What Are You Going To Do With That?
This is a question that I was asked more times than I could count while I was in high school and college. What is your major? What are you going to do with that degree? What kind of job can you get with that degree? Who would want to study politics? Do you just read a bunch of novels to get an English degree? Can you do anything besides teach? How do those majors fit together? Why did you choose that school? What are you going to do with the rest of your life?
More often than not, the answer to that well-intentioned (or sometimes even ill-intentioned!) question of “What are you going to do with that?” was “I don’t know.”
I knew that I wanted to be a teacher, and I knew the subjects in which I excelled and I liked, but I couldn’t have told you most days how I would fit all of it together. I was a triple major in college, and that raised many eyebrows. To some, I appeared to be an overachiever, and to others, I appeared directionless and chaotic. Many thought that my majors didn’t make sense together. Even more questioned why I even had more than one major at all. In weak moments, I started to believe the doubts. Maybe I was taking on too much. Maybe I wasn’t focused enough. Maybe I didn’t know how to fit it all together. Maybe it simply didn’t fit together at all.
The wonderful thing about all of those questions is that even when I didn’t have an answer, God did. God knew that my somewhat impulsive decision to major in political science would be useful one day when I would write my Master’s thesis on presidential political communication. God knew that even though I would become an English teacher straight out of college, the teacher I would replace taught one section of American History, and my history degree would make me the perfect candidate. God knew that my decision to study American Sign Language just because I was interested would mean that I was the only person at my food service job who knew ASL and therefore could connect with our Deaf customers. God knew that my decision to study creative writing would not only fuel personal hobbies but help me connect with students who share similar interests. God knew that when I chose to take a break from the high school classroom to become a full-time graduate student at USF and teach first-year composition classes that not only would I better understand what high school students need to know going into college, but I would also finish my degree a semester earlier, perfectly lining up with an opening at LCS, my dream job.
I could go on and on. Even when I thought that there was no plan, God had the perfect plan in place. Many of our high school students, especially our seniors, are faced with many of these same questions. They are inundated with questions about their future plans: what college they will choose, what major they will pick, what job they will pursue, what direction their life will take. The questions can be overwhelming, and while we may believe with our minds that God has a plan for our lives, it’s difficult to believe that in our hearts when we feel confused and overwhelmed.
Whenever I tell people now about how some questioned my decisions in college or how indecisive I felt at times, they usually respond with “But what you did makes perfect sense.” Isn’t it funny how clear that is now? In hindsight, it does make perfect sense. It’s so obvious that sometimes I wonder how I ever thought things could go differently, but when you’re in the middle of the fog, it’s so hard to see the end of the road.
What’s wonderful about LCS is that it offers encouragement in all of these areas. We have a faculty of diverse backgrounds, each with a unique story to tell about how God shaped the direction of their life. They encourage our students to pursue many interests and foster their abilities. We have our wonderful school families who chose LCS because they know the value it has in our students’ lives.
If my parents hadn’t made the tremendous decision to enroll me at LCS for high school, I often wonder if my life would have taken the same direction because so much of my worldview was shaped by what I learned here. LCS is where I learned that I could pursue multiple interests. LCS is where I studied so many subjects at once. LCS is where I earned college credits that enabled me to finish three majors in four years. LCS is where I gained a competitive education that enabled me to succeed in college. LCS is where I met teachers and administrators who tirelessly encouraged me and supported me when I needed it most. LCS is where I truly started to believe that God had a plan for my life, and that that was a good thing.
Sometimes the idea of God having a plan for your life feels a little restrictive: there is a path that you don’t control and must find or your life will be a failure, but that isn’t it at all. The year I graduated from LCS, Dr. Sligh gave each of the graduates a copy of Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung which encourages people to commit to living for God’s glory in every aspect of their lives, whatever that may be. It liberates people from the oppressive feeling that God’s will is somehow totalitarian when it’s nothing of the sort. I can’t speak to what my classmates thought of the book, but I know that I felt like Dr. Sligh had read my mind. At the time, I was very afraid of doing the “wrong” thing or picking the “wrong” path for my life, and it paralyzed me in some ways. I needed someone to tell me that I was okay, that having multiple interests was okay, and that God having a plan for my life didn’t mean that I was restricted but rather the opposite: that I could experience freedom in knowing that my life was in His hands.
As our students approach the end of their time here at LCS, they need that encouragement more than ever. At a time when everything feels so uncertain and undecided, the certainty of God should be a comfort. More than once in college, I felt like I just wanted someone to tell me what to do. I didn’t always want the responsibility of choosing the direction of my entire life. I wanted someone who knew exactly what I should do or where I would end up to make the decisions. Isn’t it wonderful to know that God was that Someone all along?
One day, after I had graduated from college, I was cleaning out some old boxes that I had lying around. I ran across my copy of Just Do Something and a note from Dr. Sligh that had accompanied it. I remembered the note: Dr. Sligh had met with each of us individually prior to graduation to discuss our future plans. I remember feeling like I had babbled incoherently because I had yet to decide on a direction. I read the note for the first time since graduation and was shocked to find that Dr. Sligh had listed all three of my majors – political science, history, and English – and had encouraged me in my future studies in all three fields. I hadn’t decided on any of those three the day that I spoke with Dr. Sligh. In fact, I didn’t decide on them until years after that. When I asked Dr. Sligh about it, he told me that I had articulated my interests very clearly; he hadn’t thought I seemed confused at all.
In some way, God’s plan for my life had already been revealed to me. Even if I hadn’t known it or felt like it then, I was already on God’s path for my life. What a wonderful comfort to know that my life was in His hands long before I ever recognized it. If you or your students are feeling as if life is directionless or you don’t know how you’re possibly supposed to know God’s plan for your life, I hope this is an encouragement to you. Even when we don’t realize it, there is always a plan that has been put together by Someone much more qualified than we are, and what a tremendous blessing that is.