To the Graduate Trying to Discern God's Will

Dear Graduate,

I remember being you. I remember the excitement of starting a new chapter in life full of promise and opportunity. I also remember the uncertainty of choosing a path and the almost paralyzing fear of choosing the wrong one.

It’s OK to not have it all figured out. In fact, you likely won’t ever have it all figured out. But He knows what He’s doing, and He can be trusted.

My personal journey has had lots of unexpected twists and turns.

When I started college at Auburn, I was majoring in chemical engineering and expecting a lucrative career my parents would brag about to their friends. Unfortunately, I hated chemistry lab. I didn’t just dislike it a little. I hated it. I also learned through an intro course that there wasn’t really any part of chemical engineering that excited me. It simply sounded impressive. That was all.

Twist.

The one part of chemistry that I enjoyed was solving the equations. I had liked math since 3rd grade, so I changed my major with the tentative plan of teaching high school. It sounded a lot less impressive, but in my mind, a lot more pleasant.

Right before graduating and heading into a 5th year master’s in education program, one of my math professors suggested grad school. Teaching at Auburn sounded a lot more fun than teaching at Hartselle High School, so I decided to go that route. The professor suggested three schools: Dartmouth, the University of Maryland, and Georgia Tech. All else being equal, I didn’t want to move very far away, so I applied to Georgia Tech and was accepted.

Turn.

Grad school was rough. I mean frequent-tears-of-frustration-and-confusion rough. I have a deep crease between my eyebrows from two years of consternation. I graduated from Auburn. I survived Georgia Tech. Plans of pursuing a PhD were quickly abandoned, and I was thrilled to finish that master’s degree.

However, at Georgia Tech I got the chance to teach some college classes, and I loved that! I also ended up falling in love with my husband. That was a REALLY twisty story that you can read here.

Turns out, finding a job as a mathematician is quite difficult, even with a master’s degree. Everyone’s impressed with the sound of that degree, but no one knows what it actually qualifies you to do. It’s the History Degree of the STEM side of campus.

I ended up going to work for my uncle in his construction management business. It wasn’t really a good fit, but it was a nice paycheck, and it gave me the freedom to start teaching night classes at a local university.

Two years later, my husband and I were loading a moving truck bound from Montgomery, AL, to Bremerton, WA.

Twist.

Since then, we’ve lived in Florida, Tennessee (twice), Alabama (three times), Arkansas, and now Georgia.

Turn, turn, twist, turn.

I had expected to be a Career Woman, a full-time college math professor. And I was, for a while. But then God started slowly changing my heart and my trajectory. I started teaching only part-time. I had a baby boy. Then I had a baby girl. I began to ever-so-slightly consider homeschooling. Then we tried homeschooling for just a year. Then we kept on homeschooling. And in a couple of weeks, I’m going to be presenting workshops at three homeschool conventions.

Twist.

So were those math degrees mistakes? No. They literally paid for many of the steps along the way. I still teach math online from home. And now God is beginning to use it to encourage and empower other homeschool moms.

So as you flip through that course catalog one more time searching for a major that jumps off the page, as you continue to seek His will, know that He is able to lead you through every twist and turn. He can use it all to advance His kingdom.

Choosing a major is important. Yes. But it is not of utmost importance. Seeking after Him and following what He has already revealed to you in the Bible is paramount. Obey what He has already said, and He will reveal the rest a little at a time. He has created you with a certain personality and a collection of abilities. That’s not by accident. Move toward those unless He directs otherwise.

It’s not your responsibility to make sure that your life turns out just the way He wants. He is big enough to direct your path. He is strong enough to reroute you when necessary, especially when you are seeking His will. Don’t try to figure out the next 50 years all at once. Just do what you know to do today.

He’s got this. And He’s got you in the palm of His hand.