My first born, Salem, began her college adventure on Saturday. I have to tell you, as some of you mamas already know, this whole season of packing and preparing has stirred my heart on so many levels. I feel like a kaleidoscope of emotions. Turn the wheel ever so slightly and my emotional mosaic shifts into another beautiful picture of memories, regrets, sadness, excitement, pride, and hope.
I find myself remembering the smallest details about her childhood.
I find myself grading myself as a mom over the last 18 years.
I find myself recalling my own teen years, and college years.
I find myself missing her in the oddest of ways.
Walking in her empty room, still takes my breath away. (Yes, I smell her pillow.) But there is, deeper than all these feelings, an overwhelming sense of joy and gratefulness.
God is so big. So kind. So amazingly faithful. He will continue to be that. To her. And To me.
Believe it or not, I didn’t cry as we drove off. We didn’t understand it necessarily, but we were ready. All of us. And there was a very real peace that passes understanding.
Before the big day, God laid on my heart to capture some of the pearls He had given me. I kept getting a holy ping of “have I told Salem _____ yet”? It would wake me up at night.
These deposits, these pearls of wisdom, are aptly named since pearls are something very beautiful created out of great anguish and agitation. They had come at a high price. And although most teens get tired of hearing “one more thing” from their parents, I wrote her letters anyway. Smile. But then, I felt compelled to share with you the modified versions. His pearls are for us all.
The first Pearl was about our gifts poured out on the feet of Jesus in the same way the woman poured out her best from the alabaster box.
The second pearl is about Pressure.
When I was in college I was broke. And alone. And eager to please an incredible professor. I am not sure which of these factors clouded my judgment. Maybe it was the combination of all three. But I took on the formidable role of the editor of the yearbook, the editor of the newspaper, taking full time classes and working at least 30 hours to keep my tuition discount. Don’t be impressed. The story doesn’t have a happy ending.
I learned a lot during that season. I also cried and cussed and failed. A lot. But enduring this pressure changed me in really good ways that I might not have discovered otherwise.
1. I learned I had a enough courage to attempt more than I could handle. That audacious willingness, what I now call faith, prepared me to attempt a lot of things outside of my comfort zone. My experience opened up a door so that I was willing to go after bigger, scarier goals once I got out of college.
2. I learned not knowing how to do something was not a reason to decline. Big dreams are fulfilled by people who try. Really hard. My skill set exploded during this time because I had to complete the tasks. One way or another. I didn’t know how to do it when I started, but I sure knew how to do it once it was all over.
3. I learned how to not quit when the pressure is great. I needed the money on all fronts. So that naturally prevented me from backing down when it got very tough. I still use the muscle I learned in that season.
4. I learned why I imploded before it was all over. Hitting the proverbial wall showed me a lot about my own self sabotage and my own rejection issues. I didn’t know how to rest. Or ask for help. So I got sick. And behind. And rebuked by the professor I was so eager to please. This failure taught me how to get back up, reassess and do it better next time.
5. I learned to know the Why of a thing more than the How. I needed the money, I wanted the praise from my professor. I wanted to prove to others I could do more than they thought I could. People kept telling me it was too much. Instead of listening to reason, I perceived it as criticism or rejection. So I had to prove them wrong. This is a terrible Why.
I am very careful about my Why’s now. I will attempt a lot of crazy stuff, yet the crazy factor is most likely connected to hearing from God.
In the end, all the obligations were completed. Not perfectly as I had hoped. The newspaper got an award and the yearbook was printed three months late. I graduated with a very kind letter of recommendation from my professor and I paid for my college expenses.
I didn’t know God in this season. So I didn’t know Him to be a comforter, a source of wisdom and even energy like I do now. However, because He makes “all things work together for our good,” I know it was His holy squeeze that made me a better person.
Pressure is a beautiful thing in the hands of a loving God. Pressure shows our weakness, but it also shows our strength. We never know how strong we are until it is tested. Pressure is a a great test of our resolve and character and gut drive.
You can do more than you think.
Make sure you have a solid God-centered Why.
Learn to rest, and ask for help.
And failing doesn’t mean game over. Just learn the lesson and do it again.
More pearls to come.