my “on time”

September 14, 2017. That is the date printed on my diploma. The piece of paper reads “Bachelor of Science, Psychology.”  What it doesn’t display is a record of the sleepless nights, the thousands of typed words, or the count of mental breakdowns I experienced whilst earning that piece of paper.

September 14, 2017. One day before my 20th birthday.

  Photo by Jonah and Lindsay

Photo by Jonah and Lindsay

In these past several months, I've been reflecting on how I got to where I am today: 20 years old, undergrad completed, loving my jobs, involved in amazing ministries, applying for grad school, beginning to explore the dream job of my childhood (writing). Among other things. How did I get here?

When others hear about my accomplishments, the word “genius” tends to get thrown around. I'm not one, trust me (I had to spellcheck the word “genius”). I believe that my successes thus far can be attributed to the way I was raised, my personality, and a calling. God has used these three things in unbelievable ways to shape my life up to this point.

my upbringing

I was homeschooled in various capacities from first grade through high school. This worked extremely well for me, and I began to learn independently at a young age. I rarely felt the need for someone (mom, teacher, tutor, etc.) to walk me through every bit of the material I was learning. However, I did figure out that I can't always do it alone, and I learned to ask for help when necessary.

The independence that I developed throughout my childhood has been instrumental in my pursuit of a higher education.

After my sophomore year of high school, I determined that I had no desire to return for my junior year. So I didn’t. Instead, I took the California High School Proficiency Examination (basically, the California equivalent of a GED) and started earning college credits through a wonderful program called Unbound). I got credit for most of my general ed classes and even some of my major requirements by taking CLEP (College Level Examination Program) tests. I also took online courses from various places, and eventually transferred all of my earned credits to Liberty University, the school I graduated from.

My independence was never discouraged by my family. In fact, my mother has always been my greatest advocate, especially in regards to my education. (Thanks, mom! You’re the bee’s knees.) It was she who fostered independence in me from a young age. When I matured, it was her trust in me and complete support of my educational choices that allowed me to move forward so rapidly.

But she never pushed me further than I myself dared to explore.

my personality

My parents never expected too much from me—I was not forced to become driven or intrinsically motivated or committed to my education. These are characteristics that developed from my own personality. This is simply the way the Lord designed me. He knew the plans He had for me, and created me just so in order for me to walk in those plans.

For the Myers-Briggs fans in the room, I am an INFP (Introversion-iNtuition-Feeling-Perceiving)— a personality that is defined by a deep care for people, idealism, dedication, and passion. Learning new things is in itself motivating to me, but had education for the sake of education been my only driving force, I would never reach the finish line. I need to be passionate about the end goal in order to get there.

my calling

And what was/is my end goal? Pursuing a calling that was clearly spoken to me about five years ago. The Lord, with all of His thundering power, boomed from heaven that He has a plan for my life. He then proceeded to whisper to me, tenderly explaining that I was to help the helpless, love the unloved, and guide the aimless—just as He does for us. It is this direction from God that has focused my choices and continues to push me forward. He knows exactly how I operate, and has provided me with the passion I’ve needed to accomplish what I have thus far.

I’m not a genius.

I’m a victim of Divine interference.

The coolest part about all of this is that I am not the only one. I am not the only one who is called, I am not the only one who is pursuing a goal, I am not the only one who is running hard. To the fellow believer: He calls you, too. The Lord wants to use you for His purposes. He will use your past, your circumstance, and your personality to bring light to the world in a way that no one else can.

being “on time”

I say this so often: I am proud of my accomplishments because it is what was right for me.

The last thing I would want is for someone to look at the way I, or anyone else, is living and feel that “ahead” should become the norm. I use quotation marks around “ahead” because it is a poor use of comparison— and we know that comparison is the thief of joy (Theodore Roosevelt). What if graduating before my 20th birthday is not my “ahead” but my “on time”?

Please stop and ponder this.

It was doable for someone with my personality, my circumstances, my interests, my ability. It was doable for me. Had I waited longer to pursue a higher education, or get a job, or anything else, I am convinced that I would have been lagging behind on the timeline that was prepared for me.

What is your “on time”?

It may be related to education, ministry, a career, or a relationship… but many of us have areas in our lives that are not lining up with society’s “normal” timeline. Maybe you graduated college early, or never graduated at all. Maybe you are still unsure about the career you want to pursue. Maybe you have known your calling for years, but He keeps telling you not yet. Maybe you got married at 18 or are still single at 35.

Whatever your situation, there is freedom in God’s timing. When you are following Him, there is no “late” or “early”. There is only on His time.