College was my flight to freedom. Since the age of eleven I felt out of control, unable to make decisions for myself, unable to take the wheel of my destiny. Even though I lived at home my first year, I was motivated by the power to shape my own future. I didn’t have to live this life. I didn’t have to repeat the mistakes I so grievously laid at the feet of my parents. I could fly—all by myself.
I felt like I came out of the small-town cocoon of who I was supposed to be to who I really was in the college classroom. Smart and armed with a tenacity for being able to learn easily, I breezed through my classes. What do I want to be when I grow up? bounced around in my head like pin balls. Finally, without consulting anyone, especially the God that I kept at a comfortable arm’s length, I decided on special education. I had a heart for this population for a long time, and was being pulled like a magnet to this field.
Embarking on the field of re-defining myself was an exciting venture, one that I threw both arms around. As I finished my first year of junior college with almost two years of classes under my belt, I shut the door of my trunk, kissed my parents and my brothers good-bye and aimed towards a 15,000 student university. Here, I continued to ride high on the exhilarating endorphins of independence.
Dorm-life was challenging, but at the same time fun. I met some unexpected kindred spirits in the setting of the international dorm (still not sure how a South Georgia girl got that placement), and it was different and interesting. I began making decisions all by myself, without the constraint of expectation. My confidence level grew with every complement, every good grade, every goal met. I broke ties that needed to be broken and I started seeing past the next moment and focusing on the next five years.
My relationship with God at this point was challenged because my level of exposure to different belief systems escalated in the university setting. All the while, even though I wasn’t vocal about it, I still knew what I believed was truth. Always did. Guilt would drive me to open a dust-covered devotional and journal and then it too could be conveniently checked off. But I knew He was there, watching and waiting. I reveled in the security of self and naive stupidity that one day when I grew up and had a family, then I would explore my relationship with God, on my terms and in my timing. Then all would be set right.
My life set on a different course one day during an Introduction to Education class. In that class, I was introduced to my best friend who would later become by husband and the father of my children. Our friendship preceded all of that by two years. We were When Harry Met Sally buddies, and his friendship came to mean more to me than any other relationship I experienced.
The Galatians 5 challenge is all about pursuing one fruit during 2016. Mine is peace and through the telling of my story I hope to share a little of what this journey looks like for me. I invite you to join me.
Galatians 5:22-23 The Message
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Amanda Williams is a forty-year old wife and mother of two who can still swing her pony tail and display just a tad of sass. She is also a Jesus loving girl who realizes she is nothing without the One who saved her. Amanda has two degrees specializing in serving students with special needs and is currently working in the field of Leadership Development. She is a Christian author, speaker, blogger, and publisher who loves serving beside her husband at her local place of worship, First Baptist Church of Ocala.