What Writing Means to Me (Part 3)

Journalism lasted less than a semester. Less than a week. Okay, if you want to get really technical about it, it didn’t even make it through the front door of my new college life.

That’s because the School of Journalism closed, suddenly and irrevocably, two weeks prior to my arrival. In favor of Theatre Arts. In a letter that hailed the new program on two sides of a memo but denounced the old one in fine print on the back. Did I want to join the new program instead, they wondered?

Of course I didn’t want to join the new program instead. I was, after all, a news writer with my integrity to uphold. (Who knows to whom my indignation here was directed. I had, ahem, just one semester of high school journalism behind me and a couple of years on the yearbook staff. Promising news life ahead, indeed.)

But one thing was certain. There was definitely no room in the very important plans I had in view for my life for traipsing around wooden stages in purple and green nylon stockings and big fluffy hats with feathers spouting out the top!

So I blundered my way into education instead and proceeded to spend the next two and a half of what I now deem wasted years doing . . . well, something. I must have been doing something those two and a half years I spent in that major, I’m sure, but all I remember now are a few of the kids I taught, a lesson plan I made about illustrating scenes from Goosey Goes to Market, and the many frustrating days I endured trying to explain abstract math concepts with the likes of hardened kidney beans, paste, and popsicle sticks.

I just wasn’t -- and never have been -- good at teaching young kids whose frames stop short of five feet tall.

And let’s face it. I just wasn’t -- and never have been -- interested in teaching young kids at all. I never knew how to talk to other kids my age when I was one of them, never hit upon the knack my sister innately had for baby-sitting and playing mommy to all the little kids down the block, and didn't really enjoy the company of wee ones. Why did I somehow think all that had changed when I got to college?

I don’t know. So goes the first set of “wasted years” in my life.

As a disclaimer for those quick-to-be-alarmed-at-anything-sounding-unorthodox types out there, let me be quick to point out that I know nothing is wasted in the hands of God. Those years weren't really wasted; it just feels like they were. He used that time in the classroom, I’m sure, to help those kids and myself. At the very least, he used it to show me at least one thing I am not and perhaps shine some rays of sunshine and love into the lives of those otherwise needy and lonely inner city kids with fathers in jail, uncles on bail, and brothers in hardened and streetwise gangs. And he used the next stage of my life -- the “writer poser” stage, into which we step next in our story -- to wrap me in the skin of a real aspiring writer, finally.

I thank God every day for the mercy He extended to me in leading me out of some darker -- and, albeit, somewhat embarrassing -- phases and into His marvelous light: the wide open fields of true and unimagined and unparalleled identity in which I now walk today.

Stay tuned for the next bit of news in this story of grace, coming your way later this week.