Back in the fall of 2014 when my daughter Elizabeth was applying to college, she sent only one application to Columbia University because it has a great International Relations program, it’s in New York City, which she loves, and has a comprehensive focus on global studies, a field that interests her tremendously. So off went her early decision application and there was no doubt in my mind that Columbia would be lucky to have my daughter; however, she received a rejection letter instead of the acceptance we had been eagerly awaiting. She shed a tear or two, we held hands and prayed together and the words that followed surprised me, “Mom, this just means that’s not where God wants me.” I marveled at her maturity and resolve to keep trusting God in the middle of such disappointment. Taking into account that children take their parents’ lead, I put my brave face on and said, “Well, I wouldn’t want you to be successful at the wrong college now would I?” We both burst out laughing because we have mastered the art of laughing at adversity.
We knew the road ahead would be treacherous. Elizabeth had put “all her eggs in one basket” as one friend had cautioned and now she had to go through the whole process of applying to college all over again (now with only two weeks left), writing and re-writing essays, supplements and going to more interviews. Anyone who has gone through this knows the kind of a headache it is. But I am so proud of her for keeping her eyes on Jesus and putting Him in the center of the process.
She then did something kids her age seldom do. She posted her rejection letter on Instagram and wrote,
“Usually people share pictures of acceptance letters, degrees, awards, & certificates… But rarely does one see a rejection letter. So I thought I’d share one with you along with some heartfelt thoughts… 12.11.14, 5 pm. I have faith that an acceptance letter will be posted on my Columbia account but at 5:06 pm I read these words. Human nature– I shed a tear because I have been believing for this for a LONG time. With faith, I’ve fought through the critic battlefield where constant opinions were given and suggestions were made such as, “Applying to one school is silly…especially an IVY. You should try something more realistic.” The truth is, you and I live in a world that is SO numb to reality; the reality of War, Hunger, Brokenness, Feelings, and the reality of Christ in the here and now. I appreciate every word and piece of advice that is given to me, but I don’t see the reason in having to always “play it safe.” Why not have faith towards bold dreams? It is impossible to please God without faith– the evidence of that which we do not see yet. So in humbleness and confidence in Christ, I applied….and I was denied. But the good news to this story is that I have come out stronger. There is a peace that I feel because I know that no man can thwart God’s Will and if His Will was for me to receive a “No,” then I will trust and obey…because there is no other way to be happier in Jesus. 😊
Today, I pray that your strength and hope won’t fail. So many things are fighting for our attention and it takes one lie to convince you and me that we are not good enough. But Christ is enough and He says you and I are AWESOME in Him!!!
We have many plans, the Bible says, but it’s the LORD’S Will that prevails. When your dreams don’t turn out, develop the muscle that praises God in the midst of rejection and denial. With your consent and total dependence, God will lead you in His perfect direction. Just keep moving forward with Him. You were born to be a world changer… Don’t let anything convince you otherwise.
I was floored and my heart was full of joy. Parents came up to me and told me how they had read the post and cried and prayed for her, how she had encouraged their children and how extremely proud they were of the way she had handled the situation. That was the grace of God, His ability, working through her to re-assure her that He had this whole thing under control. She sent 10 applications out to: Georgetown University, George Washington University, Washington College, Johns Hopkins University, New York University, American University, Harvard University, Boston University, Northeastern University and Princeton University. After ALLLLL that, our prayer was simple: That God would open doors no man can close and close the ones no man can open. We didn’t want to play any guessing games. “Make it plain and clear Lord,” was our cry.
More rejections, three acceptances, not to her top schools, but still, we believed. A few people we love and respect suggested that she take a gap year citing that they were the voice of reason and that the data showed that since she had been rejected from ‘target’ and ‘safety’ schools, the ‘reach’ aka IVY leagues would not accept her. To one person I said, “We have chosen to believe the voice of truth, and that the voice of truth tells us she will get into a great school.” Sometimes when you are standing on faith, it will look like craziness to some people. It will look ludicrous and just plain silly. And in that moment you have a choice. You have a choice to keep trusting God when things look bleak, or to give in to the voices around you. You have a choice whose voice you WILL believe.
I am happy to say that it pays great dividends to believe in God, in His promises and in His plan for your life. On March 30th, 2015, we learned that Elizabeth was accepted to Georgetown University. She received a full scholarship for Georgetown’s Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS). Her scholarship came with the prestigious 1789 Scholarship, in honor of the year Georgetown was founded, whose membership awards her blessings upon blessings…some of which we are still wrapping our heads around. The following day, she was wait-listed to Princeton University. Our hearts were full and she was proud to say that she would be attending Georgetown University. George Washington University accepted her as well with a generous scholarship. Two other acceptance letters followed. She wrote to each school that accepted her to thank them for their time, consideration, acceptance, and scholarships. I’m sharing our testimony to say that God opens doors no man can close and His plan for your children’s lives will prevail.
A week ago, at the Georgetown University President’s Event for Reunion Weekend, Elizabeth, who is now a junior in the SFS, had the awesome privilege of speaking to Georgetown Alumni about her incredible experience at Georgetown and how their continued engagement and giving paves the way for students such as herself. In Gaston Hall, which was filled with kind, passionate, and notable alumni and their spouses, including former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, she spoke of the blessing it is to be a student on the Hilltop. We were reminded of the scripture in Proverbs that says your gift will make room for you and bring you before great men. One such great man is President John Degioia. Thank you, President DeGioia, for your exemplary leadership! Ours was an improbable dream, but God. We are extremely grateful for you and for the Georgetown Alumni who continually look back to invest in students like my Elizabeth, enabling them to look forward to a future filled with limitless possibilities. What a blessing! Thank You.