January 4, 2011

Grades In, School is Done

I got my final grades for my two courses at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, NY.  I was really pleased with the final remarks on my paper, and I was glad to be done with my first semester in graduate school.  I am a straight-A student (well, have been since San Jose State University 1990-1993).  I wasn't a good student at the Community College when I first attended school.  In fact, I barely graduated with my AA degree (GPA was 2.8).  I did graduate and I was able to enter SJSU six years later, but those poor grades haunted me throughout my time at the University.  And, to complicate matters, when I wanted to go on to graduate school, that GPA from Evergreen Valley Community College pulled my overall GPA out of the honors range, and kept me from being seriously considered by some fine schools in Northern California.

God's timing is perfect, though, and eighteen years later, I am a graduate student at Mercy College in NY.  I take my graduate English Literature courses online, and I hope to graduate in May of 2012.  Mercy is a small liberal arts school that specializes in education.  They were known as a teacher's college many years ago, but now have a fine reputation for the arts (specifically Theater Arts).  Carol Burnett, the famous comedian/actress, gave the school a scholarship for Theater Arts students.  It is a very good school, with caring professors, and a rigorous and strong academic record.

I would never have found Mercy College without the Lord's help.  I had been searching for online or hybrid graduate schools for about three years.  I felt the call on my life to pursue graduate school, but I was confused as to how I would attend (online or in person), how I would pay for a Master of Arts program, and which program I would actually choose to study.  My interests shifted over two decades and while I liked the idea of teaching college English courses, I didn't really know if that I what I was designed to do.  Add in the fact that teaching positions are not the easiest to come by, and my confusion was well-founded.  Why would the Lord send me into a graduate program, allow me to incur debt, and then have me study a program without my hope for a job?  Of course, I knew then as now, that whatever the course of study, the Lord would provide a job for me to do.  The Lord doesn't waste resources, and He never does anything short-sighted.  He always prepares you for the work He has for you to do, and nothing is left open, left undone, or left to speculation.  He knows what is what, and His will comes to pass every time.  Praise God for His Thoroughness -- He is SO GOOD to me.

One day, while I was browsing college campuses (for the umpteenth time), the Lord sent me to GradSchools.Org, an online database of graduate programs.  I had been to this website before, and found a couple schools of interest.  They didn't pan out for me, so I was a little disappointed when He sent me back over there again.  However, 'miracle of miracle' I entered my criteria and out came the link for Mercy College.  I went to their website, and read about their online English Literature program, and knew instantly that this was the school I was to attend.

At first, I was suspicious (isn't that always the case, LOL!) and I didn't have a very high opinion of Mercy College.  I thought they might be one of those private schools whereby they charge thousands of dollars for a mediocre degree (there are many out there, so beware).  But after I enrolled, was accepted to the program, and then started the financial aid process, I realized that Mercy was a very solid little school in the Northeast.  More time spent on their website, and then in class, developed a completely different view of this small school.  The professors are tough, and I mean tough.  The course work is non-ending.  I was sending in homework the same day I was submitting my final paper.  I had no breaks, no "take it easy" moments.  It was a grueling semester, and I am sure, indicative of the next four (until I graduate).

Working part-time at Macy's and going to school was tough on me.  I also had commitments to Chamber and my cello studies.  Furthermore, I had the uncertainty of my future looming over my head.  I didn't know if I would move out of my home or stay put.  I didn't know if my husband would leave us or remain here for some time.  I also had the pressure from family who were greatly concerned about my finances, and who were pressuring me to drop graduate school and focus on getting a good job.  The job never materialized (except for Macy's), and I am still looking for the "right" job.

The pressure to work has been difficult.  I want to work, and I have been willing to do jobs that are far outside my comfort zone.  This downturned economy hasn't really helped, but considering that the God of the Universe is on my side, even the economy cannot keep Him from placing me into the job of His choosing.  The issue, I believe, has been one of timing.  I focused on timing last year, and prayerfully considered "God's time."  Back then, I was more focused on not trying to make things happen in my time; but rather,  understanding that God's timing is not just about the hours on the clock.  In truth, God's timing far exceeds our 24 hour mindset.  When God speaks of His Time often He is saying that a certain thing will come to pass WHEN He is ready for it to do so.  This understanding of timing includes God's Will as well as His Provision.  So regardless of the time on our clock, if God is not ready (provisionally) to provide said thing or it is not part of His will (at present or in the future), the THING simply will not be.  Moreover, there is our part in God's timing too, and often that includes two things:  our attitude, and our willingness to do what God wants.  If all parts are in accordance, then the thing comes to pass.  If one aspect is missing, then we must wait while God puts everything into its proper order.

