When I graduated from my credential program, I was ecstatic to say the least. It was a hard year and a financial strain because I was student teaching. During this time, I was learning so much but not yet receiving a paycheck. My husband and I lived in a small apartment and we owned one car. So getting to classes was hard although I was blessed to be in a program with a group of women that were amazing. Together, we helped one another through this program. One friend in the program gave me rides everyday. As each of us had a difficulty that came up, we all pitched in to help.
At the end of the program, when all our final projects and reports were done, we had a celebration party. Nothing too fancy, but memorable and heartfelt. It was Spring and the sun shined brightly with enough warmth to make even the Grinch smile from cheek to cheek. The excitement of new opportunities was in the air… as well as the smell of fresh flowers that were beginning to bloom. I remember shades of color, like pink, orange,and blue.
We met in a home which made the atmosphere cozy, comfortable, and sweet. There were muffins and pastries and a nice chicken dinner. We ate and talked about everything we had been through. We were all in agreement that we benefited so much from being a tight-knit group. We had done it together. And enjoyed the feeling of knowing that this journey had finally come to an end. Some of us had already signed teaching contracts for the Fall and some of us were still in the process. But the hardest part was done.
We did it! We were finally credentialed teachers!
At the end of the celebration, our supervising professor read us a book. I had never heard this book before, but I did know the author– Dr. Seuss. I had read “Green Eggs and Ham” as a kid along with several other classics like “The Cat in the Hat,” ” One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” and the infamous, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” The funny stories, bright beautiful illustrations and interesting characters kept me entertained for hours– and still do.
But this book held a title I had never heard before, “Oh the Places You’ll Go.” At first I thought this was a showcase of another wonderful children’s book that we could read to our kids.But this wasn’t the case. The beginning words of the book, “Congratulations today is your day you are off to new places far and away” spoke volumes to me because I was going to be starting a new journey.
As the book continued with its inspiring words I knew it wasn’t just a showpiece–it was intended for us. These next words, “You’re on your own. And you know what you know” where especially meaningful. We would all be going in our own directions. And although we were more than prepared to begin this new journey, it is always hard to leave the comfort of friends that you have had the support of for sometime.
Just as there are many pages and chapters in a book, there are many chapters in our lives that are made out of the choices that we make. We can choose are own life’s path, our careers, friends, places we see and things that we do. Our passions, the people and places in which we choose to spend our time–make up the many pages and chapters of our storybook. We are the authors to our life’s story.
As our Professor–mentor and friend–continued to read each page, she showed us the illustrations as well. I felt my heart skip a beat or two, and by the end I felt tears fall down on my cheeks. I was taken by surprise, I never would have thought a simple book by Dr. Seuss could make me have such an emotional reaction, but it did. And it was a sweet occasion. They were tears of joy. And aside from shedding some tears, I laughed a few times too.
It was very clear this book was intended for us–a perfect graduation day book filled with wisdom, motivation, and truth. Although predominantly a children’s author, the wisdom and well intended verses tell a tale of life’s highs and lows. Whatever our background, and whatever our journey, it is never so simple as a one straight path . We all have ups and downs. Seasons of blessings and times of great despair; and of course there are times that fall in-between there. We experience sadness and loneliness too.
As she continued to read the words, she came to the point in this true to life magical tale, that describes the times in our life where we will shine.. The words of wisdom were well versed ….
At the story progressed, I felt hopeful that these words would be true. That I would find success and “soar to high heights.” I felt excited and a bit nervous because we were all taking off on a new flight towards achieving our dreams. Soon we would be in a classroom filled with kids to teach. And we did want to succeed.
Flash forward several years– and yes– I have achieved some success. We have bought a house. I obtained a fulfilling teaching career. I have been on vacations a time or two. We have enjoyed the peace and serenity that life can bring through contentment and self-actualization. However, just as the next lines in the book describes, “Hang-ups and Bang-ups can happen to you.” I have experienced life’s inevitable failures too.
Life never offers us a guarantee that we will have smooth sailing along the way. We will all win and lose at times. And experiences both success and failure. And unfortunately for me for this period of time, I have had some bad luck. These verses describe my life to a “T.” The funny thing is I had no idea that anything bad was headed my way. As I get older, I realize that this is just the way life is, a car accident can happen in a moments notice, a sickness, a financial hardship, an end of a friendship or marriage.
