This post is Part Two of a three-part series written by Emma Uebele, an alumnus of American University Chi Alpha. Emma lives fully, embracing art, stories and people as she seeks to know more about God, herself, and the world.
As I wrote my last letter I found another important gap between my education and my life now. College did not teach me endurance. Well, perhaps I picked up a thing or two. I persevered through dorm life, midterms, a handful of extensive research papers, finals even. But in college you get to start fresh every semester. You get to stop and rest then return with a new assortment of classes, colleagues, and professors. If you have an awful course, it will be over in a few short months and A or F you get to move on with your life. Under the temporary dictatorship of your International Development professor who teaches out of his own books, uses you for his personal research, and has never experimented with anything on powerpoint beyond white slides and black Arial font--this may seem like an eternity. But before you know it finals will come again and you will be free.
Sometimes I wish my life was still time stamped that way. I could do anything for a semester. Somehow just knowing that there was an end in sight generally gave me the fortitude to carry on, however reluctantly. It's when the future stretches out before you in its unbroken entirety that endurance gets real. That is where deep endurance is forged.
I'm writing to you from a makeshift desk at my parents’ house in Portland, Oregon. Wind whips wildly through the garden outside and rain plays softly on the cedar shingles. I am not where I thought I would be. I am not sure what the future holds. My story is less structured than it ever has been. I'm finding that it is here, in those places where our anticipation is not equal to our reality that our endurance grows.
It is not surrounded by my loving community with days structured by work and school and friends that endurance truly deepens. Not that there is anything wrong with those days. They prepared me for today in more ways than I can count. But I just want to tell you where I am so you're not surprised if you ever find yourself in a similar place. Know that you are always being prepared for the next thing and the way you are walking has been prepared for you.
I've found it easier to walk on and endure when I can find those divine appointments and confirmations that God has purpose in my days here. My brother deployed to Afghanistan last month. Because I was home I spent the summer with him and now I get to be with my parents through this season. I was able to stand up in the weddings of three of my dearest friends. I get to spend more time with my extended family than I ever have in my life.
And I get to deepen my endurance for whatever comes next.
Who can say, maybe that's the biggest gift of all. Don't be afraid of times for building. Don't be discouraged if your present reality is not what you expected. Know you are being forged. I do not know what is coming next, but the forger does. So I will trust him to mold me for it and walk onward.