I have a new name! I have elected to refer to myself as “Mother of the College Graduate.” Over the weekend, our daughter received her B.S. in Fashion Design! To God Be The Glory! In case you own stock in Kleenex, you may have increased your value as my tears positively impacted your investment. It was a glorious day and although everyone couldn’t witness the event in person, in my heart and mind and deep down in my soul, I carried each person who ever played a role in the collegiate’s life. The Word of the Lord proclaims in Revelation 12:11: “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.” Here’s a portion of ours…
My brother Marcus once said, “Try something so challenging that in the end no one can get the glory except God!” Well, pursuing an undergraduate degree definitely makes for a case in point. I went into labor nearly 23 years ago during finals week, living as a Resident Director on campus, in a residence hall. It was never a question in my mind as to whether she would attend college, it was simply a matter of where. When her junior year of high school presented itself, she traveled to New York for a summer program at the premier fashion school. She not only took a bite out of the big apple – she consumed everything, including the core. Yet when she applied as an early admit, she was not accepted. She suddenly felt as though none of her subsequent plans would come to fruition. When I say that from the womb, I prayed that she would go to college, I did. It was imperative to stand firm upon Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” I relied on head villager, my mother, to help me to remain calm, but firm, in requiring that she put the same energy into applying to other schools – which she did; yet none excited her like the city that never sleeps. Assisting anyone, but particularly a young person with processing disappointment is not easy; and yet if it doesn’t happen, they enter adulthood having not properly managed the science of not getting their way. Let’s just say it shows up as an opportunity for behavior modification.
Numerous villagers prayed for her to embrace the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection. Yet after six weeks away, her college experience was not improving as prescribed in student developmental theory. We had to make a difficult decision and that was to transfer institutions. An unknown villager appeared and provided impeccable assistance in reviewing her admissions application, conducting a transfer credit evaluation and some much needed enthusiasm about the decision to change schools during her first year. She was the villager with the embodiment of assisting us to remain hopeful in that, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
A new school, in the dead of a cold winter was tough. One villager at our home church was the parent of a daughter who graduated from the new home away from home. She was an affirmer. She began to pray for transition, for new opportunity, for being settled, for peace. Isaiah 52: 12 declares, “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” As contentment arose, activity emerged. She did what a higher education administrator dreams…she got involved! The villagers who work with me shared in excitement and prayed for her covering, believing that as she navigated and balanced academic work with co-curricular, she would stand upon Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
As she traveled countless nights to and from the lab, or to work at the mall which is about a 30 minute drive from campus, navigating and maneuvering in inclement weather, and overall safety – the Holy Spirit would intercede, with reports from villager prayers about her covering in Psalm 91:11, “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” When she traveled abroad, the village sent prayers across thousands of miles and believed Psalm 91:9-10, “For you have made the LORD, my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place. No evil will befall you, Nor will any plague come near your tent.”
The villagers supported financially (Deuteronomy 28:13), the villagers cried out to God on her behalf (Psalm 18:6), the villagers incubated hope (Zephaniah 3:17), the villagers battled the enemy (Isaiah 54:7), the villagers prayed for life after college (Proverbs 16:3), the villagers lifted up the work of her hands (Psalm 90:17), the villagers considered her effort (Joshua 1:3), the villagers rejoiced (Deuteronomy 12:7)! The African proverb states that it takes a village to raise a child. I couldn’t agree more. So on this past weekend, I carried in my heart, the village that not only raised her, but reared me in the process. Some of you have never and may never meet. Yet, the Lord aligned you, often praying and interceding simultaneously, identically, collectively, unaware. One of you would inquire, and pray, while another was the answer to the prayer. Almost like a collection of jigsaw puzzle pieces, fitting together the beautiful vision we witnessed on the weekend. Ephesians 4:16 reads, “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” We are blessed for your intervention and your selflessness. While only her name may be traced on the diploma, the invisible ink bares your name – and our prayer is that God blesses you 100 fold for your intercession. You are the village it took, and we are eternally grateful. You may proudly refer to yourself as “Village of the College Graduate.”