Waiting, therefore, consists of acknowledging that God's will and His provision must be in sync.  It also realizes that our attitude and willingness for the thing to materialize must be in accordance with His plan.  Once we are on board with His plan, then we find ourselves waiting for His will and provision to mesh together.  They will mesh together, this is for certain; but when that happens -- well, the only One who knows that is God, the Father. 

Waiting is difficult, and it is a drain at times.  It can be very frustrating too, especially if you don't really understand why you are waiting so long.  I was in this boat for many months, waiting for a job, and thinking that it was all about me.  My skills weren't right, my attitude towards the work wasn't willing enough, my resume didn't read correctly, and so on.  The economy was the thing I blamed, and over and over again, I said "its this economy.  Employers are not hiring now."  This was not totally true, because while some employers were not hiring, many were seeking employees (Phoenix alone has over 16,000 active jobs open).  Granted, not every position is one I am qualified to have; but the idea that there are "no jobs" and that "no one is hiring," is simply a false assumption.

In my case, the reason I didn't get a job last year, and the reason why I am still waiting for a job now is one of TIMING, God's TIMING.  You see, I have applied for a myriad of jobs, many of them good paying opportunities.  I was qualified educationally and experientially; but none of these jobs were the "one."  How do I know that?  Well, it really comes down to knowing what you are doing, and why you are doing it.  I wasn't fully understanding God's plan for my life.  Though I understood the details, the wherefores and such; I was not grasping the interconnectedness of my daily work with His kingdom work.  Over and over again, the Lord has said that my work (the job) would prepare me and train me for His work.  I said, "Yes, Lord, I understand;" but in truth, I didn't really understand at all.  I thought working at Apple would provide administrative or managerial training for me.  Yes, this would be true; but that wasn't the training God wanted for me.  I could already do that kind of work, and all I would be doing is racking up experience.  A good thing, mind you; but not exactly what the Lord wanted. 

No, in my case, the training I need was specifically focused for His Kingdom work; and therefore, it required a very specific type of job.  This job needed to prepare me in a way that it would benefit Him.  I would learn whatever skill I needed to learn, but God wanted me to learn a very specific type of skill.  I needed to do a type of work that would directly impact my graduate study, and lead me INTO His Kingdom work.  This type of job was crucial to my success, and this was the only job that would satisfy the Lord.  So I waited.  And, here I am still waiting.  I know it is to come, and I now understand what kind of work I am to do.  Now, I must wait for God to provide this job to me.  I cannot take any job, for the work must be particular and the opportunity must mesh with His will.  This is a God-ordained job, and the only person who can bring this kind of job to me is GOD.

My mind is clearly focused on His work, and I am ready to do the required job.  I need the door to swing open, and the offer to come (it will).  Once I am settled in this specific work, then I will begin my training with the Lord.  The job, BTW, doesn't have to be ministerial.  God can use secular jobs to prepare us for His work too.  The job I am seeking is secular, with a secular company.  It is the WORK that is critical, the type of WORK, and this is what I am seeking intently to find.

After I am hired, and I work at this job for a time, the Lord will move me where He needs me to go.  I am willing to relocate, and have blogged about that for the past two-three years.  Again, I thought the job and the place were what mattered most to the Lord, and while they do in one sense, they actually are less important than His will being done.  The place, should I relocate, would directly faciliate His will being done.  There are many details that go along with the place, but suffice it to say, the point here is my willingness and my attitude in regard to relocating.  I struggled greatly with this point, and for many months (almost a year), agonized over leaving my family, my church, and my home.  It wasn't until I grasped the concept of the JOB, that the PLACE made better sense to me.  I see how it meshes together with His will, and I take comfort in knowing that God will not move me anywhere that doesn't further His will in my life and prepare me for His Kingdom work.  It all goes together like "hand in glove," a perfect fit.  That is how God is, and how He works in our lives.  Everything He does fits perfectly together, and always, always is well-suited to His desire and intention for our life.  God is Good that way.  He is SO GOOD.

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