March 6, 2013 – 7:30 AM – Phone call from Mother Dearest:
“What are you doing?”
“Congratulations,” she continues reading, “on your admission to graduate study at the University of Southern California…”
“WHAT?” I jumped out of my bed, still unconscious, and started crying. Just the night before, I shed silent tears as I wrote in my journal:
Regardless of what happens with MPW, I love You and I trust You! My hard work was not in vain.
I meant those words with all of my heart. Little did I know that I had already been accepted into the program of my dreams. When I started college four years ago I had absolutely no intention of going to grad school. When I discovered that high school principals needed more than a B.A., however, I started shopping for education administration programs. I never imagined that I’d end up in a Professional Writing Program. How I even got to this moment is a testament of God’s divine order.
In my first semester back from London, life got real. I jumped back into campus life too soon, pacing far too fast and had a really hard time adjusting. It was finally time to start thinking about my future. After a late night anxiety attack, I decided to apply to the McNair Scholars Program, a prestigious research program that gives students a substantial lift into the ivory white tower. This was my ticket into grad school. My credentials weren’t impressive enough to get me in without it, or so I thought, and I needed a solid plan or I was going to drive myself crazy. The only problem was that the application was due a mere week after I decided to apply. I prayed for favor, sent the dreaded last minute emails for recommendation letters and by God’s grace, I GOT IN! It was crazy. $3,000 stipend, free housing, free GRE prep and my own research project the summer before my senior year! Sounds perfect, right?
A few months later, God told me to drop the program. But wait. Isn’t He the only reason I got in? Why would He possibly want me to drop it? This must be the devil. Why would I give up free housing and automatic acceptance into grad school? This doesn’t make any sense. Even as I type this I’m reminded of all the anxiety I felt the night I heard God tell me to give it all up. He hadn’t stuttered. I knew exactly what He was calling me to do, but for whatever reason I wrestled with the decision for MONTHS.
Out of desperation, I did the 21-day Daniel Fast. And it was NO. JOKE. I’ve never been a fan of fasting; I love food too much and always thought it was irrational to starve yourself in order to hear from God until I found myself in this sticky situation. I lost at least 5 pounds and straight up suffered for 3 weeks. I prayed like crazy, had redundant conversations with my friends and sought God’s face like never before. On the very last day, God told me to drop the program…again. Before that moment I had been blaming my apprehension on a lack of clarity. Was God really telling me to do this? I needed to be sure…and I finally was. Truth be told, I was afraid of God’s “good and perfect” will.
Think about it: In my mind, my whole future was riding on this program. If I didn’t do it, I wouldn’t get into grad school, which meant I couldn’t be a high school principal, which would disqualify me from fulfilling my purpose: closing the educational achievement gap. This was heavy stuff. Not to mention the external pressures – friends and family who didn’t understand why I was rejecting such an amazing opportunity. My mom thought I was crazy and assumed I was hearing things. God wouldn’t tell you to drop such a good program. He’s a God of completion…Right. Eventually, God exposed the real motives behind my reluctance: my dependency on academic success. In order to take me to new levels, He needed me to prove that I valued Him more than my resume.
After hearing a sermon on high-risk obedience via the story of Abraham, I sent my resignation email to McNair while still on a spiritual high. (I knew it would never get sent otherwise.) I had no idea what God had planned for my last undergraduate summer, let alone my life, but I knew that staying in the program meant compromising something major. Turns out I was right. It was over that summer that Makiah-isms grew to be the life changing, scripture slangin’ power blog that it is today. I spent quality time with my family, dug deep into the Word, exercised diligence, explored Los Angeles and vacationed in Hawaii all on no income. I ended up draining my savings account and abusing my brother’s Metro tap card, but it was easily the best summer of my life.
The season I almost didn’t surrender to God is the reason why I fell in love with writing and even considered applying to the USC MPW program. If I had disobeyed God I would still be hell bent on obtaining a Master of Education degree and would’ve completely overlooked the writing talents He’s entrusted to me. There is no denying the grace and favor that was over my decision to apply to this grad program. I only had a month to cram for the GRE that I ended up MURDERING (ALL glory to God) and submitted a rather rough creative sample only minutes before the deadline. But GOD!
I still can’t believe that I got in and I have no idea how I’m going to pay for it, but that’s none of my concern. God used this journey to teach me a valuable lesson about hard work and contentment. I proved to myself that I could do anything with God on my side and struggled through months of uncertainty only to realize that true joy lies in Him, not in grad school acceptances and job offers. Because of my willingness to completely surrender my old life, God allowed me to find my new one. (Matt. 10:39) And let me tell you, I have never felt more like myself than I do right now.
To me, MPW is much more than a degree. It is a space of cultivation and creativity that will further propel me into God’s radical calling over my life. The titles no longer matter. My only desire is to do the work He’s set out for me in excellence and love. THANK YOU to everyone who helped me get here. And to those presently waiting on God to show Himself strong, know that He already has.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.