This past weekend I reached the goal I’ve been striving for since fall of 2009—graduating from Benedictine College with a Bachelor of Arts degree. This moment was extremely surreal for me—at the same moment it felt like I’ve been waiting my whole life to graduate and that I was a freshman again, just waiting to have a college experience.
Sitting in that gymnasium, trying to stop my hands from shaking and sweating, I thought back to who I was as a freshman, and I couldn’t help but laugh. I entered BC the same way I left it, terrified out of my mind, but ready to step into a world unknown, however, that version of myself is no longer a mirror image of who I am today, and for that I am extremely thankful.
Freshman year I had dreams of greatness…well, limited greatness, I should say. My greatness then could be defined in a stereotypical sentence of college success: get good grades, get involved in everything possible on campus, study abroad, finish in four years with a double major, find a job that sets me on track for my dream career, get married, have kids. Sounds pretty simple, right?
This was the path I KNEW I was supposed to take when I entered college. Everything was set in motion to follow that path of greatness I invented for myself, but I left out a simple, yet vital, detail in my plans: God.
This was MY plan, this was MY life, and this was how it was going to happen.
I remember Christmas break of my freshman year, a family friend was asking about college and I told him all about how great it was and what I was going to do in my next four years. When I was done he laughed and said, “Maddie makes plans and God laughs.”
At the time I thought that was such a jerk thing to say, how dare he tell me my dreams aren’t going to happen! But now I realize he wasn’t trying to crush my dreams, he was just trying to remind me who really holds my life in His hands.
I did not achieve all the things in my goals freshman year, and that’s okay. Not achieving those goals does not mean I failed–it means I found different dreams–dreams that were actually meant for me.
“We’re all different people all through our lives”
I’ve changed all through my life and I’ve been a different person in many sections of my life. Some of those sections I’m glad I never have to repeat and some I wish had lasted longer than they did. But all these sections, good or bad, have formed me into the person I am today.
All of those sections have given me something that I have carried on into the next section. I have to always remember who I was in the previous versions of myself, because I was that person for a reason, whether it was wrong or right, and unless I understand that reason and remember my actions, I will never be able to improve upon my last section and work toward the best-version-of-myself.
The quote above comes from the BBC show “Doctor Who” and as the good Doctor always does, he says it best again when he says:
“Life is a pile of good things and bad things.
The good things don’t always soften the bad things,
but vise versa,
the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things,
or make them unimportant.”
The version of me today is still a dreamer of greatness, but my vision has changed a bit. I know now my life does not follow my “path of greatness” but God’s path of greatness for me. I still believe I can do extraordinary things. I still believe that I will make an impact on this world. Now, however, these beliefs have a different origin. I believe all these things because I know God has created my life like a painter creates a masterpiece, every brush stroke has a purpose and that purpose many not be revealed until the masterpiece is finished.
The masterpiece is being painted every day, I just have to have faith that His steady hand will not let me down. If I have this faith, believe me, the finished product, His masterpiece for me, will be breathtaking. It will be greater than anything I could have ever dreamed.