo seed until suddenly in the fifth year the bamboo sprouts and grows incredibly fast in a short amount of time. If he’d stopped caring for this seed or walked away from it, he would’ve missed seeing his plant grow. He would’ve missed seeing his faith turn into a real tangible representation of his work. He would’ve missed the success of his efforts.
I could look at this moment, the unexpected phone call on a Wednesday afternoon that lead to my full-time position, as a stroke of good luck but that would mean completely missing the message. That’s like standing at the top of the mountain and forgetting all the steps and rough terrain you climbed to get there. Like you magically transported yourself to the top. (Well if you could’ve done that all along why didn’t you?!)
This full-time teaching position was a right place right time thing BUT I wouldn’t have been in the right place at the right time if I hadn’t been taking all of the steps to get there. For five years, I’ve worked for this. Class after class. Hour after hour. The last twelve months of my life have been some of the roughest I’ve had in a long time. I’ve watched my mother-in-law fight cancer and find her seat in heaven at the end of it. I’ve been knee-deep in loss—loss of life, loss of health, loss of financial stability, and loss of relationships. I’ve sat in tears on my kitchen floor, been stranded on the side of the road, sobbed at an altar, held a dying woman’s hand, wrapped my arms around hurt children, and poured my heart out to Jesus on my knees multiple times.
Each time, God provided. Sometimes it was the strength to pull myself off the floor and put myself to bed. Sometimes it was the humility to call for help from a friend. Sometimes it was an instant feeling of inexplicable peace and comfort to dry the tears.
The puzzle is being put together again or rather I can see it forming before my eyes. I keep picking up the pieces, putting them on the table, and asking, “What next Jesus, where does this one go?” Last year’s big piece was my conversion to Catholicism and this year’s big piece is this job. Neither did I see coming.
When we let God put the puzzle of our lives together for us, we don’t always understand His designs, His process, but He does things best. After all He created this puzzle, who are we to doubt His capabilities to put it back together?
Let my life remind you, to keep going. Don’t give up on what God has put in your heart. Keep doing the right things. Keep taking the steps. Some days everything seems impossible but if you don’t give up you’ll see the top of the mountain. I know that’s not always easy to believe but try. Let this special moment in my life, be hope for you and your struggles. <3
Today I’m thankful for those people who never let me quit, who always pick me up, who remind me of who I am, and who are the reasons why I keep doing the right thing. Just because you can’t understand why or how something can work out doesn’t mean it won’t. Just because you can’t see the progress doesn’t mean things aren’t moving.
Pray hard. Work hard. Love hard. And never ever EVER give up on your always and forever!