The life I am living is not the life I wanted.
I had dreams, aspirations, intentions for where I thought my life should go. I knew what I wanted and how I was going to get it. When I was a kid, I didn’t dream about the kids I have. I didn’t dream about the woman I am married to. I didn’t dream about the job I have.
These things didn’t even breach my consciousness.
I was a young man coming into my own. I was 18 and fearless. I was ready to take on the world. I left home in search of glory and riches. (read: headed to college). My goal was simple, graduate and become a rocket scientist who works for NASA.
I had no doubts about the path I had chosen. I loved math. There was a thrill I received from spending hours solving problems. Math was my strongest subject. In nearly 15 years of school I never once had a problem I could not understand.
I loved science. There was a peace I got from understanding the world through my senses. I spent countless hours immersing myself in Science Fiction stories believing I could be the nerd to make these realities.
It was only a matter of time.
6 years to be exact.
(Give or take a few.)
But it only took 6 months. Within 6 months that was all ruined. And I have God to blame.
You see, God was trying to destroy those dreams of mine. He was hurtling figurative bolts of lightning at me setting fire to everything I thought precious all the while trying to rouse me from my slumber.
Apparently, he had other plans.
Early on in my collegiate career, I stumbled into a couple of young men in their early twenties on the verge of completing their own collegiate lives. They were seminary students with a purpose. They were on the lookout for someone to host a forum in his/her room once a week. These men were prepared.
They had a DVD and everything.
Their names were Billy and Delvin.
And I, believing everything happens for a reason and having grown up in the church, thought it sounded interesting. I agreed. We decided to meet every Monday. My task was to invite as many people as I could.
The first night we had 2 people. The second week we had 3 people. And over the first semester the forum steadily grew. By the last night we were squeezing 22 people into a teeny-weeny dorm room.
I got to know Billy and Delvin. They spoke to me about the Bible and God more than anyone else ever had. They got me to open the Bible. They made me begin to think about the Bible and God being more than just a Sunday thing.
Now, understand, I called myself a Christian. I espoused thoughts which resonated with a Biblical toll. I even spoke with authority on what the Bible said. (All the while having never read a single page.)
And I was beginning to see my hypocrisy.
Here, God was manuevering like a Navy Seal under cover of night into my life. He was setting me up for the destruction. Slowly and methodically, He was weakening the struts and supports of my life. Just waiting.
The next semester came, and Billy and Delvin left for bigger and brighter things. I began to embed myself deeper into my goals. I registered for three engineering classes: Calculus 2, Mechanics and Heat 1, and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE)101. I was ready. I was excited.
I was not prepared.
Calculus 2 was taught by an elderly man with a penchant for saying “idear”. Mechanics and Heat 1 was taught by a barely coherent old German Physicist. MAE 101 was taught by a young stud straight out of college. Each class was a nightmare.
One by one I found myself lost in an alien world.
Mechanics and Heat was the first to fall. After my first failed test and a tutoring session, I was concerned but ready to right the ship. I confidently strode into the professor’s office and eagerly retook his test. I used the shortcuts I had been taught and breezed through the test in less than 2o minutes. Handing back the test, I knew everything was going to be all right.
Quickly, he scanned the exam with his red pen, making quick jots here and there. Then he handed it back to me. I had gotten an extra 2 points. Still an F.
The deadline to drop was 3 weeks away, but I didn’t waste any time. I promptly did so.
God Sampsoned the first pillar.
Next was MAE 101.
Now understand that I spent 4 years, 4 YEARS, taking Autocad (a computerized architecture program) as my elective in High School. I was a master at the program. I developed 3-D waterparks and dream houses with ease.
But for some reason, I couldn’t even figure out how to extract a circle into a cylinder. Nothing I tried to do made sense. There was no explanation. I simply could not do it. The best analogy I can make is a professional pitcher in baseball being traded to a new team and all of a sudden he has lost the ability to even throw the ball.
