My freshman year did not have a smooth start. After being sick for the entire second half of my senior year of high school, I really looked forward to a fresh start at Clemson University in the fall. I had been feeling so much better recently and was ready to start over and put my illness in the past. God had other plans, as He often does. Getting used to the physical exertion of walking up and down Clemson's hills all day was far from an easy transition as my body was still weak and tired from spending months in a hospital bed. Apparently, my body was not quite ready for that transition. In October, my symptoms continued to worsen to the point that I was forced to return to Duke for treatment and even move out of my amazing apartment with my three darling roommates and into a single medical dorm so that my needs could be met. My sweet momma lived with me in this college dorm for several weeks. It was a battle. It was a battle trying to catch up in my classes. It was a battle even waking up to go to classes. I had a car that picked me up every morning and drove me to class all day. It was far from ideal. I was embarrassed. This was not what freshman year was supposed to look like. Christmas break came and I was so relieved. The difficult semester was behind me. I had finished it with good grades and it was over. Once again, I hoped for a fresh start come second semester.
Second semester. February came and I was working in lab when I began leaking again. My parents came to Clemson and picked me up to take me home. We went back to Duke for treatment, and thus began the recovery once again. Once again, I was fighting to go to class and keep my grades up. I was battling my professors trying to get them to understand. It was hard. It was frustrating. It was embarrassing. It was emotional.
At times during the semester, things became so difficult that my family and I considered having me take a year off from school so I could focus on my health, but, by the grace of God, I pushed through. It's funny how expectations work, huh? They really are truly evil things. We expect things to go a certain way. Either we see it on TV or hear about it from a friend or even just picture in our mind how things should happen. Why on earth do we do this? It almost always leads to frustration, disappointment, and hurt. What did I expect of freshman year? I expected that I would start out feeling amazing with no health problems. I expected that I would instantly make a billion and one friends. I expected I would be at the front of the stadium of every single home football game. I expected I would live the whole year with my roommates. I expected the ideal freshman year (as I think most people do).
|Me with one of my family group leaders, Jessi|
1) My Family Group: I honestly would not have survived this semester without the constant love and encouragement from my sweet family group. Our weekly meetings to pray and study the bible gave me peace in my life. Knowing that there was a group of young woman on campus cheering me on helped me to push forward and rely on God. The very first time I met this group of young women, I immediately felt like I was at home. I felt peace. It was a sanctuary for me. For several weeks at the beginning of school, I had been carrying a burden. As soon as I walked into the home of my family group leader, I was able to drop my burden and come into the presence of Jesus fully at peace with my new sisters at my side. I know these young women will be lifelong friends that I can cherish forever.
2) Brooke Davis: The absolute best roommate I could have ever asked for. Although we only lived together for a few weeks, I could not have possibly been blessed with a more loving and kind young woman to live with. Despite my illness and my hardship during those first few weeks, she never complained. I hate that I had to move out, but I am forever grateful for those weeks where a lasting friendship could be made.
3) Sarah Sturkie: The sweet flower and coffee-loving young woman who wasn't afraid to reach out to me the very second I asked for help. I can always count on my sweet Sarah to text me with words of encouragement and bible passages to encourage me and uplift me. She is a true woman of God. She is so strong, and God has such huge plans for her. She was a light for me when I was in a dark place. She is so full of love and compassion for others. She is completely selfless and would be there in a heartbeat for anyone who needs her.
4) Emily Tester: My instant best friend. Is there really anything else to say? We met each other during second semester and instantly knew we loved each other. Within maybe three days, it was like we had known each other forever. Emily is always there for me. She gives me food and forces me to do my homework. She sympathizes with me when Derek Shepherd dies. She understands that sometimes there are days when you just need to stay in bed all day. She constantly encourages me to be my best. She believes in me. She prays for me. She loves me even when I haven't washed my face yet and it's 4pm. She goes on spontaneous trips to Target with me. She makes me do things I ordinarily wouldn't do on my own (aka the Color Run). She loves me, and I love her.
These are just a few of the things that God blessed me with during Freshman year. If my expectations had been met, I might not have had the opportunity to meet these darling young women and be in the place that I am today. It was a hard year. It was a very hard year, but I now I am much stronger than I was before. Yes, it was a hard year. Yes, I almost didn't make it. But, because of God's grace and mercy and unfailing love, I have so many opportunities now that I never could have dreamed I would have. In just a few days, I am leaving on a medical mission trip to Costa Rica and Panama for a few weeks to provide healthcare to those living in poverty and desolation. Then, when I return, I will be interning at a Hematology and Oncology Clinic in Charlotte, NC. Despite my struggles and my pain, I continue to run wholeheartedly after Jesus Christ and strive to be more like Him.