- Academic Departments
- Et al. Journal
- Volume VI: In My Own Words 2016/2017
- Game Changer
The thing I remember the most was that it was purple. Purple construction paper clumsily stapled to one or two sheets of that special lined paper they gave to you when you were young. The kind with the extra thick black lines that made the background seem impossibly white. This was "final copy" paper, so I strived to tame my unruly fourth grade handwriting as I copied my story onto it. It was short, one or two paragraphs, but it contained a small part of what I would come to call my testimony. Normally, reading anything in front of the class would have boosted my heart rate to hummingbird level, but this wasn't just some wrinkled and written on page in a text book. This was something I'd written myself. This talked about my relationship with God, and how my life had changed since knowing Him. This was personal. Despite all that, my nerves were relatively calm when my turn to read came. As I walked up to the front of the room, I didn't think of this as a turning point in my life. With no idea how the next two minutes would affect me, I began to read...
"I did my project on neonatology." I was once again in front of the class, this time a couple of years later. I forced myself to briefly scan the bored faces of my seventh grade classmates before focusing my attention on the wall opposite of me. "Neonatology is the study of newborns." As I turned my gaze back onto the paper I was holding, I couldn't help but smile. The assignment had been simple enough. We just had to research a field of science and write about it. In doing so, I had not only found a project topic, I had discovered what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I could almost hear my future clicking into place like a thousand puzzle pieces. OSU, medical school, then working as a neonatologist at the OSU hospital. I had a sense of peace knowing that this is what I wanted. This was right.
Is this right? I had been walking around the Ohio State campus for the better part of the day. It was practically empty this late in May, and of the few students we saw, most were taking pictures in their new crimson cap and gowns. The buildings were nice, the grounds beautiful, and the atmosphere pleasant. It was just like I remembered it being on our eighth grade field trip three years before. But why do I feel so uneasy? The entire experience just seemed so big. Almost too big. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't picture myself going to school here in a little more than a year. Well, I could picture it, but it wasn't pretty. In my mind's eye all I could see was me struggling to commute without panicking, find my classes, and act like the adult I was expected to be. A sense of loneliness started to overcome me. Why did I feel like I just...wasn't ready? This was what I wanted, right? As we walked back to the car I prayed silently to myself...
God please tell me what to do. A couple months later I sat in a small, stuffy cabin, legs crossed, on the bottom bunk closest to the door. This was my second year at the Island, a christian camp run by the extensive organization known as Word of Life. By this time, I was used to the hard wooden bunk beds and walls covered in sharpied mementos from years of previous campers. What I wasn't used to was this feeling that seemed to linger within me. The feeling that God wanted me to do something more with my life than what I had planned. I sighed and looked out my small grimy window that never seemed to close all the way. I could almost see past the army of trees, down toward Schroon Lake. The Bible Institute sat just on the other side. Our supply of counselors always came from there, after having attended it for a year. I felt drawn towards the idea of attending the Bible Institute, but simultaneously rejected it for its inability to fit into the future I had always imagined for myself. I knew that if I went, I would only go for one of the two years offered, but that still meant a year away from home, a year off of math, English, science, everything. When I went to "real" college, would I be able to keep up? How complicated would applying for OSU and scholarships get? I could feel my heartbeat getting faster as all of my unanswered questions plagued my mind. I looked around at the inhabitants of the other bunks, all of them quietly doing their devotions. I was thankful for this mandatory thirty minutes of absolute quiet. It gave me time to think. Although, I was beginning to suspect I needed to replace a little more of my thinking and stressing with prayer. I knew I wanted to do God's will, but what exactly that was was still unclear. I looked back down at my devotion journal and absentmindedly studied the light blue and green streaks I'd been calling cursive. I had gone back and forth between OSU and WOL for the past three days, switching sides every hour or so. Well, if I'm considering this, I should probably try to make a more informed decision. Over the next day and a half I asked all three of my camp counselors about Word of Life separately. "I want to do what God wants, but I don't really know what that is, and I'm just really stressing about it," I almost had to shout in order to be heard over the conversations of 200 other people in the dining hall where me and my counselor sat. She paused for a second, stirring her iced coffee absentmindedly. "Think of it this way," she said, "You may never use some of the stuff you learn in college, but the things you learn at Word of Life will be applicable in every part of your life for the rest of your life." For the rest of the week I kept that in the back of my mind. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. By the end of the week I had finally decided that I wanted...
"..to go to the Bible Institute for a year." I met my sister's eyes for a brief second before turning my gaze back to the twisting road. I expected her to look confused or shocked, but she seemed completely neutral in her slouched posture and blank stare. "Then do it." She acted like it was the most obvious thing in the world. "But how am I supposed to tell mom and dad? They never expected me to change my entire college game plan practically overnight. Especially not this close to graduation. This doesn't even have anything to do with my future career. I know they won't disapprove, be they won't exactly be thrilled. I guess the best I can hope for is apathy." I spoke fast, my words tumbling over one another like they always did when I was especially nervous. "Who cares what they think?" she responded, "Do whatever you want to do." As she turned her attention back to finding a song she liked on my phone, I checked my speed and readjusted my grip on the steering wheel, knowing I tended to lose focus when I was stressed. I sighed. Her words were not exactly inspiring, but she did have a point. Now the only thing I dreaded was having to explain my decision to everyone in my life, probably at least twice. "The thing is, when I first decided that I was going to Word of Life for sure, I felt excited. That was the first time I had been excited about the idea of college in months." I added quietly. She didn't respond, still scrolling through my music with her thumb. Her calm indifference comforted me somewhat. This wasn't that big a deal, was it? Sure, I was practically throwing away everything I'd planned for years, but this wasn't about me. This was about God and His plan. Suddenly, Jeremiah 29:11 popped into my head. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." I smiled a little to myself. If this was God's plan, then I would do my best to welcome it.