Last night at Agape 2012 (faith-based benefit concert at Tufts where student performers use the arts as an expression of God’s Love) I shared my testimony. In case you couldn’t make it and be overwhelmed by God’s goodness and love through all the dances, songs, and testimonies, here’s mine at the least. I didn’t say everything I typed out, but it’s the fuller story. Feel free to grab me for a meal or to talk if you ever need it.
Now in prep for this, I’ve been praying and it’s been exciting to see what God has slowly been revealing. I have a general idea about what He’s about to say about what He’s written so far in the story of my life on earth, but you should know that there are hundreds of stories I could tell about God’s goodness and love. This is just a small attempt to give you a small idea of who this big God is through my struggles. There are thousands of reasons why I love and trust the Lord.
Before Tufts, as many of us were, I was always at the top of my class. I grew up with my parents, their friends, teachers, and my friends knowing that I always succeeded in school. I even got a double promotion and skipped third grade. The fourth graders that year hated me. My dad expected me to get academic awards and just go above and beyond.
So that created high expectations to fulfill for my parents and myself, and created a very deep-rooted sense of pride about how awesome I was.
Then we get to Tufts. God had a lot of work to do with me.
This semester is the FIRST semester at Tufts I haven’t withdrawn or dropped from a class due to academic struggles. Things are finally turning around, but my, was I impatient.
I thought it was hard when I had to drop Bio 13 freshmen year since that was the first time I failed like that academically and ended up resulting in my first time experience hearing God’s voice clearly through Scripture when He said in Proverbs 23:18 “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”
So after having to drop another class second semester as well, I thought freshmen year was God humbling me and that was that. Now I’m good! Psh. Wrong. We’re proud all the time and God had a LOT to break down in me.
My dream to be a missionary doctor in India started to get rattled starting sophomore year. Genetics in the fall ended being bad news bears and I had to withdraw. I started to doubt the biology major, the pre-med track, but God told me to stay. I did and I was really confused why these struggles kept happening.
Over winter break, I got a Tufts email that I had been put on academic probation because of the W and an almost failing grade in Chem 1. I remember being in utter denial, wanting to explode, and wanting to curl up in a ball all at the same time. Talk about emotional confusion. I had no choice about telling my parents since they got a letter in the mail, which I’m glad about. So the only people in the WORLD who knew about my Academic Probation 1 were Mom, Dad, Dean Gould, and Anisha. It was staying that way because things were gonna get better before anyone even knew what was happening.
Wrong again. I didn’t think it was possible for things to get worse. Dropped Chem 2 and doing poorly in a bio class. I would tell people that I was struggling academically, but no one knew the true extent because I didn’t let anyone in. I got so annoyed when I was constantly reminded that “God is with you”, “God is going to change things”, or “God is writing your story”. I didn’t want to exercise patience. I felt like my pre-med plan was slowly getting ruined, and I wanted everything to be fixed ASAP.
Following a recommendation of a pre-med advisor, I decided to take genetics AND general physiology during one summer session. Bad. Don’t do that.
I knew I needed to drop one because I couldn’t handle the speed and amount of material, but God kept saying…”trust me”. It was a day by day struggle. I would literally write words like “trust” and “faith” and “don’t worry” on my hand to keep myself from spiraling down in negativity. Then there came a point when I realized I would need a miracle to even pass genetics. No more, “okay I shall trust God.” It became “God what the hell is going on?! Why is this getting worse?! You promised better!” An hour after this realization, I get a Tufts email that I’ve been put on Academic Probation 2.
‘Crushed’ is a tame description of how my insides felt. I was a wreck. Knowing I needed to withdraw, had a rare argument with my mom, and being put on AP 2 was too much to handle so I cried myself to sleep a lot at the end of that summer session and at home. I couldn’t really feel where He was, even though I knew He was with me. I tried to push all the emotion down until I got home that summer to figure things out, but I had some emotional explosions at church when I couldn’t sing songs in faith and the next day when I met with my genetics professor to make sure that it was the right decision. He didn’t even ask how I was, he didn’t know me. He point blank said “I have no idea why you’re still in this class and you should have withdrawn a long time ago.” This uncompassionate blow to my pride led to me sitting on the grass outside of Carm crying to my mom asking her for all the answers I could not find in God. I asked for her forgiveness for wasting time and money and for disappointing her. She just asked if I still believed in God and I told her there was no way I’d deny Him, I just didn’t know why there was this much suffering.
Matthew 6:33-34. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
That’s what I thought I was living by in college, and I didn’t see the fruit. I almost felt betrayed that I was putting God before everything, and He couldn’t handle some grades.
At home, I had a 2-week walk through the desert, giving God the cold shoulder. I was really mad at Him, and as I look back, I’m very thankful He was so patient and faithful. I love praying and talking to Him, but I didn’t for two weeks. That’s a LONG time for me. A time of questions, doubts, worries. Do I go back to Tufts? Do I take some time off? I knew I had a calling at Tufts, but the enemy was trying to trick me that it was time to leave. After I had a talk with my mom, the truths moved from my head to my heart. The perfect illustration she gave was that sometimes when we are driving in the car and the road gets bumpy, we think something’s wrong with the car when it’s really just the road. We’re still going the right way; just because the road changes, that doesn’t mean we’re not going the right way. I decided to follow my passion for kids by pursuing a major in child development. It turns out that it will work out perfectly and I’ll graduate on time.
