YOUNG AND DETERMINED.
Proudly standing in front of countless eager parents, I gleefully flashed my kindergarten graduation award for ‘determination.’ Though unsure about how to pronounce all the syllables of the word, I was confident about at least one thing — that I had guts.
For years, I held on to this achievement, bookmarking it in the back of my mind. And for a while, it sustained me during many hard moments, like when I managed to pass AP Physics or get through my dad’s deployments.
However, at 17, I came to understand that there are some situations in life when ‘determination’ just doesn’t cut it.
I’m talking about the kinds of situations that kick you in the butt or nudge you to consider your very human limitations. For me, one of those moments left me crying on my bedroom floor; a flood of inexplicable tears streaming down my face.
Just 3 hours earlier, as I’d bid my close friend goodbye after school, I’d been cheesin’ hard. I was doing my best to compensate for the deep secret I’d been hiding in all of our conversations (that I had only a little money for college). Unfortunately, behind my gleeful Facebook status about my admission to Florida’s top university was the hard reality that I had a pretty steep bill to pay.
You see, unlike many of my peers who’d shared similar statuses, I knew that it would take a series of (literal) miracles to pay for school. Sitting on my bedroom floor that afternoon, I wasn’t sure it was possible.
So, once I got the acceptance, I figured it was time to kick in my determination and to begin hard charging. I reasoned that if I worked hard enough, that I could create my own kind of miracle.
A LESSON IN PATIENCE AND HUMILITY.
Every day after school, I applied for numerous scholarships, hammering away at my laptop in the midst of standardized testing season and afternoon poetry club meetings. However, by April, none of my strivings had produced any fruit. In fact, I faced rejection from some of the scholarships I felt most confident about.
In those quiet moments of sorrow, I felt a nagging need to surrender and pray. While I didn’t have the strongest relationship with God at the time, I did remember a few key things about my good, good Father — like how He promises us that He’ll never leave us (Isaiah 41:10), and how He shows us amazing grace (Hebrews 4:16).
In the midst of my grief, I also knew that no one else could truly understand my deep fears and desperation as much as He could. So, hands clasped tightly, and humility in my heart, I had a real deep conversation with the Man upstairs.
Then, I waited (with about the patience and grace of Job in Job 16). LOL.
And within a few weeks, a series breakthroughs came through.
First, I found out that a local leadership program was offering 5 scholarships to my cohort. With about a 10% chance of securing the scholarship, I was awarded it. Later that week, I also learned about another generous scholarship offered through my father’s job. The odds of that scholarship were also not in my favor — in fact, over 400 teens applied! But, by the grace of God, I secured the scholarship, which helped me to fund four years of college. Lastly, within a week of graduation, I secured my first part-time job — which though challenging, was truly a blessing in disguise.
GOD IS WITH YOU.
I decided to share this story with the girl who feels stressed out, hopeless, and/or shaken. Maybe you’ve lost hope in God because those around you seem to have it all together — while you feel empty-handed. Or, maybe you’ve been working hard for a long time, yet still don’t see fruit from your efforts.
Whatever the case may be, I just want to encourage you to remain hopeful that God can and will provide for you during this tough season (Ephesians 3:20). As I learned during that time, sometimes after we’ve done all that we could do, it’s necessary to surrender and let God fight our battles for us (Zechariah 4:6).
So, today, I encourage you. Keep your chin up, keep smilin’ and rest easy knowing that your Father is watching over you (Psalms 62:5). You don’t have to do this alone.
Written by: Alexis T. Brown