Some ramblings, reflections & possibly a farewell

I’ve come to the realization lately that this blog will probably be collecting dust very soon and that perhaps I should just bid it farewell. And I think perhaps it’s just as well.

I am moving into a new season of my life, and while I by no means consider myself completely out of my “valley of Achor” just yet, I am in a much different place now than I was when I started this blog, and even if I somehow find time to continue to blog in the future, I’ll probably start another blog rather than contribute to this one. So this may very well be my last post on “Valley of Achor.”

So much has happened over the last few months that I won’t even attempt to go into a detailed narrative, but let’s just say that I’ve faced the biggest demons in my life, I’ve confronted my deepest source of pain, I’ve made some earth-shattering revelations to certain people, my faith has all but crumbled into the dust, and all this has happened in the midst of preparing for my transition to university this fall. I’ve been on a roller-coaster ride emotionally, some days hopeful and exuberant, other days despairing of life itself, and some days so stressed out and overwhelmed I’ve just wanted to curl up in my bed and avoid the challenges and mile-long-to-do-list facing me.

But I’ve survived, I’m still here, and by next month I’ll be living in a new city, with people I barely know, and facing two years of intense study at a prestigious university. I have a feeling the next two years will either make me or break me. I am simultaneously super excited and absolutely terrified. But I know I’m doing the right thing, no matter the outcome. I didn’t make it this far only to allow fear to dissuade me from my dreams.

So, as I step out on this next new phase of my life, into uncharted territory, I think I’ll bid this little blog, and the young woman I once was, farewell. I will never forget the dark places I have been in, and the pain I have endured, but I want to move on.

Although, I have come to realize, I shall probably carry my scars for the rest of my life. There will be no true and complete healing for me in this life. Some pain is never truly forgotten or overcome. Despite what all the health and wealth and prosperity people preach. I’ve been made even more keenly aware of my fragility due to a sudden and unexpected flare-up of my rheumatoid arthritis recently. I’ve been mostly in remission in recent years, so the flare-up really caught me off guard, but it also reminded me that pain will always be my friend, in one shape or another. I will never be able to escape pain. But physical pain I can handle. Even on days like last week where I was so stiff and in so much pain I could barely move. It’s emotional pain, it’s mental pain, it’s memories that can’t be erased, that hurt far worse. Those are the sources of pain that sear one’s soul, that leave an indelible mark on one’s spirit. And it’s those sources of pain that will always haunt me, and that I will always carry with me, no matter where I go or what I do in this life of mine.

But however challenging the next steps of my life may be, I’m determined to go forward. I cannot, will not, ever, ever go back to the dark places I’ve been in. I would rather be dead. My life, however fragile and bruised and battered, must make its mark in this world. I must make it mean something. So that none of my pain will be for naught.

Last night I felt my life meant something. I’ve been volunteering again this summer at a local church teaching an ESL class, and last night was my last class. I went to class expecting it to be the normal affair it usually is, although I regretted I couldn’t think of a way to reward or celebrate my students’ participation in the class. However, the students flipped the tables on me and totally surprised me by celebrating me as their teacher. Apparently they conspired to throw me a party. I knew something was up when I saw them bringing assorted items into class, like drinks and pizza boxes. But it wasn’t just the little party. There were also flowers, a sweet thank you card signed by all the students, a $25 gift card to Panera, and hugs and words of appreciation and “I’ll miss you, teacher”s from all the students. I could have cried. It was so touching, and reminded me that my life can be valuable, despite the pain, if I only use it to bless others.

So this is why I’m still here. Why I’m still fighting. Why, despite everything I’ve been through, and probably have yet to go through, I will do my best to persevere. To not give up. To keep staring down my darkest demons and my deepest fears. Come what may, I must go on. Because my life must not be lived in vain.

So, this may be farewell. Farewell to the Valley of Achor. I’m moving on. Both literally and figuratively. Perhaps a new blog will come along at some point, but for the foreseeable future, I’ll be too immersed in real life to wander the halls of the blogosphere.