I struggled for weeks just trying to make the simplest of images. Finally, I was fed up. A week after dropping Mechanics and Heat, I dropped MAE 101.
God Davided the second Goliath.
Then came Calculus 2.
There I was sitting in Calc 2, my night class, awaiting the results from my first exam. I had already dropped the other two classes, and I was just hoping to make it through the third.
The old man at the front of the room grabbed the stack sitting on the desk and began calling names. One by one bodies passed by receiving their scores. Finally, he called my name. Slowly, I trudged up to the desk knowing how difficult the class had been up to this point.
I’d like to say that when I received my test I was surprised, but really, I wasn’t. I guess I knew it was coming. I mean the semester had gone so wrong up until that point. What did I expect to change?
I stared down at the large, red, semi-circle on the top of the page and began to wonder why. I flipped through a few pages and fathomed that the simple answer was, I just didn’t get it. I wasn’t understanding the material. I was failing for the first time in my life. And it was all happening my first year of college.
The world spun beneath my feet. I held on to a desk to steady myself. But I couldn’t stay any longer. I needed to get out. I needed air. Hastily, I strode from the room out in the cold night air and didn’t stop until I reached my empty dorm room. I fell on my bed unsure of what to do.
I looked across the room and saw the Bible sitting on my desk. I hadn’t touched the thing since before Christmas Break, but something inside me willed me to open it. What was read has been forgotten by me, but I recall feeling an overwhelming sense that I was not where I was supposed to be.
I tried to ignore it and stick with Calc 2 through the semester, but a few weeks later it became evident that I was not going to pass. A second exam rendered an F, and I knew I had to drop. I was two weeks past the drop date, so the F stuck.
God Joshuaed the last Jericho.
I went to my room that night and fell on my knees sobbing. This confident, 18 year old, young man defeated by college and unsure of what to do could do nothing else. I felt as though I had no more hope. My dreams were slipping away. My future was tangbile no more. All I could think to do was pray.
So I did.
I prayed for help. I prayed for guidance. I prayed for my future. I prayed for wisdom. I prayed and prayed and prayed.
When I was done, the old feeling resurfaced. I was not where I was supposed to be. This time I thought I should listen to it. I began to pray again asking for understanding of this feeling. At that time, the only image I could think about was an empty classroom. I didn’t understand.
I stood up and remembered that I had a history test the next day. The history class was the only one that semester I did well at. When the other classes felt like a foreign language, I felt at ease with this one.
And as I began to think about this dichotomy an epiphany occured to me. An empty classroom and history. They just seemed to fit perfectly. That was what I was suppsed to do. Learn history and teach.
God Crucified my life.
I didn’t know how I was going to do it. I didn’t know where I was going to go. I didn’t even know if it was what I wanted, but for some reason I was being told I needed to be a teacher.
So, I began to pray in earnest about what it meant and what I was supposed to do, and, little by little, I began to figure out that God wanted me to go home.
He began to reveal to me that I had never asked Him what He wanted for my life. He had always planned for me to be a teacher, but I was unwilling. He had to ruin my life.
Now that I look back on that fateful year, a few realities hit me.
First, the woman I married would never have become my wife had I never moved back. (That story is for another post.) My dreams for a wife infintely paled in comparison to the amazing and wonderful woman God intended for me. I would have missed out if God had not ruined my life.
Second, the children the Lord has blessed me with I would have never known had He not ruined my life. I would not have understood the depth of love He has for us and the cost to God for eternal slavation without the experience of being a father.
Third, I would probably not even have a job right now if he hadn’t ruined my life. NASA is going through quite a bit of turmoil and changes right now. Shuttles are being mothballed. The Orion Project is having setbacks. They are downsizing.
God knew what He was doing.
So, what can I say, but praise Him for ruining my life. Had He never stepped in, had He never gotten a hold of me, had He never ruined my life, I would not enjoy the boundless blessings of the beautful wife, the wonderful children, and the interesting, to say the least, career that I do today.
The life I am living is not the life I wanted. It is far better than anything I could have dreamed.