I’d give up chocolate – but I’m no quitter.
I wouldn’t call myself a quitter. I like to think of myself as long suffering and endurant. But I quit something pretty major this year – I quit my studies.
I’ll admit that it’s not as dramatic as it sounds. I completed my bachelor’s degree in psychological counselling last year (which I’m super proud of considering that I completed my final year after having a baby in January). So, what I really quit is the pursuit of a career.
In the field of counselling in South Africa, a number of qualifications are required to become a registered counsellor. And that has been my dream for a long time – to become a counsellor and open my own practice. I have basically completed the first step out of five. Did I mention that my three year degree took me six years to complete? I still have a long way to go.
Quitting, for me, meant not pursuing my honours degree. It meant leaving behind formal eduation for a season – and it was hard.
I’m an academic. I learn well and I study well. I finished high school with flying colours and will be graduating Cum Laude in March. I felt comfortable as a student. I liked the feeling of learning and the sense of pride it gave me.
However, I also knew that spiritual life was suffering. Spending hours each day with my nose buried in a textbook followed by the hours it took for me to process and grasp that information, left little time (and room in my brain) for me to work on spiritual things. I had little desire to read my Bible and my prayer life was virtually non-existent. I knew that I needed to make a change and the only way to do that was to take a break from my studies.
So I quit. I never even checked to see if the application I had sent in November last year was accepted. I closed the door and never looked back.
Nearly two months later, I can tell you that this was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. Yeah, I can see all you feminists out there, rolling your eyes at the woman who chose not to further her education, but let me tell you – I’m happier than I’ve ever been and I am at perfect peace.
And I’ve been reminded of some things. Some important things. Let me share them with you:
1. Following Jesus requires sacrifice
Of course, I’ve always known this to be true. I have made many sacrifices in my Christian walk. But I think that sometimes we become comfortable in our sacrifice. We parent day after day, we tithe month after month, we serve year after year. Before we know it, sacrifice becomes simple routine and we find that we are no longer challenged in our faith.
Laying aside my education meant laying aside a dream. Perhaps only for a season, perhaps forever. It was risky and it was challenging. But is faith without risk faith at all?
2. Our dreams should be laid at the feet of Jesus
It is true that God gives us dreams for our lives. I have no doubt about that. I have dreamed about being a counsellor since I was eleven years old. I believe that it is a God-given desire. However, I have realised that our dreams do not always exactly mirror the Lord’s. Our ideas of what our lives will look like cannot match the beauty of His. His purposes will be fulfilled in HIS way and in HIS timing. We need to realise that sometimes sacrificing a dream is simply giving it to God to mould into what He intends it to be – more beautiful than we could ever imagine. But this takes letting go and entrusting it to the Lord.
3. Experience is just as important as education
I loved studying, but I realise that just because I am not enrolled at a university does not mean that I have to stop learning. Rather, it opens up a whole new range of learning opportunities. Opportunities to learn in different realms and in different ways. Experiencing the world for oneself is just as valuable as learning about it. My education, therefore, has not ceased, but rather my method of study has changed.
So sometimes quitting is good. Sometimes quitting isn’t giving up, but rather closing one chapter and opening another. Before me lies an open book and I can’t wait to see what God writes in it.