There are a lot of you that read my blog or old friends that see my life through the rose coloured glasses of social media. Whilst I do my best to portray the difficult times as well as good times in my life, it is easy to view another’s social media page and assume the grass as being ‘greener on the other side’. I would like to put fresh lenses in those glasses and give you a deeper perspective on the last 6 years .
This is a story of how my gracious God brought me places that but for him, I would not be. It is a story of how he was a rock for me during tribulations, tears and tests. When I was ready to give up on uni, questioning where he had me, he held on tight, his love did not change and he did not give up on me. This story is proof that he can do the same for you, if you let him.
In the beginning – finishing school
I had always wanted to be a lawyer and many teachers encouraged me to apply for it. I didn’t get the UAI mark I needed (due to my social life I am certain) but thanks to a few band 6’s I received it bumped my mark up enough to receive an offer to study at UOW (my first preference). I was in. I was excited – I might just be a lawyer!
University of Wollongong
At orientation day I met a girl who would help get me through the long journey ahead, Ashleigh – another UGG boot wearing, Thai food loving, Sydney girl who became a travel and study buddy! We had a lot of fun together. An example – one day, as wise and incredibly mature second year students, we BLASTED Five’s “Keep on Moving” in my little Toyota Corolla, all the way through uni. Those who gave us strange looks were met with louder singing. I had many other wonderful friends and at Wollongong who I love dearly.
First year is all law subjects – I think this is designed to break and bond you. Those who were broken, sadly left. Those who survived and were stupid enough to think they could do another 4 years of it stayed and created friendships akin to comrades at war. It was considered okay to text someone at 3am asking for assignment help. Facebook and Skype chats would go long into the night (it felt far less lonely) as we discussed everything and nothing, often laughing at the far-fetched thought that one day we would be done.
Difficulties at UOW
Despite the great friends, there were times where I struggled at UOW. I would get so nervous and stressed about assignments I would be shaking. One time it was so bad, I could not physically type assignment despite being due that day. My friends around me in the Law Library couldn’t understand. I didn’t understand. Why had God given me something I could not do?! I slept that night and finished the assignment the next day. I thought I was certain to fail. But God got me through and I passed.
In all my uni days – I did not fail one subject. It felt like it came close many times though. I remember one final exam I turned up 20 minutes late to and I sat down in tears. My friends’ lifted their heads for a quick exchange of sympathy as I walked into the basketball court with thousands of students madly writing. With a pep talk and a major cry out to God in my heart, I got myself together and started the exam. He calmed me enough to finish the exam and somehow I passed that subject too!
Meeting Reis – 2nd semester, 2010
Ashleigh was concerned when I told her I met a guy in the army – ‘an army wife is a hard job!’ she warned. ‘I’ve just met the guy, not getting married yet, calm down!’ I said. Soon my lectures were spent writing letters to Reis, as he was away doing his officer training without a phone. Later in the year, fortnightly weekends were spent travelling to see each other, for a sweet 48 hours together. Early on (as my Dad later ever-so-kindly noted at our engagement party), I even ‘stole’ the car to drive to Canberra to see him. What a hooligan I was! I blame it on love. It’s a dangerous drug. Funnily enough Kesha’s “your love is my drug” song came out at the same time and became ‘our song’. It was a lot of fun.
Marrying Reis – 2012 and moving to Brisbane
Reis and I were married two years later and I moved out of home and trundled off to Brisbane where my beautiful man was based. We have a wonderful marriage (and he is so worth it all), but it was far more difficult than I thought it would be. You can read other posts about what I learnt in first year of marriage and second year of marriage.
University of Queensland -2012-2014
I studied the remainder of my degree at UQ. The first semester at UQ was daunting but I survived 3 subjects (I think I was still running on adrenaline). After that semester though I crashed. Hard.
I really, really missed home. I hated University of Queensland and made no new friends there. It was an isolating experience. The thought of it made me sick. I would purposely but unconsciously prolong leaving the house to go to uni because I didn’t want to be there, which meant I was often late. I would spend days in bed crying instead of studying. If I managed to get out of bed it would be to stare blankly at the screen overwhelmed at the thought of doing another reading or assignment.
I struggled to make the decision to take a part time workload at uni because I could not cope. I feared everyone saying ‘I told you that you wouldn’t finish your degree if you married young!’. I also did not want to prolong my time at UQ. However with wise counsel from Reis I realised that if I wanted to survive, I would need to. I dropped to two subjects, then to one. It was a BIG hit to my pride. Future semesters I tried to study three and had to drop it down to two again following breakdowns and being unable to cope.
Why was I unable to cope? I had way too much on my plate with many changes to adapt to. I had new responsibilities – to cook, to clean, to work more hours. Oh, did I mention that my new-found husband was only home half of the time? I spent months with him away or working elsewhere Monday-Friday – you can read this post about our time apart.
The last semester wasn’t a motivating sprint to the end either. I didn’t think I would pass that last subject and did not want to get excited, just to be extra disappointed when I failed (yes, after all God had done for me to this point – I had little faith). I think God answered my prayers for marker leniency, as I passed! I was ESTATIC!! It was finally over.
I have no doubt that winning the trip to Dubai was God’s big gift to me for finishing Uni. It was not because of my efforts but rather him showing his faithful, ever-pursuing love for me. I feel like Paul who wrote to the Corinthians: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” 1 Corinthians 15:10.
What got me through?
Meditating on Scripture daily
Reminding myself that God was far bigger than all I had before me and he had a good plan for me. I would remind myself daily of God’s promises, particularly these ones:
- Isaiah 41:9: “I have called you from the ends of the earth,from its farthest corners I called you.I said ‘You are my servant’;I have chosen you and not rejected you.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
I love reflecting on the fact that I am loved by God and set right in his sight because of Jesus taking the death I deserved. Knowing that the creator wanted a relationship with me so much he bridged the gap that my rebellion caused between us by sending Jesus, his own son. I have assurance of eternal life because I have asked him to be king of my life with the knowledge that I can do nothing else to get me to heaven. Knowing this makes all difficulties pale in comparison to the good I have awaiting me in heaven.
My prayer warriors
My darling husband, Mum and Dad picked me up and dusted me off more times than one can count and then prayed earnestly for me throughout the past 6 years (thank you!!). Reis and Dad were editors to all my assignments when my brain was too fried to look at the lengthy and complicated paragraphs any further.
When we moved to Brisbane, Reis would devotedly coax me out of bed and sit with me whilst I started daunting assignments. He would take me to the library and bring a book of his own to read as I did my readings. If you don’t know, law readings are about 2 bibles worth per subject – yes, you want to die. Mum and Reis made me countless cups of tea and warm dinners when they were with me and I was chained to my desk. Reis would keep up all the housework and drive me to my exams, ensuring I had everything I needed, as when I was stressed I tended to forget things. One time I turned up to uni with no shoes on.
There were also many, many dear friends (new and old) and other family members who also prayed for me and supported me with constant messages of encouragement I cherish your devoted support and thank you so much that you never gave up on me! A special thanks to my Brisbane family and my bridesmaids.
I only discovered exercise as a stress release later in the last three years of uni but it really helped me when I would be sitting down all day and stopped me from stress eating whilst I was studying.
You too will make it through the challenges that come your way if you trust God. “For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37) – my graduation (pictures below) is living proof of it!
So flippin’ happy it is done!!