I don’t remember where or when I heard this phrase, but it has always resonated with me during the most random moments.
It’s a strange phrase too.
If God is good, then how on earth can something that’s good not be of God?
Well, here’s how I think of it.
Yesterday as I was driving home from school, I realized that the blog is one year old. I’ve been writing about nonsense, foolishness, and Chi-chi for a whole year. For 365 days I’ve tried to entertain you with my clumsy ramblings through life. Hopefully, I’ve succeeded on that count and that post about peanut butter hasn’t turned you off of this blog forever.
This time last year, I was sitting at my desk, close to tears, completely convinced that I had ruined my life. Why, you ask? Because I had decided not to go to grad school. Yeah, I know that doesn’t seem like the end of the world, but when your dream is to get your Ph.D, teach at the college level, and write an amazing novel, going to grad school is a pretty big step on that path. Choosing not to go felt like kicking my dream in the groin and then giving it a wedgie. I was stealing my dream’s lunch money when I decided to stay in Florida rather than packing my bags and moving to Virginia.
My dream was in agony.
I was in agony.
So if everyone was in agony, why on earth did I decide to stay?
Because going there would have been good, but it wasn’t God.
FAU was the school that had the program I wanted. They had classes I would have killed to take. My back up school had a decent program. They had classes that would have challenged me. Honestly, there was nothing wrong with my back-up school. I have friends that go there and they love it. They wear the sweatshirts and they have the paraphernalia. I probably could have gone to that school and been perfectly happy with my lot in life.
Except that every time I thought I about going I had a panic attack.
Every time I told myself, “Woo hoo, you’re going to grad school!” I had the sudden urge to cry.
I prayed and prayed for God to give me peace about this decision, but that peace never came. I couldn’t sleep, I didn’t want to go running, I even lost interest in cookies and you know how much I heart cookies. My entire being was rebelling against the idea of going to this school.
It was a good school.
They have a decent program.
They place their graduates in great doctoral programs.
What on earth was wrong with me?
Why couldn’t I be content with my decision?
Because my decision was a good decision, but it wasn’t a God decision.
The turning point came when I was sitting at home, trying to read and keep my mind off grad school. My phone rang and when I answered it, my professor’s voice was on the other line.
“So I heard you got into your back-up school?” she said.
“Yeah, I’ll be leaving at the end of July.”
“Oh…well, how do you feel about that?”
“I feel great!” I lied. (I think clumps of my hair may have even been falling out at this point due to stress.)
She was quiet for a minute and then said, “Can I be completely honest with you?”
“I don’t think you should go. This program isn’t the best fit for you and I’m concerned you’ll only end up frustrated and miserable if you go there.”
“…um…yeah, you’re probably right.”
When I got off the phone with her I said, “God, we’re not going to grad school this year, are we?”
And God said, “No, Gyasi. We’re not.”
I wish I could say that the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders at that moment, but it wasn’t. I exchanged one millstone for another. I spent that summer with my sister and Emmalyn eating Malt-o-Meal cereal and watching The View with no pants on. Emmalyn was quite happy with this situation. I was ready to lock myself in the attic and play Bertha Mason for the rest of my life. Kira just wanted us to put on pants.
Physically, I didn’t look that good. I gained 15 pounds, cut all my hair off, and dyed my hair dark brown. (That last decision was a horrific one because highlights looked phenomenal and I have never been able to get them that good since. Yes, I am incredibly vain. ) Spiritually, I was in even worse shape. After making such an agonizing decision, I felt like God had ditched me.
When I prayed, all I could do was ask, “Why?” I knew I loved God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength, but I wanted what I wanted and I wanted it now. I knew He loved me with all His heart, soul, mind, and strength, so I couldn’t understand why I didn’t have what I wanted when I wanted it, especially since I wanted it NOW. I knew that He had me where I was for a reason, but when you’re crawling on your hands and knees, throwing a tantrum of Biblical proportions it’s hard to see the sun. It took a long time for me to stop looking at God and saying, “What the heck? Why am I here?” It took even longer for me to hear Him say, “Would you trust me for once in your life? Stop fighting: it’s going to be ok.”
One day, I started running again. After that I got a decent haircut. Shortly after that, I opened my Bible and stopped treating God like a genie. I stopped expecting Him to magically fix all my problems the second I wanted them fixed and I chose to wait. I decided to stop acting like a child and grow the heck up. I decided to put my faith into action and be still. I chose to know that God is God.
365 days later and I want to fall down on my face and say, “Dear Lord, I am so very sorry.” Because He led me away from the good, because He didn’t give me the peace and contenment that I asked for, because He didn’t leave me or forsake me, I didn’t have to settle for good. I got to live with God instead.
If I had chosen to ignore God and choose the good, I wouldn’t be where I am now. You’re probably saying, “Duh, you’d be in Virginia,” but hear me out. During that year that I spent in chaos, living neither here nor there, I had to trust God more than I’ve ever had to before. I had to give everything over to Him. I had to take my baggage, my anger, my worries, my fears, and my doubts, and hand them over. I had to be still, forsake the good, and accept God. Not to toot my own horn, but choosing God brought me to a much better place.
I got to spend an entire summer with my neice
eating cookies teaching her important life lessons, I got to plan a night of worship at my church, I got to know my church family better, I got a better score on the GRE, I went to Kenya, I got into my dream school, I got a scholarship, I got an even better haircut (Yes! I know! I’m vain), I got to start a blog and entertain people, and I got to rely on God and see a side of Him that I had never known before.
So the next time you have to choose between good and God, do yourself a favor and choose God.