My church (Hillsong NYC) does this thing called “Four Minutes of Forced Fellowship” when a timer counts down four minutes. During this time you must find a stranger and have a usually awkward shouting contest that might lead to the other person finding out some interesting information about you and possibly even the start of a friendship (or at least a future “Hey there! Remember me from last week? Nice to see you again!”). I love FMFF. I’ve met some really great people over the past, well, almost year now. But tonight took the cake.
I started talking to the man in front of me. He was very friendly but then came the question, “So what do you do?” Now, I’ve never liked that question. I believe that people often make their judgements about you from your occupation before they attempt to get to know your personality. In my case, people tended to get intimidated when I told them that I studied Biology and had a job as a research assistant. However, now that I am no longer working and I’m just trying to figure out my next steps, the “what do you do?” question has the opposite effect and brings me the same displeasure.
Anyway, I then reciprocated the question and he told me that he worked in a cancer research hospital and center… one where I had fancied applying for a position. I told him this, he asked me a few questions about my future plans and my experience, and then he gave me his card as he told me of a position that opened up that I might be interested in.
Best FMFF experience ever.
You see, I’d hesitated applying to this job for months now. I kept making up excuses and looking at my shortcomings. If I actually do get this job, then it would probably propel me right into the career I’ve been toying with but that God clearly has plans for me to excel in.
My entire life has been based on decisions made in a “Well, sounds good to me” sort of way. I had heard about a certain high school and made up my mind immediately to go there. I got in. I had heard vaguely of a certain college in NY and I made up my mind to go there. I got in without having to apply anywhere else. I thought Biology is an interesting field so I’ll study it. That was the most difficult part of my journey but I made it through only semi-scathed. I thought that I should probably get a bit of experience in the field so I talked to a professor who had a lab. Got the job without having a formal interview and without even having to think about a resume. Now if you’re thinking that I’m just a smart person or that I have a lot of connections and this is why I’ve had these smooth transitions, you are completely wrong. I am not that smart. Because of that, I’ve had to work incredibly hard. But even hard work can only go so far. I could not have done any of these things if it wasn’t for God’s hand on my life and his plan at work through me. Not a single one of these accomplishments are my own. I came from nothing yet here I am with a B.S. from a Tier 1 university positioned in the most influential city in the United States.
Here’s my story. I can say that not many people know the extent of it.
I was born to impoverished, unmarried parents in Trinidad. When I was born my dad, a reformed womanizer and alcoholic whose past is a story of abuse and rejection, sat on the bed crying because he didn’t have a penny to take care of me. My mom’s family had practically disowned her for getting together with him. But God had a plan. We came to the U.S. when I was 18 months old. Since then my parents have experienced the most oppressive and discouraging circumstances that only other immigrants can imagine. They’ve been taken advantage of countless times and ripped off even more than that.
My family knows how to fight and never give up. I believe that steadfastness and faithfulness move the heart of God. Even though we weren’t Christians back then, he knew what would be accomplished through us in the future. He saw my dad as the hardest working man in a church that would reach thousands, helping to beautify it, telling others the story of his redemption. He saw my mom’s heart of a servant, ready to take up the cross at any cost, and ready to lay her life down for that of her fellow human being. And he saw me.
He sees you too. I know that sounds creepy to the cynic but it’s meant to sound reassuring. You see, he doesn’t see you the way you see yourself. He sees the potential in you, he sees the people you were meant to reach, the lives you are meant to change, the innovations you are meant to create, the impact you were meant to leave on society, etc. If you trust him through the rocky bits as well as the awesome bits of life, he’ll steer you with grace and favor.
Well, that was a lot longer and deeper than I expected this blog to be. It honestly took me about 2 days to finally finish it. I hope you enjoy it and find some truth in it. God bless. Have a great day.
I am officially done with Undergraduate academic work.
How do I feel?
It hasn’t been the best 4 years and I can’t say that I have the most school spirit. Actually, I don’t have any at all. I always went home every weekend. And when I wasn’t in class, I was either holed up in my room studying, doing something in the city, or going to church—not that that’s a bad thing. I certainly don’t feel deprived considering some of the favorite activities of my peers on this campus.
Still, I’ve always secretly envied the people that say, “College was the best 4 years of my life.” I thought that maybe I just wasn’t doing something right. Because, if I’m being completely honest, the time spent within this campus has probably been the most miserable experience of my 22 years of existence. That’s not to say that I haven’t enjoyed my time off-campus. Actually, those were probably the best times I’ve ever had in my life (so far).
These 4 years have tested me like no other and I have grown the most because of it. Maybe my misery was just growing pains. But I doubt it. I have learned the most about myself and about God and I can never regret that (not that college is something I regret at all). I’m glad that I’ve accomplished something but I know that I was meant to accomplish even greater things beyond what I could have done here. I’m just glad it’s over and I’m thankful for the opportunity I’ve had. I am actually part of the first generation of my family to attend college so it is kind of a big deal that I’m graduating. I have two cousins (two of the loveliest, most fantastic, beautiful, and hard-working women I know) who already have their Masters and I believe that one of them is even going for her PhD. They are inspirations.
What I am really and truly excited for is my life AFTER college. I’m not looking forward to the “freedom” of being out of school probably because I have enough older friends to know that there isn’t really much freedom beyond the walls of academia. I’m more excited about the prospect of another level to conquer. I believe there’s so much that I’m meant to do and the only way I can do it is by the grace of God. I’m excited to see what doors God opens up for me. He’s already given me a new community of people to “do life” with. It’s invigorating when you think of possibilities.
I guess what college has taught me (you know, other than Biology and English) is that if you can hold on to hope through the darkest of times and let go of the discouragement or frustration you feel in the moment, then your hope won’t be in vain.
So take heart. It gets better.