FALL JUNIOR YEAR
And child development truly has changed my whole Tufts experience. Following your passion is so important. I am now able to be passionate about my studies and perform well, only through God’s peace and wisdom. In the fall I had to drop my retake of Chem 1 because the signs weren’t lookin’ too good, and I equated giving this up to giving up my pre-med dreams. I thought I had to get pre-med stuff done during undergrad, and I was quite upset when my dean refused to let me leave the office until I dropped the class (she was doing this out of pure love and concern-best advice I’ve received at Tufts). Was this really my dream or God’s dream? Or one in the same? However, the way I reacted might seem the same on the outside, but spiritually, I no longer craved the answers. All I wanted was Him. I wanted God more than I wanted the answers this time around. It still bothered me, but I could tell God had increased my faith in His plans for me “and how we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.” Soon after this, I had a revelation that if God already gave all of us the greatest gift of all in Jesus then it makes no sense whatsoever for anything else that happens to me to not be in my best interest. It’d be silly if God did the best thing ever for us and then treated us like crap after. He gave me a beautiful vision of myself as a doctor with joyous Indian children running into my arms that has sealed God’s plan for me. I’ve doubted it many a times here at Tufts, but not anymore.
As long as I’m with Him, I’m more than satisfied and happy with the day I’m given. “Each day has enough trouble of its own” so why worry about tomorrow when I have today? So yes, I dream about what it’ll be like to be a doctor, but I don’t really see the need now to plan the next few years of post-baccalaureate to finish pre-med requirements or anything because God’s plans will be infinitely better than anything I can come up with.
I thought I was done with that whole thing then, even though I was on AP 2, I thought the testimony would just end with, “God got me off probation, yay, praise God.” Wrong, yet again. See a theme?
He convicted me to share with the whole world on my blog what I really meant by ‘academic struggle.’ He told me to be free from it and that complete exposure with Him and His people will lead to true fellowship. So even though it was one of the hardest things ever to write, God continued the healing process for me as I wrote and shared. Honesty and humility is never easy. But today, I willingly and easily share about it because it never was my story to hoard. I don’t even know 600 people but that’s about how many have clicked on that post (No More Hiding) specifically since Halloween.
Due to my past, I had trouble trusting friends and how they would perceive me. What would they think if they knew I was on AP? Well, I was so wrong because I found so many who love me as I am and would have easily been there for me if I had just let them in. Struggling with your family of brothers and sisters supporting you makes things infinitely easier. So by letting them in, I got to celebrate with everyone when I was completely removed from academic probation over winter break! It was so much more rewarding to share in the journey of God’s faithfulness with everyone than if it was just my parents and me.
DAY BY DAY
God proved His faithfulness to me in such a way that I can never deny this truth in my heart. Yes, I forget unfortunately when I focus on the waves surrounding me instead of just looking at His face, but He is faithful. Realizing how faithful He is has challenged me so much to be try to be as faithful to Him! He’s also very patient, letting me feel frustrated and confused about His plans while He knew all along that I was just being very silly. That’s why my 2012 resolution is to obey, because He’s more than proven to me that He’s the most trustworthy. I will follow and surrender all to Him because there’s no way I could ever turn back.
Yet I am still going deeper into this understanding of His faithfulness. This semester when I found myself in a similar situation of being unprepared for coming exams because I got distracted when God broke my heart for children trapped in sex trafficking, my faith wavered for a bit when God was testing whether I really understood His faithfulness, grace, and goodness. Ultimately though, God gave me time and grace and instead of doing poorly, everything exceeded all expectations because God gave me multiplied wisdom and everything went so well! So at first I thought I was going full circle, but it’s really an upward cycle. He says “Do not worry” so why do I still worry and stress? That really indicates that I don’t trust and don’t have faith, so my understanding is that stress is silly and unproductive. He wants to give us peace so I will receive it!
Be still and know He is God.
Yes, it gets quite tiring sometimes to continue struggling walking this narrow path, but you know what? I wouldn’t have life on any other path, so it’s more than worth it. And the beautiful part of this journey is that it’s in the normal day-to-day walking to class, going to sleep, and studying when you can find Him too. It’s not just when you’re doing the ‘Christian’ things…God never leaves you. It’s walking step by step with Him when I’ve found a lot of joy. “In Your presence, O God, there is fullness of joy”
I really feel like Job in this since I had to learn how to trust in God’s goodness despite my situation. And yeah, God is very good indeed.
I just read in a book called The Torch and the Sword that “All who follow the King in this time will soon know an adventure greater than any tale, greater than any dream.”
Which reminds me of a song by United Pursuit Band: “Come away with me, it’s gonna be wild, it’s gonna be great, it’s gonna be full of me”
This adventure with God is the most exciting adventure I’ve ever been on, and I can’t wait to see what else is in store whether I be dreaming what it’ll be like to be doctor or realizing all the blessings He poured on me that particular day.
I leave you with the lyrics of “He Holds My Hand” written by the Tufts Gospel Choir director, David Coleman. It has touched me deeply because it’s my testimony in song.
“I don’t know about tomorrow, I just live from day to day. Don’t borrow from its sunshine for its skies may turn to grey. Don’t worry o’er the future, for I know what Jesus said. And today I walk beside Him for He knows what is ahead. Many things about tomorrow that I don’t seem to understand. But I know who holds tomorrow, and I know who holds my hand.”