I didn’t do better in middle school and high school. I got by, but I hated school and dealt with the boredom by acting up or sleeping through class. I went to public school most of my life. My mom took me out twice to try and help me do better academically, once to send me to private Christian school, and once to homeschool me.
I found that Christian school kids were mean and cliquey (no offense, guys) and homeschooling was not for me. While my mom would try to teach me, I would literally stand on my head. The truth is that the only thing I liked about school were my friends, the people I grew up with, so I went back to public school.
At 18, I didn’t know or care where I would go to college. I didn’t have good grades and I never took SAT’s or any other tests to get into college. My dad suggested a non-accredited Bible College that pretty much took anyone. Since I wanted to be a minister, I said, “Sure.” I applied the summer after I graduated from high school and it was the only school I applied to.
I slowly started to like school because I was studying what I was interested in – the Bible, ministry and Christian history. I didn’t have to do math, but I started writing real papers and I discovered I was a good writer. I graduated with an Associate’s and made mostly A’s & B’s.
For the first time in my life, I believed maybe I was smart and decided to go for a Bachelor’s degree. There were a couple of accredited colleges that would take my non-accredited courses, because my Bible school was respected by them.
I chose one and went. I struggled with the general ed classes (especially math), but my best friend there was a math genius and she helped me pass (and I cried and begged my teacher for mercy extra credit). I loved my creative writing class, and I actually loved getting my papers back with red corrections all over them. The constructive criticism made me a better writer.
As a senior, I took a church history class and went to Italy for ten days to “follow the footsteps of the Apostle Paul.” For the first time in my life, I loved school. I thought, maybe I could be a church history professor one day. I graduated with an accredited BS degree with a grade point average of 3.5.
From there I tried to get a job in ministry, but that didn’t work out, so I became a 7th grade teacher. Here I was, a girl who hated school most of her life, now a teacher. I was going to be the most exciting teacher that ever lived. I made school come alive for my class. I created games, treasure hunts, projects, trips, skits, and anything I could think of to make them have a better experience with school than I did.
I struggled to teach them math, grammar, spelling, and really most subjects, but they were so smart, they were teaching each other and me by the end of the year. I did help them become better Bible scholars, writers, historians and communicators, though; I will tell you that.
After one year of teaching, I decided to pursue a master’s degree. Since I didn’t seem to be able to get a ministry job due to being a woman, I would go to school to become a theology and church history professor. I got into a respected seminary and fell in love with academia even more. It was hard, but I worked day and night and wrote, wrote, wrote.
Although I was not a strong reader, I got better and better. I have never been diagnosed with ADHD, but I do struggle to focus on reading and even watching movies sometimes. But I can also become hyper-focused on things I care about. I cared about this. I was the first person in my family to ever earn a master’s degree and I graduated with a 3.7 GPA.
My twenties were rough in finding a job, but I believe that had mostly to do with my gender and the economy. I was also handed some tough cards in my twenties. I dealt with chronic illness that severely disrupted my life. My dreams were pretty much crushed. I sank into a deep depression and went from 135 lbs to 180 lbs. Maybe I was always a loser, after all. Perhaps God has forgotten about me.
It took years, but I slowly dug my way out of a pit of despair with the help of my mom and dad’s prayers and my husband’s endless love. I started to believe in myself again, little by little. My faith in God was restored a bit more each day. Can I really do all things through Christ who gives me strength, as my Sunday School teacher said?
I rose above it and I am still rising above it every day. Sometimes I still feel like the dumb kid in the class, but then I remember that I am an adjunct theology professor these days, who operates a successful blog and ministry, speaks at conferences, has been published, and advises teen girls and young women at my own online business.
I still have a chronic illness that I struggle to manage and often feel like the sick person that cannot commit to any sort of profound future, but then I look back from where I came from. God has turned all my weaknesses into tangible strengths. It is He within me, that makes me carry on. I cannot and will not be defeated.
I will move forward through the darkness, even when I can’t see what is next. I will be afraid, but I will not allow fear to control my life. I will feel insecure, but I will not permit insecurity to make myself too small or too puffed up. I will jump off the cliff, even when I can’t see the bottom. I will sometimes feel as if I am drowning, but I will keep my head above water. I will be arrogant about one thing, and that is my God’s ability to move mountains on my behalf.
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