When I was growing up, I was a naughty and very active child. Despite my energy, I did not really have any close friends. Back then, I dreamed of one day going to a prestigious university, like my parents, and getting the best grades possible. I probably thought, unconsciously, that if I made it to a prestigious and a good university, I would then be able to get a job that would pay me a lot of money, and thus I would win friends and influence.
Indeed, I worked very hard in school and got decent grades. However, I really didn’t have passion for the content of what I studied; I just wanted to do well to please my parents and also to be “the –girl-who-worked-hard-and-got-the-best-grades.” I wanted to be respected and valued. In retrospect, getting good grades at school became a sort of idol for me. I worshipped the god of achievement, and without it, I reasoned that I was worthless.
Then, when I was sixteen years old, I struggled through several classes. I no longer got the grades I wanted or needed. I was even in danger of failing a class. One of my teachers even said in so many words that he didn’t believe I would ever amount to much in this life, probably partly due to the fact I wasn’t doing so well in his class. I also lacked peer support. In fact, no one in my class dared to counter what that teacher said to me. I also I felt my family could not relate to the turmoil inside me, as they seemed to be living a different life. In fact, in a journal entry from April 1999, I had written, “I wish I could be more […] effervescent (lively). I feel dead without being physically killed. I hope I don’t die emotionally, but I am dying. If I could only find that zest, that greatness life is supposed to hold. But where is it, at least in me?” I was so depressed that I wanted an escape, maybe to even end my life.
However, several months later, God saved me from that. Fast forward a few years later, I went to college, but not at a prestigious university which I had dreamed. After I graduated, I tried to look for work in my field of study, but to no avail.
After that, I finally found a part-time job in retail. There, I learned many customer service skills and other people skills I needed to succeed. I did well there, but after a while, I felt God calling me to somewhere else—a place where I never thought I’d end up. It was during that time, that God was preparing me for a new life, where He would give me more than I could have ever dreamed.
I was so excited when I got an interview at one of the local bookstores near where I lived! I had always dreamed of working in a bookstore! I loved books, and the workers there seemed nice. However, the day of the interview, I quickly found out that I wasn’t the right fit. At this point, I didn’t think I would get another job opportunity any time soon. The search went on.
Then, one, cold wintry day on February 25, 2016, I went with my mom to the store I now work to buy a few things. What I did not know was that trip would change my life forever.
I asked the HR representative the status of my resume, and after that she offered me to interview at 1 pm. Since I didn’t have adequate time to prepare or change into more formal attire, my mom and I ate lunch at the mall nearby, and then I went back to the store to get interviewed. When I got interviewed, I was so nervous and stuttering over my words, that I thought surely they wouldn’t accept me. To my surprise, I got a job offer! I waited until the next day to accept, after I sought counsel from my family. On March 10, I officially started at my current job.
Meanwhile, many people were leaving my now-former church. I loved that church, but inside there were so many changes that it rocked the congregation. About half of the congregation left or were in the process of leaving. At about the same period of time, my brother told my parents and me that he was going to go to school in Texas to get his Master’s degree. What I didn’t know then was my brother was going to live there permanently.
I felt, except for my new job, that my dreams were going to be shattered all over again. I would either have to accept the changes at my now-former church or find somewhere different to worship. Not going to church wasn’t even an option for me. I would also have to adjust to life without some of the support of my brother.
My brother left for Texas in August 2016. The day he left, the house felt hollow and quiet. The basement that used to be full of my brother’s stuff was now almost bare, but habitable again. My dad went with my brother to help him move. My mom and I remained at home. I felt numb and solemn that day. My heart felt like there was something missing—the void where my brother’s physical presence radiated my life.
Then, in mid-October, I said goodbye to the church that I had been attending for about ten years. It was very hard, as I had established so many friendships there, and these people were like a second family to me. Before I left to visit a church nearby, I was in tears, as I said goodbye to some of the congregants.
However, there was a very bright spot, in the midst of all the goodbyes, a month before I left my now-former church.
In September, I was working the swing shift, and one of my managers, Hope* was closing with me. She was complimenting me about my performance that day. Since I was still part-time, I told her, “I am thinking of becoming full-time. However, Chris*, my manager, said I should wait a while. I was wondering how long I should wait.” Then, Hope replied, “You shouldn’t have to wait. You deserve full-time.” Later on, or the next day, she put me in for full-time. Later, Chris also approved my full- time status. I was ecstatic! Because of all the challenges that I had to face, I never dreamed I would ever get a full time job in my life!
A month later, after I had left my former church, I visited another church. It had many more people than the one I had previously visited. A friendly couple greeted me and I sat by them. Even the pastors were friendly. The sermon that day was very thought-provoking and relatable to what I was going through in my life. I didn’t know yet if this was going to be my new home church, but I liked their genuineness and their devotion to the Word of God, so I kept going. In August of the next year, I officially became a member of my current church. Through my church, I have learned how to have an engaging quiet time with God, how to view life more positively and differently than most of the rest of the world, and how to forgive people who have hurt you deeply.
God’s Perfect Plan
No, I never got the six figure salary I had dreamed of, nor did I get into a prestigious college. However, I have been blessed with more than I could have ever dreamed. Through my church family and people at work, I have gained a strong support system. Also, I am still in touch with several people from my old church, who I still consider good friends, even though they live very far away from where I am now. Through the tough situations I find myself in at work, God has used those to strengthen and shape my character into His. Through church, I continue to train to be able to share the love and hope that I found in life through God and His gracious plans for me. Yes, I still have bad days, but overall, I have found more joy and satisfaction during these past two years, than at any other time in my life. God has certainly blessed me with more than I could ever dream!
*=names have been changed for privacy reasons