“For as long as I remember, writing has been my voice when I felt mute.”
With those words, I began my graduate school application essay for Regent University a few weeks ago. I was a few days away from the deadline and wasn’t even sure I would get all of my documents in on time. I had only decided to apply to graduate school in October on a whim.
October was a very frustrating month for me. Every possible thing that could have gone wrong, went wrong for me. I was right in the middle of a product launch at work and spent early mornings in strategy meetings with my team and long days schmoozing with clients. I was also leading the Communications Team at church and working on several side projects. I was busy and burned out. What else is new, Yolande? Well, one by one, members of my Communications team decided to quit, all within the same week. They all sent their resignation letters via email and while some were very polite, others were not. I was shocked, stunned and hurt. What ensued were endless conversations about my failings as a leader, friend or both. I had been too busy to check in and make sure they were doing ok and now, for some, it was too late. As the week drew to a close, I received another email, this time from a friend, with similar sentiments about my team and my motives in gathering stories/testimonies. I felt like I had failed at the very thing that I felt called to do. I wanted to quit. It was also humbling to see and hear what people really thought of me.
It was at this moment that Romans 8:26 became very real to me. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Wordless groans. I had no words for the things that were happening around me. I was being accused of things that I’m sure I didn’t do. My character and motives were being questioned and I felt powerless. I started writing, first in my journal, prayers and petitions to God. Where my voice failed, my pen was steady and confident. I felt like David must have felt in writing the Psalms. Partly trying to vindicate myself from wrongdoing, partly blaming God for letting this happen and then finally repenting and giving honor to God for His grace and mercy towards me.
Writing was my therapy and I felt God healing me from the pain of the moment as I poured out my thoughts to Him. Then I began scheduling meetings with my team members and friends, finding solutions to the things that had gone wrong, finding healing for those relationships as well. I continued to write, I was on a roll at that point. All I wanted to do at that point was write and become a better writer. I felt prompted to look at Grad School applications for Communications. The obvious first choice was NYU and I started my application right away. Then I got to the question, “What other schools are you applying to?” I hadn’t even thought of another option! Hmmm…Ok so I quickly googled Master of Communications Degree programs and Regent University popped up! Wait… Regent is all the way in Virginia, right? I had considered applying a few years back but I wasn’t ready at that point to leave NY for Virginia Beach. It turns out, Regent has an online program specifically for Communications and Arts. Ok, maybe this could work.
It was all a blur from that point on. I went to the Regent University website and looked around a bit. Then, about two weeks later, I was reading my devotion in the morning and again felt prompted to go back to their website. This time, I requested more information about their Communications and Arts programs. That same day, I received a call from one of the Admissions Counselors at Regent. I was on the phone with this woman for at least 45 minutes and the best thing about it was that it ended in prayer. She prayed for me and my decision to apply to the Communications School, which at the time, I was going for Strategic Communications. After she finished praying, I felt compelled to look at the other tracks within the Communications school. It was as if “Journalism” had a huge bullseye sign on it, I kept coming back to it, over and over.
Back in October when I was questioned about my leadership and my motives when it came to writing and telling stories, my only defense was “This is what I have been called to do.” I felt it so deep down in my bones. I could not run away anymore. “But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” (Jeremiah 20:9)
I spent most of my Thanksgiving break working on my application and finished most of it by the December 1st deadline. A week later, I received a call from another admissions counselor, Kelli, who had read my essay. In it, I had mentioned my six month fellowship to Rwanda for Communications and Media, back in 2011. Kelli told me that she had always had a heart for Rwanda and wanted to talk to me more about that experience and my application. We spent an hour talking on the phone. Throughout that phone call, God kept confirming to me that this was his plan for my life. Every experience, every step of obedience, every prompting no matter how crazy it seems at the time, it all unfolds a part of His larger plan for our lives. There was not one thing that was wasted along the way. The things that seemed insignificant or trivial or frustrating at the time, they all had the purpose of propelling me into this moment – into my destiny.
“The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.” Abraham … Sarah … Isaac … Jacob … Joseph … Moses… Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets …“God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.” Hebrews 11
2014 has taught me that lesson. His plan is better than mine. I’m so thankful that He takes my mess, my failures and my shortcomings and makes it into something beautiful. My story isn’t my own, it’s a part of a larger story. Stories that need to be told, voices that have been mute for too long. I want to tell those stories.
Update: Today, I got my official acceptance letter to Regent University’s Master of Arts in Journalism Degree Program!!!! I even got a partial academic scholarship!! God. Is. Faithful!