What do you do when doing the right thing means giving up something that you love? You do it anyway because well… IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO. Right? Maybe? Ok, this is going to be painful and there will be some that won’t understand why but, for me, this is going to hurt.
I have decided not to return to my schooling for the time being. Those of you who know me really well are probably just as shocked to hear this news as I am to deliver it. For those of you who are wondering why this is such a big deal, let me see if I can explain.
I’m sick (well duh!) No really, I’m pretty gosh darn sick… a lot. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to feel like I’m a productive, kind, helpful, capable, and intelligent member of my family and society at large. Often because I am sick I am overlooked or swept under the rug by well-meaning individuals who feel that they are only protecting me. While I believe that those individuals truly have my best interests at heart they are actually missing the heart of the matter which is… I still matter! Or, at least, I hope I do.
The reason I decided to return to school was to stave off some of those helpless, inadequate feelings I’ve been fighting against. The process of pushing myself to reach that goal has been an important life-line in my mental and emotional well-being. The idea is that, while my body falls apart, at least I still have my mind and spirit and continuing my education was the outlet I used to be “apart” from myself. I need opportunities to think of things other than me. School provided that for me. It also required me to really stretch myself in a new and different way. For example, at first I returned with the intent of getting my degree in English Literature and eventually narrowing my focus to Library Sciences (yes you do need to go to school to be a proper librarian.) I did this for two reasons. First, I love reading and analyzing what I’ve read. I love the process of soaking in the writer’s work, processing it through my own life filters and then writing about it. Second, it required that I do little to no math. I used to hate math in high school so why put myself through it again?
Well, little did I know that one little astronomy course would sink itself so deep into my core that I would want nothing more than to trudge through the necessary math in order to learn about the stars. I felt so strongly about it that I promptly changed my major and went right back to square one. I’d avoided math like the plague so this change meant that I would need to start with college algebra and work my way through to physics. But I did it because, holy moly, I was in love with the idea of understanding a little bit more about the inner workings of the universe. Then as I progressed, a strange thing happened, I learned to tolerate… no wait, dare I say it? I learned to LOVE math. I know, I’m a nerd but hopefully I wear it well.
That brings us to my present circumstances. I have worked really, really hard. In fact, I’m going to toot my horn a bit because I’ve earned the right to do so through sheer force of will. I received 100 % on my college Calculus final. The department head notified me that I was only one of two students to do so and that getting that kind of grade on a college math final was a rare achievement. Go me! I had finally caught myself up to the point where I had all of the necessary prerequisites to take my first Physics and Engineering course. I should have started it this past semester but had to put it on hold for the unexpected surgery that I had in August. So I was excited when the realization hit that spring semester was fast approaching and, hopefully, in about 2 ½ weeks I’ll get the go ahead to ditch the crutches and wheelchair and be cleared to drive. I’ve worked really hard to get my body back in some semblance of order and return to “normal” life. Whatever that is…
I eagerly started looking on the college’s website for the spring schedule so that I could plan around the time when both of my boys were at school. That is when the trouble began. You can chalk these experiences up to whatever you believe in, the universe, God, fate etc. But I know that it was God’s Holy Spirit working through me providing guidance and direction. I pulled up the courses I would need and for some reason what I was reading didn’t make sense on the page.
Hum, this will be harder than I thought to explain. Let’s see…
I mean, I could read what was there, I could clearly see the times and places available but I just couldn’t wrap my mind around how to make it all work out. Sure, there were plenty of options but I felt confused and the longer I sat there trying to work it out, the more muddled I felt. I heard a little voice in my head that whispered, “Maybe school isn’t such a good idea right now.” “WAIT! No, what?” Ugh, you know when you hear that little inner voice and you’d really like to ignore it but you also understand that ignoring it would be a very bad idea. “Uh oh,” I thought. So I began to really search my heart for the feelings that were there.
My heart told me several things. In many ways I was dreading school because I wasn’t sure I still had the physical strength to spread myself so thin while trying to care for my little family. I felt a little tiny bit of relief when I pondered the option of not returning at this time. I panicked a little when I thought of everything that I wanted to do in order to feel better. For instance, swimming more often for my physical strength, taking better care of my boys and being more emotionally and physically present for them, and, most importantly, strengthening my relationship with God. All of these goals would certainly be attainable while going to school, but, in truth, my health would suffer even more if I continued to spread myself that thin. My heart ached because I really do love school and I would miss it, not to mention that math prerequisites don’t last forever, if I left it now it would be much harder to return down the road. “Sigh”
This led me to devote my thoughts and prayers to a more clear answer.
Like I hadn’t received one already.
I knew what the right thing to do was but I was stubbornly holding to the last vestiges of my hard work. After all, I have just three semesters of part-time school left before I achieve an Associate’s Degree. That might seem silly to those of you who have your Bachelor’s or Master’s. But, because I had worked so hard and then gone all the way back when I changed my mind to climb that hill again, this achievement seems monumental to me.
I also find myself fighting feelings of failure. I need to remind myself that I’m not “dropping out” of school; instead, I am choosing a different path for now. I’m still not sure what that means, I have no idea what is in store but I know that the Lord has something in mind for me that will help me to grow and progress in different ways. Besides, I can always go back later…
So there you have it. I know there will be those who will try to talk me into continuing and pushing through the end. I also know that there will be many who support my decision knowing the other battles I face on a daily basis.
The most important thing is that I know that, although this will be a hard sacrifice for me to make, I will be doing what God wants me to do. I wish I could understand why. I wish that my path was laid out in front of me to examine and control at will but, alas, life isn’t like that. We are often asked, or prompted, to make changes in life that might not make sense. It may seem that we must act on faith and faith alone. That is a scary place. But I’ve decided that it doesn’t have to be because I’m choosing to have faith that what God has in store for me is even more glorious and wonderful than any set of plans I could have imagined for myself.
I guess sometimes it is healthier to just throw in the towel. For me, learning to accept my limitations is an ongoing process that continues to prove painfully difficult. I hate that any such limitations exist. I don’t like surrendering my will but that is probably why Heavenly Father is allowing me to suffer with my current afflictions. I really need to learn to surrender my limitations, weaknesses and my will to him.
You still may see me practicing my calculus or reading a really technical astronomy and physics book in my spare time. I know; problems of a nerd-girl right? In the mean-time I’m going to take a leap of faith and do what feels right. I’m going to do it even though it doesn’t necessarily make sense. I’ll do it even though it hurts and I don’t really want to. But I’ll do it knowing that I’ve had the courage to do hard things with faith that there are better times to come.