From my freshman year of high school, I had my college plans laid out. I was going to go to a big state university, join their cheer team, get my bachelor’s degree in pre-law, and then move on to law school. To me, everything seemed like a picture-perfect plan. However, in my junior and senior years of high school, I watched as this dream slowly deteriorated before my eyes.
My First Time at College
You see, I had grown up in a toxic and abusive environment that led me to develop numerous issues throughout high school that included anorexia, over-exercise, and self-harm. By the time my senior year of competitive cheerleading came around, I was underweight, had multiple stress fractures in my left leg/foot, was completely exhausted, and could no longer handle life as a student and an athlete. I was forced to quit, which caused me to fall deeper into a depressive cycle of self-destruction.
I ended up attending a local community college and completed three semesters there, but my issues kept getting worse, and I had many people from church concerned about my safety. Considering that I had already given up most of my dream to be a college athlete at a university and attend law school, the last thing that I wanted to do was drop out of community college to attend some kind of a treatment program. However, I didn’t know how much longer I could hold on without it. I was miserable and defeated, just going through the motions of trying to appear “successful.”
Eventually, I came to terms with the fact that if I continued to stay in this miserable cycle of depression and self-destruction, then my life would not be worth living. God didn’t want me to simply get by; He wanted me to enjoy life and be passionate about the things I was doing. So, in March of 2016, I stepped out in faith and made the tough decision to temporarily leave college mid-semester to attend the Mercy Multiplied program.
My Time at Mercy
It was at Mercy that I began to dream again. I remember an event at Mercy, “In His Wakes,” where I had the opportunity to water ski and kneeboard for the first time. I picked up on it pretty quickly, and one of the event staff told me that I seemed like I could be a college athlete. At first, I took that as a little bit of a slap in the face; in my head, my chances of that were clearly over. I thought I had already ruined everything! Then I felt God tell me that it’s okay to dream again; it’s not too late. He said I would never know what I was capable of if I didn’t try. I began praying for direction and guidance on where to go.
Now, six years after having my dreams shattered (so I thought), I have found myself as a recent graduate from a small, private, Christian school where I received a double major in social science and biblical studies and a minor in youth ministry. I will even get to attend graduate school in the fall. On top of completing my studies, I also was granted the opportunity to fulfill my dream of becoming a college athlete in not only cheerleading but cross country and track as well! I thrived on being a multiple-sport athlete in college. It was an amazing opportunity that I never even thought possible. God did more than I ever imagined.
God’s Perfect Plan
Going back to school was not an easy feat, but God provided me with amazing support through my university’s coaches, teammates, trainers, and other faculty. The struggles in life do not just miraculously go away ever (even after graduating from Mercy hardships came) but being surrounded by people who could point me in the right direction and help me implement the lessons and principles of freedom that I gained at Mercy made all the difference.
Overall, being “derailed” from my picturesque college plan and taking that season to focus on myself was the best decision I could have made. Through the detour, I gained a family that loves me and a community that wants to see me succeed. I rebuilt my life into something purposeful. God had more for my life planned than I did, I just couldn’t see it at first, and that’s the thing about stepping out in faith, we don’t always get to see what is coming, we just have to trust that God knows what He is doing (Hebrews 11:1).
God not only redeemed and restored what I thought I lost through my gap year, but He multiplied it!
Mercy Multiplied is a free-of-charge residential counseling program that helps young women ages 13-32 break free from life-controlling issues and situations. Apply today or learn more about how Mercy can help you.
For resources on identifying life-controlling issues, visit our signs and symptoms page. You can also listen to our MercyTalk podcast episode Misunderstanding and Stigmas Surrounding Mental Health for more empowering content. Follow us @MercyMultiplied on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay updated with us!