If you have been a part of my life in the last five years, you know that graduate school has been a significant, yet seemingly elusive, goal of mine. I love going to school, learning, and being a student. I love the goal of graduation and the journey of classes together. I’m a nerd, to the core, who loves to read and study and even write papers, so school is definitely right up my alley. As a senior at Azusa Pacific four years ago, approaching graduation from my Bachelor’s Degree program, I was already thinking about graduate school. It made the most sense for me to continue doing what I loved, especially since I wasn’t sure exactly what vocational ministry would look like for me. So I applied to a few school programs, missed a deadline on my number one choice (APU) and decided on my second choice (Claremont). I was supposed to start that fall, but at the last moment before orientation started, I got really sick and spent a LOT of time thinking and realized I really wasn’t sold on the program and withdrew from the acceptance. I was sure that I wasn’t supposed to go there, but I didn’t know what that meant about where I was supposed to go.
A year passed, it’s 2010, and I decide to try out the school idea again. I’ve decided maybe I should try another route outside of the ministry programs I’d been focusing on, and went with my next choice (La Verne). But sure as shootin’, when the time came around, I knew I was choosing a program that was the educational equivalent of folding my arms and pouting towards God because things weren’t going the way I wanted them to, so I decided not to do it.
Another year passed, its 2011, and I decide I’ll try APU again, with a specific full-tuition scholarship as my goal for a program. Turns out, this scholarship had just that year changed its requirements in such a way that I couldn’t pretend to be qualified for it in good conscience. Another one bites the dust. I’m starting to wonder if grad school is just not in the cards for me.
Another year passed, it’s 2012 and I am back to the place I’ve been at over and over again, telling God daily how much I want to be in school for so many reasons, admitting that it is a deep desire of my heart to continue my education, and hearing nothing from Him in response. I talk to a few wise friends, one of whom suggests broadening my pursuits to a few different schools and wondering whether God will direct me that way if I give Him some more options. So I start researching counseling programs at Christian colleges throughout California. I notice APU, BIOLA, Cal Lutheran, Concordia, Point Loma, Cal Baptist, Fuller, and Pepperdine. All have great counseling programs with faith integration pieces. I make mental notes about different schools:
“APU is the most convenient and I might eventually get a tuition discount”
“Pepperdine is practically ON the beach”
“Cal Baptist has a counseling ministry program”
“Cal Lutheran is super close to my parents’ house”
“BIOLA has a great seminary program”
“Fuller is where so many of my mentors have attended”
All these thoughts are running through my head as I leave for work the next morning. It’s the middle of January. I’m praying, talking to God about these options, wondering if I could really see myself starting any of these programs, considering what my parents will think of my trying this all again, asking God for a sign.
And then, He answered.
I wish I could say it was a voice from the sky. That would be really cool. But that’s not what happened. Have you ever seen the movie “Bruce Almighty”? Remember the scene with the signs? It was like that. (If you’ve never seen the movie, youtube “Bruce Almighty Sign” scene and watch it, it’s great.
For me, in that one January day, I was completely overwhelmed and inundated with CALIFORNIA BAPTIST UNIVERSITY stuff. I can’t even list it all here, but it included being contacted by a student who I met once in Northern California a year before and who wanted to share about her experience in undergrad at Cal Baptist that day, a preacher on the radio at the precise moment I turned on my car, and even a random advertisement on Facebook that just so happened to give me a code to apply online to Cal Baptist for free! It was cra-zy.
Then, a whirlwind of an application process later, I find myself in the midst of a drastically different stage of life, newly single and finally beginning a grad school program. Fast-forward from that May, when I started, to now, February, and I’m looking forward to graduation in December, and I could not possibly be any happier with this program. It is NOTHING that I expected and yet EVERYTHING that I wanted. It has shocked me with its deep well of biblical teaching, its deep concern for the church and for people, and blessed me abundantly with the professors and classmates of such integrity and joy. I truly think this program was created just for me. It blends everything I love about the church, scripture, and helping people, and I have learned so much that my brain is constantly running to keep up. In short, I am perfectly content and don’t really want it to ever be over, short of the student loans I am amassing.
That is the story of my grad school adventure. I am completely obsessed with this program, and I will talk about it any chance I get. And as I have heard myself talking about it and being so excited, I noticed a parallel in my ambition, and this will be the conclusion to this post, and to Relationship Month on this blog.
With grad school, every part of this journey for me in the last few years was purposeful. I felt rejected and aimless at times. I was uncertain and unclear for several years. I tried lots of different avenues that I thought up myself, and nothing worked. I asked for advice and received some wise and some foolish. Everyone seemed to have an opinion about it, including me. But what it all came down to was that God had a perfect plan.
This description is not only true of my academic pursuits – it is also true of my relationships.
In my relationships, every part of this journey for me in the last few years was purposeful. I felt rejected and aimless at times. I was uncertain and unclear for several years. I tried lots of different avenues that I thought up myself, and nothing worked. I asked for advice and received some wise and some foolish. Everyone seemed to have an opinion about it, including me. But what it all came down to was that God had a perfect plan.
Now, I am basking in the joys of God’s perfect plan for me academically. He brought me to a perfect program, one that is challenging and stretching, but also full of joy and excitement. One where I feel accepted and well-placed, but am also pushed to learn and grow. In the same way, I hope that waiting will bring me to a relationship that fits me as perfectly as this program. One that is challenging and stretching, but also full of joy and excitement. One where I feel accepted and well-placed, but am also pushed to learn and grow.