Last weekend was one that was fairly emotional for me, as in, exciting, joyous, and filled with thankful reflection. I participated in my Master’s Degree graduation ceremony, and it was Mother’s Day weekend. Graduate school and mothering have been two of the hardest tasks that God has charged me with. This weekend, especially while traveling to Virginia for graduation, I had time to think about my successes and failures, my ups and downs, and my joys and sorrows as a student and a mother. Across time, many people weighed in on how they felt about my chosen actions, especially as a grad student.
Over the years, I have received different reactions from people, including disbelief, amazement, and admiration that I took on such a task as grad school. I’ve been told that it is unbelievable that I could complete another degree with my many less than favorable circumstances. Well, I admit. It was beyond difficult, and it took almost seven years to accomplish. Some people “encouraged” me to give up. Why? Because of my circumstances… “You need to focus on your four kids.” “You’re in a difficult relationship.” “You know how sick you’ve been.” “You know you are mentally and emotionally stressed.” Well, guess what. I refused to give up (despite all the “encouragement”). Why? Glad you asked. Well, I have three things that motivated me to keep striving.
First, I believed that I was doing this because God called me and gifted me to be a counselor. So, with my desire to please Him, I believed that I must continue to push through and to have faith in His plan for my life. Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV) says, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” I’m all for God prospering me and for having hope and a future! I learned that despite my circumstance, I have a God who will not only get me through but who will give me what I need to advance to the next level.
Second, my children were watching me. Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV) says “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Through my process, I often thought of my own desires for my children! I know that I want them to work at being great. I want them to go for their dreams. I want them to push through the trials and tests, the heartaches, the abuse, and the discomfort. I believe it is my job to demonstrate to them what I want for them. I kept in mind that my example is what they will follow, so I acted accordingly.
Lastly, I kept going because I needed to encourage myself. I believe that once you accomplish something, it builds momentum for you to do more. I needed to prove to myself that I could do it, that I had faith and strength to do whatever I strike out to do. I needed to see that I could finish what I started. I knew that there were lessons built into my journey that I had to learn. I had an internal motivation that refused to allow me to throw-in the towel. I needed that to build up my own broken, beaten, and hurt self. 1 Samuel 30:6 (ESV) says, “And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord.” You cannot depend on people to cheer you on and to push you toward your goals. At some point, you must dig deep inside yourself, muster up the strength, and cheer yourself on past the finish line.
So, today, I challenge you to:
- Find your motivations. Think of God’s plan for you. If you don’t know it, ask Him; He will show you. James 1:5 (NKJV) says, “If any of you lack wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
- Be an example for your children, your nieces and nephews, and your students.
- Be your own encourager. Find that internal motivation to go and get what you want out of life.
Peace and Love.