Onward & upward

So I found out sooner than I expected. Not longer after writing the last post, I checked my e-mail, and discovered that I’d received an e-mail from my prospective university, informing me that the decisions had been posted. Officially, they weren’t due till tomorrow. But, for whatever reason, I got my pleasant surprise a bit early. And when I read the official acceptance letter, I shrieked with joy. I jumped up. I pumped my fists. I ran downstairs and shared the joyous news with my grandmother. I felt like a little kid who’d just been handed a shiny new toy, or the offer of an exciting adventure.

Really, I am on an adventure. And though I know the next couple years (I will enter as a junior in the fall) will be full of challenges, I know in the end they will be worth it. Just as the last few years have been challenging, but they have also been worth it. I didn’t take calculus or human biology or public speaking because I wanted to. I took them because I wanted to get to this point. And now I have.

So I’m super excited. I thank God for giving me this opportunity. And I hope I will do well and accomplish the goal I originally set out to accomplish a few years ago.

I’ve still got a lot of unresolved issues in other areas of my life, but in this area at least, I know where I’m headed. And that gives me something to look forward to.

Bittersweet

Bittersweet. That’s really the only way I can describe what I’m feeling right now. The realization hit me with full force this morning that by next week I’ll have no more classes, no more homework, no more tests…no more school for at least the next three months. And while part of me is relieved, a part of me hardly knows what to do with myself. I feel a bit sad, a bit lost. And I’m so pathetic I actually shed a few tears. I think I’ve become one of those strange people that actually likes being in school.

Of course, I’m beat. I’m exhausted. I’m glad, in some ways, that this past semester is nearly over. It has been pretty rough at times. A couple courses have given me many stressful, hair-pulling moments. Moments where I’ve been tempted to throw in the towel. But I’ve hung in there, and here I am at last, at the end. And looking back with very fond memories on those classes, classmates and professors that made this past semester worth even the frustrating bits. It has been a very intense, yet simultaneously very rewarding semester.

This semester has been rewarding mainly because two courses I took had wonderful professors, great classmates, and subjects I loved and excelled in. One professor especially–who taught my favorite class, Spanish 202–left a very positive impression on me. Some people are just cut out to be teachers, and this guy was one of them. Friendly, down-to-earth, approachable, and the type of professor who took personal interest in each one of his students. And yesterday, at our last class, he made my day when, after I handed him my final exam, he frankly and warmly wished me the best, gave me high praise on my grades, and told me he believed I would not only be accepted at the university I applied to, but would do very well there. This meant a lot to me, because, despite his genial nature, he wasn’t one who flattered or gave out compliments and praise indiscriminately. So I knew he meant every word he said. But I was touched even more when I later read a personal note he left on my final essay. He basically gave me more praise and encouragement, and told me how much he appreciated my “dedication” to his class. I have to honestly say I’ve never received such a note from a college professor before. I’ve received notes before, I’ve received commendation before, but not all rolled into one. So such a gesture really touched and encouraged me.

But that note simply added more “bittersweetness” to the end of this semester, and really, the end of my time at the community college. I’ve met some great people, even made a couple friends, and learned a lot over the last few years. And even though this last semester was the most stressful of them all, in some senses, I’ve enjoyed the relationships, discussions, interactions and intellectual stimulation it’s afforded me. And this is why, I think, I’ll miss being in school over the next few months. And why I hope, come tomorrow, that some certain news I’ve been waiting for will be affirmative, and not negative. For I’m only one day away from finding out if the next step of my academic journey will continue on in the fall.

So we’ll see. All I can say for sure at this point is that college has been good for me. I think I’ve walked away from the last few years with greater confidence in my abilities and hopefully better prepared for whatever the future holds. So I hope, and pray, my schooling will continue on into the fall, in a different city, at a four-year university. I confess that I won’t know what to do with myself if it doesn’t. Being in school has given me a greater purpose, a goal, something to keep me going amidst all the other difficult and painful things in my life.

Tomorrow awaits. My future awaits. But I am thankful for what I’ve been given over the last few years, and I will cherish especially the good memories of this past semester. It was rough. But it was also fun. And I learned a lot.