As of 11:58 p.m. on Dec. 8, I am done with my first semester towards my bachelor’s degree. Even though I love school and learning, as always, I am incredibly thankful the semester is over. For the next six weeks, I can comfortably breathe without worrying about what assignment or paper is due. In other words, I can relax.
This semester, I only took two courses. Nevertheless, life kept me plenty busy. Looking back now, I am glad I only took two courses. Obviously, I would have loved to know I had four or more classes out of my way by now. But, overall, I think taking two was the right choice for me personally, especially considering I recently got married, took a gap year, and worked. My situation could be completely different than the student’s beside me, and that’s okay. It’s called life.
Walking into this semester, I knew I would learn a thing or two. I would hope so, at least! Indeed, I did learn quite a bit. However, most of the lessons I learned came from experience–i.e. practice, failure, disappoint, pressure, etc. Textbooks are flooded with great information, yes. Without a doubt, though, the greatest lesson I learned this semester happened outside of the classroom.
Let’s set the scene first. My husband and I made plans to go out of town to see some friends one night. I also had homework due. The drive was nearly 45 minutes long, so I had great aspirations to finish my homework to and from our destination. Lo and behold, though, I was not making much progress on my assignment, by the time we arrived to our destination.
Now, I had a dilemma. I had three options and only enough time for two. I had to choose: Go to only one of our preplanned events and do homework. Or go to both events and not finish my homework. In my eyes, I was in a catch-22. No matter what option I chose, I had to let someone down, whether it be myself or one of my friends. Eventually, I decided to skip out on one of the events and finish my homework assignment. Let the lesson begin!
Looking back now, I realized I made the wrong decision that night. In my gut, I knew I did the moment I said the words, yet I still followed through with my choice anyway. This situation is one of the life moments I like to call: I would not fully understand it was mistake until I make the mistake.
If that doesn’t make sense, that’s the point. How many times do we blindly and fervently go into situations knowing they will be bad or hurt us in the end? A lot. It’s human nature. However, there is a beauty in this. God uses every situation to mold our story and walk with Him. It may not make sense to us then or even years later, but God still uses it. Even in our flawed human nature and innate desire to intentionally go against what we know is right, God uses it for His good. He did in this situation and He will continue to in every other situation.
Now, that we understand it was a mistake, let’s recognize why. Down to the root, I chose a letter grade over human relationships. Writing those words hurt, but they are truth. Acknowledging this was one of the deepest struggles of my semester, seriously. I could not break my task-oriented, must make all A’s tendencies until I reevaluated my priorities. I put an inanimate object over human life! Dumb, so dumb. Yet, of course, because I am sinful and prideful, I would not admit that to myself.
Let’s look at it from a different perspective: Would it matter in a day, a week, a month, or even a year, if I did not do too well on ONE assignment? Would my entire academic foundation begin to crumble? Would I suddenly become a non-studious student? No. All the answers are no. Honestly, though, I don’t always answer each of them with a no. One question always earns a yes.
Now, would it matter if I did not go to the event and support a friend? Would my entire relationship with him change? Would I make an idol of my school, if I did not go to the event? Yes. All of those answers are yes. The night in focus, I answered one of the questions with a no. I promised him I would be there, and I did not show. As much as he jokes with me, I am sure it hurt a little bit to not see my husband and me there. Quite frankly, I put my own needs, wants, and desires before a friend. That’s sin.
Thankfully, our relationship with this friend was already great to begin with, but it has only improved since then. In fact, most of my relationships have improved since then. Here’s why: My heart changed. My heart put God and others before myself. I began serving others before myself. From that day on, I told myself that no matter how much homework or any other occurrences I had, I would see someone when I said I would. I would drop everything. I told myself my relationship with Christ and other humans matter way more than other accomplishment ever could.
Ultimately, I would trust God with my schoolwork, not myself. Let me tell you, a newfound freedom and peace came over me when I gave my schoolwork to Him. The last project I just turned in was the biggest assignment I had all semester. Instead of being a recluse this past weekend, I saw my family when they needed me most. I spent time with my husband when he needed me most. I may not have finished when I wanted to, but I have never been more at peace about my education.
I challenge you to evaluate your priorities in life. Who or what do you put first? Who or what do you rely on? When you look your life, can you say with absolute certain that your heart was in the right place?
Lastly, I tell you this: Don’t lose heart. Understanding who we are and why we behave the way we do is not an easy process. That’s why God is ever-present, ever-faithful, and ever-knowing. I am not denying there will be future moments when I wrongly align my priorities again. Not at all. I am not denying there will be future moments when I rely on my own will and way, not God’s. Not at all.
Nevertheless, I am already improving and growing because I acknowledge and pinpoint my struggles, especially on a heart level. I am honest with myself, even when the truth hurts. How I see it, an ugly truth is better than an ugly heart.