Sometimes we are blindsided.
We never see it coming and we are not prepared to handle the situation. At first, we might do anything at all because–like this picture–we are just hanging there. As we watch from a distance everyone else’s life carry on and begin to wonder, “Why me,” “How did this happen?” or “Why didn’t I see this coming?” Then, so often we blame ourselves and then we may even blame others.
But the bible tells us in Matthew 5:45 that “He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised when things begin to go wrong because they happen to everyone. In fact in 1 Peter 4: 12-14 , we are told
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 1but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”
This verse speaks volumes to me because we are told not only will we have trials but we should rejoice and be exceedingly glad.
There are many stories in the Bible that show that God allows evil to rain on even though he considers righteous. Job is an example of a righteous man that endured hardship beyond imagine. He lost his wealth, children, and even his health . Furthermore, his friends who should have been be consoling him blamed him for his present misfortune. They said that God must be punishing him from some hidden sin. But this simple was not the case. I think the saddest part of Job’s story to me is that his friends and wife betrayed him.
Unknown to Job and his friends there was a battle, or a bet, in the spiritual world that was out of the sight and mind of Job. Because he was so righteous he was the target of these maladies–which is exactly the opposite of what his friends assumed. God chose Job to go through a trial because he was God’s best. God bragged about Job and said “There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1: 8 ).
Yet, Satan insisted that Job was only good to God because God had blessed him. So God allowed these awful inflictions on Job. Job persevered and even though his wife cursed God for all that had happened, he did not; he remained faithful. In the end, Job was blessed with double the possessions, wealth, and family that he previously had before the affliction. What a marvelous story to teach us to be faithful no matter what the circumstances.
I can learn from the story of Job. We don’t know why but we know who is in control. Trails are hard but they are necessary and bring value if you are faithful and true. And even when we fail we learn and grow stronger. It may not be in this lifetime but in eternity that the answer will be made known.
I’m not sure why I am going through hardship, but I do know that no matter how strong you are it still hurts. I’m grateful that during this time of trial I have a wonderful family and a few trustworthy friends that I can rely on. And with their strength, love, and encouragement when I am weak they help to pull me up. God is also by my side through this trial. One of my favorite verses is “If God is for me than who can be against me” (Romans 8:31). Knowing this truth I can continue to hope and pray and keep holding on…
As the wisdom from Dr. Seuss’s graduation book continues ….
This verse “You can get so confused and you’ll start in a race,” makes me laugh, because I have been running in circles and getting nowhere. I have asked questions where I am often met with adversity. The results are the same there are no current answers. The situation is out of my control and there is nothing in my power that I can do.
So after exhausting myself I too must surrender to this uncomfortable place… “The Waiting Place.”
The “Waiting Place” is exactly where I am right now. I have passed the point of knocking on doors that were never meant to open for me by calling others that are simply not prepared to give me a response.
This page in the storybook of my life is slowly turning into a chapter as the days increase, and I have yet to get the phone call, email, or snail mail that I have been so longing to hear. Although I have no control over how quickly people are moving on the other side of that phone…
What I can do is pray and do my best not to worry. The Bible gives us advice when it comes to useless worry and unrest. Philippians 4:6-8 says
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
It has taken me some time to do, but I have finally realized that this is what I must do–pray and trust God. Because I get it: The Waiting Place is exactly where God wants me to be at this time.
So now, I am trusting God’s timing; and I know that He is never early or late but shows up at exactly the right time and place. And everything that is going on behind the scenes– although I may not know–God is in control.
And so, I have been trying to stop fretting and checking my email twenty-five times a day. And instead I am keeping myself busy.
Now, I have more time now to read the Bible each morning with an enjoyable cup of coffee when I get up. I can exercise by walking around our nearby park. There are plenty of unfinished projects to be done around my house. There are books I can read. And errands that need to be run. Instead of just simple meals I know have the time to make a few dinners that are a little more special. And I have started to clean areas in my home I never knew needed cleaning because I was too busy to see. And as I began to fill my new to-do list with this new time that has been divinely given to me, I finally decide to change my outlook or mind to no longer see this as the Waiting Place.
Because I am the author to the story of my life , and instead of just waiting, fretting, and pacing, and trying to push through doors that I cannot go through; I have decided to make a place…a comfortable place to make my own song to dance too because…
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” -author unknown