Sunday, September 16, 2012

thirty days of thirty years: twenty-two

Year twenty-two, age twenty-one, last semester at Mizzou and first semester of life: September 2003-2004.

For my twenty-first birthday my dad and brother came to Columbia to take me out to dinner. I did not even have a drink on that day because we as Young Life leaders signed an agreement that we would not drink in public, to avoid misunderstandings with high school students. Like I have said before, I have pretty much always taken commitments seriously, so I didn't drink that day. I could have had a glass of wine or something at home but it didn't turn out to be that big of a deal for me. I think I just love birthdays for birthdays' sake, so drinking wasn't going to make it or break it for me. 

That fall was my last semester at Mizzou. Ever since that rough second year, I had not skipped one more class and I improved my GPA in just six days a week. After that year and the academic probation, I realized that I was fully capable of succeeding in school but there was another factor at play: my heart and my priorities. Sure, getting a degree was important but I was also in college to learn about life and being an adult and finding my purpose. All this is to say that I decided to take a practical approach to both succeeding in school and being true to myself. I decided to take one day of rest every week to set school work aside and pursue some other things that gave me life, all for the sake of trusting that God would work everything out for good. 

Sunday turned out to be my day, not because it is more holy than the other days but because that was always a really social and playful day for me. I went to this church that I loved and helped out with the senior high group in the mornings. I had time to catch lunch with friends or play ultimate frisbee, take a nap or watch a movie before Young Life leadership in the evening. After Sundays, I had enough rest for my soul to hit it hard on Mondays. 

It's funny because the few times I tried to study or write a paper or do something else to prepare for Monday on Sunday, something always came up to prevent that. Like this one time I sat down at my computer to work and one of my roommates came knocking on my door in search of a friend. I knew that being a friend was more important to me than school work, so I put it aside until the next day and everything worked out just fine. And then when it was time for me to deliver my capstone research during this last semester, I emailed my professor and told him that I would really prefer to go on Saturday. I told him that it wasn't a huge deal, that it wasn't a religious obligation or anything, but it was a personal conviction that I had not done any school work on Sunday since sophomore year and if all things were equal, I would really prefer to go on Saturday. Well, I didn't ever get an email back from him and that was okay by me because the day was chosen by luck of the draw and I figured what would be, would be. But when my professor came to me first, with this hat full of little pieces of paper that said either Saturday or Sunday, he leaned in and said, "we'll work it out." So I reached my hand in and pulled out a little scrap that said, "Saturday." 

When it was time for my capstone symposium my dad came into town because I invited him to come watch, even though it would be boring. I had pulled several long nights in preparation for my presentation and I was starting to get sick. Dad arrived on Friday and I apologized for not being a very good hostess, but I wanted to take every minute I could to prepare. I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning and the few hours of sleep I did get were interrupted by thoughts of ferrous sulfate.

There was a dance that night for Campus Crusade, which a few of my roommates attended, so Megan and her boyfriend came home especially late and when he headed home the whole house was dark. My dad was sleeping on the couch but he apparently got up in the middle of the night for a snack. As Jeremy was tip-toeing out of our kitchen he was startled by my dad who was sitting about six inches off the ground, on the bottom rung of our foot-stool next to the wall, eating a taco in the dark and wearing nothing but his tighty-whities. As the story goes, they exchanged a "hey," and Jeremy went on his way.

The next day I delivered my presentation and Dad taped the whole thing with his camcorder. I was told that he took it home and had my aunt and uncle watch me go on about the effects of iron supplementation on muscle fatigability, which I was also told was very boring. But he was one proud Papa.

I graduated in December with a B.S. in Nutrition and Fitness. My whole family came and my sister, Suzanne, and I posed for pictures in front of some of Mizzou's iconic structures and bonded over our shared alma mater.

After Christmas I went back to live in the Chat on Paris Road for another semester while I figured out what I was going to do next. It's funny because I always knew what I was going to do next, until then. I always knew that high school came after middle school and college came after high school, but no one told me what happened after college. I had a hard time about this for a while and then one day my mentor, Kelley, told me to ask myself this one question: What would you do with your life if you weren't afraid. I though about it until our next meeting and I figured that, if I weren't afraid, I'd move to Colorado.

I had been interviewing for jobs in Nutrition throughout that semester and I kept finding that I wanted to be rejected. I didn't want to just get some job and get stuck in a career and end up looking back on my life, wondering what happened. Then one day, after I knew the answer to that critical question, I basically said screw it and I started looking for work in Colorado. That's when I came across the year-long internship at Young Life's Frontier Ranch.

I applied and had two phone interviews and the process was almost over until Brett Wingo, who was giving my second interview, said he would like to stray from his written questions for a minute. He said he sensed the Holy Spirit leading him to ask me some things and he brought up some possible areas of concern about my readiness for the program. I answered vulnerably and after we hung up I felt like there was a giant mirror in front of me. Then I had this dream where I was in the program but we had to take a test. I didn't know any of the answers and I had to turn it in blank. The reality is that I felt completely unprepared to do the internship and I found myself, again, hoping I would be rejected.

In the meantime, my roommate Megan Crowley and I took a spring break road trip. During this year I had figured out that Megan was my best friend. She and I were probably as opposite as could be, but we got very close and I trusted her like you can only trust a bestie. Anyway, one day Megan told me it was a tragedy that I was twenty-one and had never seen the ocean, so she said she was going to take me. We went from Missouri to Arizona to California and up the coast, then back through Utah and Colorado and home again. We called that our Gloriously Wasteful Spring Break Road Trip.

A few weeks later I got a phone call accepting me into the Year Long Intern Program at Frontier Ranch. I didn't know if I would take it but then one day my brother said, "I think if you do it, you won't regret it. But if you don't do it, you might regret it." And I realized that of all the excuses I was giving, the only real reason that I didn't want to do it was because of fear. I decided then and there that I did not want to be the kind of person who let fear dictate her choices, so I accepted. 

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