Note: I have to warn you, this post is quite long and emotional. But if you’re willing to read up until the last word, I pray that you be blessed as well. 🙂
April 2013 was the month I was supposed to finally bid a chapter in my life goodbye. It was supposed to be the month to march up the stage and finally hand my parents my diploma after four painstaking years of college. It was supposed to be the month when finally, after 16 years of going to school, I will reap the fruits of my labor and move on with my life. But on April 2013, I wasn’t able to graduate. And the rest, they say, is history.
I know, I know, a lot of people got disappointed with the news that my team (Pete, Johan and I) was not able to finish our thesis on time, resulting to us being left behind while the rest went on to graduate. I would be a hypocrite if I say I didn’t get disappointed with myself and the fact that I will not be joining my batchmates in the graduation ceremony. I wouldn’t go on discussing every detail of the reason why we weren’t able to finish our thesis because I’ve gotten so tired of repeating it on and on for the past months to people who ask why we were left behind. All I can say is that it wasn’t really easy – it was beyond difficult – plus the fact that we got distracted with a few things and the struggle to learn the programming language we were supposed to use for it. I admit the number of blames we’ve been given but not ALL simply because we know where we made our mistakes along the way.
Two months before graduation, we got the news that we were not marching. The first weeks were difficult. I was in denial, my teammates too, of course. I was blinded by the pain the certain twist of events caused me and I resulted to fronting I was okay when in fact I was not. That stage of denial did not only come from me, but the people I expected to be there during the lowest moment of my college life started to turn their backs on me (or that’s what I thought). I asked in prayer, “Were our efforts not enough?” and before I knew it, I was able to answer myself – I lacked faith. You see, for someone who has succeeded from elementary up until high school, not graduating on time seemed to me like, uhm, how do I put this in words? Oh, yeah, a large fatal blow.
Suddenly, everything became a blur. I was too stubborn to admit that we made a lot of mistakes. I was half-heartedly telling others I was okay, but I was struggling so hard. I tried to pray day and night for the Lord to grant me the acceptance I need to go on and motivate myself to finish our thesis before the next term ends and not wallow in depression because of the unfortunate event. I was seeing it as a punishment or a chastisement of some sort. The preceding weeks came by so fast and we all lost the drive to continue. We were downtrodden and we just couldn’t work properly.
But how did I get through? I’m telling this story based from my experience and my perspective because my teammates had their own way of
coping up with it and we really did not talk about it with each other. It was in the middle of April, during Music Camp, that I was able to really reflect on what happened and why it was happening. I asked God for forgiveness from all the boasting I did the months before – I humbled down to Him in prayer and confessed every ill-feeling I had and I cried out to Him to help me understand why it had to happen. I admitted I slacked off with my Christian duties and responsibilities and I was more than willing to make up to Him. That prayer time eased the burden, but the ordeal wasn’t really over.
I tried to be really productive – work on our thesis, be more active in church and continue to be involved in my organization although I wasn’t officially enrolled anymore. So many things transpired from May up until October that it would take me more than hours to retell it all. There were times that I really wanted to speed up the progress of our thesis if I could because I was starting to feel like a bum at home. So I grabbed every opportunity (speaking engagement, an event organized by our organization, and thesis meetings) to go out and keep myself busy. It was hard on my part to explain to people why I wasn’t employed yet during the first months, but slowly and surely, God answered my prayers. There were job offers lining up but I had to turn it down because I knew this time what my priority was. We needed to focus. Our team just didn’t want to re-enroll for the next semester anymore. It would be too much.
For the past months, I thought and asked myself what could be the possible reasons why I had to endure all these. You might call me crazy for saying that God planned this for me but I know I believe it because His Word says He plans out everything for our own good (Romans 8:28). For five months, I came up with a short list:
- I wasn’t really prepared for work. I didn’t have it all figured out, you know, what job I really wanted, where I should work. Some people have it all laid out even before they enter college, but mine’s just a different story.
- I needed more time to practice for our concert. Had I been able to graduate on time and be accepted in a job, I could have probably not fulfilled my duties in our string ensemble and rondalla group.
- Most important thing, I needed to strengthen my relationship with God. He was humbling me. I started out really good last year, but as our thesis ate up all our time and I was so indulged with our organization’s activities, I slacked off a bit during the last months of 2012. There’s no sense in denying because I admit every fault and mistake I’ve done.
- I needed time to think things through and try to work on not only our thesis but myself as well. Aside from our thesis, there were other problems I had to face that made me realize what certain traits I needed to change. It was a self-internalization of some sort. I needed to mature.
With these realizations in mind, little by little, I felt God talking to me. My constant fellowship with Him (through my morning and night devotions, Sunday School, Worship and Gospel Hour sermons, prayertime, etc.) paved the way for key verses I used as weapons for my constant battle. These verses were very helpful as they were assurances that God had it all planned out. He was working things out for my good. Let me share them with you:
- And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 (NASB) Romans 8:28 helped me trust more that the delay happened for my own good. When He says ALL THINGS, by that He means ALL THINGS. And I believe that everything happened for the reason that He was doing it for my own good. We can never understand God’s way because He is perfect. But He gives us grace so sufficient for us to accept it and understand in due time.
- But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33 (NASB) Getting right with God first eventually resulted to good things. The progress may have been slow, but He added it to us.
- Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NASB) I am proud to say this testing has turned me into a prayer warrior. I learned to talk to Him more frequently, I learned to write Him letters as if I would really send them to Him, I learned that my constant prayer to Him gave me more strength.
- And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake ; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NASB) I learned to believe with all my heart that when God gives something, it’s because He trusts us enough that we can get through that certain situation. His grace is enough for us to carry on.
- I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13 (KJV) This short verse has been one of my favorites since I was a child. Back then, all I thought was that it was easy to memorize. It was only while growing up that I learned what it really means and how important it is that I be reminded that there is nothing I can’t do with Christ as my strength.
- Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NASB) I remember well that this verse was first shared to me by a good friend. I may have just passed by it through my Bible Reading, but two years ago, someone shared it to me and it hasn’t left my mind since then.
- “For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NASB) This verse really made me cry one night I was reading through Jeremiah.
Not only did God work through His Word. I found songs on the internet which aided in keeping my spirits up like A Future and A Hope, I Know the Plans, He Gives Me Peace, Rejoice in the Lord, Don’t be Afraid and I Will Keep My Eyes On You. Familiar songs like Break Down the High Place, My God is Near, Trust His Word, His Way is Perfect (two different songs by The Wilds and Matt Herbster), and When God is Silent were of great comfort, too. Books such as God is There in the Tough Times, Simplify your Spiritual Life and 60 Days in the Word Devotions of Comfort and Hope also shed some light and added to the encouragement.
We saw our system progress from what was a total mess. We were all enthralled with whatever development we had every week and month that passed. Finally, there were positive changes and working processes. With the changes we thought were some things big, there were still errors to fix and bugs to tick away in our system. Just when we thought we were almost there, a few unexpected conflicts and problems occurred. It was a hot and cold, up and down, high and low situation. But we kept hoping and praying. And I was so motivated by my hope that God will eventually give this to us.
For my birthday, I prayed for one thing. Yes, there were items I wanted to have as gifts, but to finish our thesis was the only request I lifted up to God in prayer. And I can’t thank Him enough for granting it. Before my birthday (October), we were able to comply with all the needed requirements and we just had to secure the completion form and have our manuscript bound. November revolved around polishing our manuscript and just last week, Pete sent me the photo of our hardbound thesis. After almost a year of working on our thesis, THIS IS IT. God has been so faithful and He was able to answer our prayers before 2013 ended. Right now, we only need to accomplish our clearances so that we could get our Official Transcript of Records as soon as it is available. If you’ll ask me if I have plans of still marching, yes, I still have. I want my parents to experience it for the second time (my sister’s graduation, the first). I owe them at least that.
Aside from giving back all praises and thanksgiving to God, I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who gave their love, trust, patience and support all throughout this journey.
First of all, my family, Dada, Mum and Ting who were the main witnesses to what I went through. My shock absorbers and catchers of tantrums. I know I was never the perfect daughter and sister, but you love me despite my imperfections. I’ll always be the baby of the family (even though Tutty feels she has usurped my throne haha).
My churchmates and Christian friends, my GGBC family (special mention to Maan and Kuya Sep for always following up), most of all to Pastor Jun and his family, and Christian friends from other churches (Kuya Ronald, Ate Nikki, Albert, Dabs, Lael, Jemimah and the others) who continued to pray for me throughout the months.
The Redillas Family, who gave me so much trust and belief in my potentials as a student. I owe you my college education. Sorry for the disappointment, but we tried our best to finish it. 🙂 Bhe, thank you for everything. You know Nanay owes you so much.
My friends, (I won’t go naming you guys one by one so as to avoid any “tampo” hahaha) both highschool and college friends, my blockmates, who never failed to check up on our team and encouraged us to their utmost ability. Most of all, to my BU UNESCO, CS-CSC and Buklod family who never failed to make me laugh and smile, who never failed to always believe in me. You guys were always at the receiving end of my mood swings and tantrums.
My professors, who taught us important things in and out of our field, who gave us countless chances to defend our thesis and who were patient with us throughout everything.
I’m sharing what I’ve been through, how I got through, and what keeps me going up until now because I want to share how the Lord has done great wonders in me and through me. It would be very unselfish of me to keep to myself all the good things God has done. During the process, I realized how much the Lord has worked in me and through me and by His grace alone was I able to confidently turn the weakness into a strength. I know not everyone will respond positively to this claim, but I’ve felt His work, His patience, His grace, and His love, more than anything else during the past months.
This post does not mean to tell you that it’s very much okay to not graduate on time. This does not also encourage you to slack off on your responsibilities as a student and as a Christian. I’m telling you, should I be given a chance to go back to where we started doing wrong, I would undo it. I would motivate myself and my team to work harder than we thought we already did. I have friends who are graduating and I always encourage them to work on their thesis, strive harder, study at their best. This does not also promote the claim that “it’s okay to fail at some point because God still loves me”, although I’ve been emphasizing how God planned it all to work out. Each one of us has a different story. God has different plans for different people. It just so happened that mine turned out this way. This post is meant to encourage you if ever you’re in the same situation. This post is meant for me to share how God has worked wonderfully in my life when I thought He was silent. And I pray He’ll continue to work in me and through me as I move on to the next chapter of my life.
To others, this might seem as a story of bitterness, depression and most of all failure. But to me, this is the story of my success. And the credit is not mine to take. It’s all His. *cue in Victory in Jesus here*