20 Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” 23 So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”
24 This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.
I was sitting at my small group table bright and early in the morning a few months ago when we read this passage. Have you ever had one of those times where you freeze like you've been caught in a spotlight? Where just like that, you can hear God's voice as though he's speaking right beside you? "I'm talking to you, just in case you missed that. You, right there, in the blue shirt." There's no way around it. There's no denying it, or convincing yourself it's just a coincidence. Since you've probably been doing all those things for a while now, it's a hard pill to swallow.
I'm back in school now (cue the streamers and balloons), but that doesn't mean there haven't been some bumps in the road, especially concerning my health. I'm still pretty sick. So, most of the time, I feel lousy during the school day. It's been a struggle to make it through the required seven hours, which is why I'm completing half days next semester. I'll take two classes in school and two virtual classes at home. This schedule is just what my family was hoping for. We've been wanting me to go to the school I'm currently enrolled in for 10 years, and giving it up after a semester was less than perfect; we're so thankful we were able to find a way for me to keep attending traditional school, even if it isn't full-time.
Keeping this in mind, let's take a step back to a few months ago, before I'd accepted my limitations. The first few weeks of school, I was feeling better than usual. I was still struggling to make it through school days sometimes, but just being there was such a big deal for me! It makes sense if I was still struggling, though, and was adjusting to being back at school, clubs should be on the back burner. Simple, right? Not so much. At the beginning of the year, my school administration was pushing for student involvement in clubs. They preached about the vitality of clubs on college applications, and if the idea hadn't been in my head the year prior, it sure was last fall.
I wasn't in any clubs my freshman year because, you guessed it, there isn't an easy way to form a club when you go to a virtual school where students are dispersed across the globe. I was stressed all year about missing out on the extracurriculars everyone was always talking about. Now that I was in a traditional school, I wanted to be in clubs for school spirit, to meet my new schoolmates and teachers, and have some extracurriculars for my college applications. At the beginning, I was planning on joining one club. To me, that was a compromise; I truly wanted to join two or three (at the very least). I went to informational meetings, signed up for email lists, and assured myself I'd be fine. I have just about the worst way of deciding limitations. To me, not being able to do something is only proved by actually attempting it. If I say I cannot do something based on the knowledge that it would be detrimental to me, I have a hard time accepting it without attempting it. It's been a necessary excogitation for me over the years; when you're always sick, you have to complete daily tasks just the same as if you were feeling well. That doesn't always make it the right philosophy, though.
The week before the club I'd decided on really began to start meeting, I got sick(er). I felt absolutely terrible. I was very dizzy, incredibly tired (endometriosis causes chronic fatigue), and my mental health problems were horrible. I finally had to admit that it was unreasonable to be in any clubs. At first, it was rough. My friends were still in the club, and I was still on the email list, so I saw all the events I wasn't able to be a part of. It didn't help that people were still constantly talking about how important extracurriculars are when it comes to college. After a while, though, I was able to come to terms with my limitations.
After the initial excitement of being involved in my school's activities, I'd realized it would be difficult to be in a club. I kept pushing for it, though, from the constant buzz around me. Clubs were the best way to meet my new classmates! Colleges wanted clubs, and they were crucial for most scholarships! I ignored the advice of my parents, common sense, and most importantly, God. Because while I was sitting at my small group table, reading John 21: 20-24, I could sense the lesson was hardly a coincidence. Peter was concerned with the paths of others and not his own path. Every time I'd discussed extracurriculars with my parents, I'd told them how much my school pushed for student involvement through clubs. Every time, my mom had told me she knew it must be hard to not join clubs when they were constantly brought up, but she'd also tell me joining clubs might not be my path. It might be some people's, or many's, paths, but that didn't make it mine.
It's not that I regret jumping headfirst into the fantastical idea of immersing myself in my school, even when it was looking more inimical than anything else. It's not a crime to aspire being involved in your school, listen to the advice of your school's advisors, or improve your chances of success with college admissions down the road. I didn't listen to the people who knew me best, though. I could have saved myself and my family a lot of time and energy if I'd listened to God and my parents, who actual know me, other than my school, which can only make suggestions for the majority of its students. God was trying to speak to me as I read John 21: 20-24, and I tried to ignore it. Just like Jesus told Peter, though, I shouldn't be concerned with the paths of others. I haven't been in any clubs, but I've published two books and have a blog. I play two instruments. Due to a sport requirement, I was on the bowling team this year. I hope to do more volunteer work, tutoring, and babysitting once I'm feeling better. I may not have a traditional college transcript, but I have to realize that's not necessarily a bad thing.