Be Thankful When Life Meanders

When I was a little girl, I had many plans regarding who I would be and what I would become in life. But, often the plans we make in life simply don’t end up being the life that we lead.  Some people have told me that they were exactly where they had planned to be and that their lives had followed the expected path.

I envy them, somewhat, but not completely. Yes, it would be good if life happens the way we dream it will, but, I am thankful for my life meanders, meaning I thank God for the twists, turns, and bends of my life. I did not become who or what I thought I would be for a long time, but who I am now is so much better than whom I would be if I have been left to my own decision-making ideas.

As a child, I wanted to be many things, for I was a voracious reader. Nearly every occupation sounded good, from astronaut to ballet dancer to doctor. I dreamed of being them all; sometimes all at the same time! I thought that my life would be similar to everyone born in my cohort of Baby Boomers: kindergarten, elementary school, junior high, senior high, SAT’s and college, marriage, children, work (not career), and life ever after.

I add work because as a black woman, I never really entertained the thought that I would be a stay-at-home mom. That life trajectory only occurred on television, for the  June Cleavers and Harriett Nelsons, but not for the countless black women in my neighborhood who had to work to help provide for their families.

I only knew one person in my neighborhood whose mother did not work outside the home, but she seemed to work just as much as the women who worked outside of the home. For women in each category, they worked from sunup to sundown, and none of the women considered themselves in a career. Women had jobs; men had careers. So, I expected life to follow a straight line from point A to point B.

I was in the fourth grade when I started to dream of who I was going to be and what my work would be. On a field trip to Tennessee State University in Nashville, I saw young people in college. They walked across the quad with their many books, all looking so intelligent and cool, and I thought that I could not wait to go to college!

But what really caught my attention were the professors, dressed in long black robes that billowed out behind them in the wind, making them look like they were flying. For the first time outside of church, I heard black women and men addressed with respect, called Dr. So and So, and I thought that they must be the smartest people in the world. The magnitude of the knowledge they must have, their access to LOTS of books, and the level of respect they received made being a college professor the ideal job, to me. So, right there on the quad, I decided to become a college professor, teaching people everything I knew.

But, in high school, I was not offered the opportunity to take the SATs. The school counselor did not recommend that I take them, mainly, I believe, because we were so poor that she assumed that Mama could not afford them or she thought that I was not going to achieve much above my parents. Whatever the reason, that meant that I was not going to college at Tennessee State University. So, I just figured that I would never be a college professor, but the dream would not die.

Instead of becoming a college professor by age 30, I became a mother at ages 21 and 24. Three years after adopting my four children, I went to work for the telephone company in Atlanta, thanks to the Affirmative Action, and I worked for Ma Bell for 23 years until my job in Internet Technology was outsourced eventually to India.

I am not complaining, believe me, for that job allowed me to give my children a solid middle-class life, something I truly wanted for them. It wasn’t the life I envisioned, but it was a good life, and, praise God, working for the telephone company allowed me to go to college, with the company paying for the tuition and books. Because I was age 36 when I started college and attended a public school that, basically, accepted everyone who applied, I did not need to take the SATs. For nine years, I worked towards a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, graduating at age 46.

The month after I earned my first degree, we learned that my job was being outsourced, a time of tremendous stress. I panicked for one or two weeks, and then God laid on my heart, “Now is the time to go to college full-time and prepare to fulfill your dream.” When I walked around smiling while everyone else was sad, they thought I was a little crazy,  especially because I had the opportunity to go to another job in the company which meant that I would continue to earn a great salary. To give that up to go to college seemed to my colleagues that I had lost my mind. But, I trusted God.

I learned from this meander in my life that truly when one door closes, you need to start looking for another open door, rather than sitting around in a prolonged pity-party.  For me, each ending has been the catalyst for a new chapter in my life, not the end of the book. Although the journey has not been straight, it has led me to unexpected pleasures and the opportunity to meet people who have enhanced my life tremendously, folks who have helped me become whom God called me to be that day on the quad.

I applied for graduate school, and was given the opportunity to conduct research with a couple of professors, which meant that my tuition and books would be paid for by the university, and I earned a stipend each month. I went from earning nearly $50,000 a year to earning $18,000 a year, and I never missed a meal, praise God! When I completed my Master’s degree, the chairman of the department told me that if I would like to earn my doctorate, I could stay there as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, and the university would pay my tuition and books and give me a stipend for teaching. He did not have to ask twice! I never paid tuition for any of my three degrees! Ain’t God good!

In the Fall semester of 2000, I walked to the front of the classroom, and said to the students, “I am Regina Davis, and I am your teacher for this semester!” What a moment! After my first lecture, I danced down the hallways, smiling for all that I was worth. That little black girl from a poor neighborhood who many did not think would amount to much more than her parents who were both high school dropouts, finally had her dream come true. I was a college professor, and I LOVED IT!

For the next 17 tears, I taught some of the brightest, most amazing students. I considered it an honor when a  student chose to take one of my classes. I never took the fulfillment of my dream for granted. Thankfully, the wearing of robes for college professors ended before I became one, but the joy of inspiring, encouraging, exhorting, and helping students to fulfill their dreams has been one of the greatest gifts that God has given me.

Deciding to retire to travel and discover the next adventure and job that God has deemed for me was so difficult, because teaching is one of the loves of my life, but now, I will do it in other ways, including this blog. I am excited to see who and what I will be when I “grow up.”

So, do not worry if your life seems to get off-track, because the detours, the life meanders that you experience in your journey, just may take you where God had already deemed you needed to be. Don’t give up on your dreams, for if God placed the passion for it in your heart, He will being you to it, for Jeremiah 29:11 states,  “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

That same promise is made to you today. I believe that He planted the seed of my dream to be a college professor when I was nine years old, because that was His plan for my life and for how I would touch the lives of people and make a difference in this world. That was my calling from the beginning, and, through the many twists, turns, and bends along the way, God provided the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding that I needed to be the best college professor that I could be.

What I learned as a mother, an employee in corporate America, as a survivor of domestic violence, and in all the other roles I played before I became a professor were the very things I needed to help my students to be their best. So, when it seems as if your life is going in directions that you had not planned, say, “Thank You, Lord!” and put your trust in God to lead you according to His plan, and not by yours. We look at the present situation, but God sees the future.

 

 

 

 

17 thoughts on “Be Thankful When Life Meanders

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    1. Thank you so much. I am just an ordinary person with an extraordinary God. I just want to share His work in my life so others are encouraged to trust in Him and His Son Jesus, to hopefully minimize the pain that others experience on their journey.

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  1. Dr. Davis,

    Not sure just why I feel I should share this with you, but I do. This little thought came to me quite a few years ago.

    Jesus Christ – The Greatest Telecommunications CEO Ever!

    Jesus spread the greatest message to ever hit the world with:

    • One pole that He set up on a hill called Calvary.

    • He employed twelve linemen to spread that message over the entire world.

    • The service was free for everyone who would receive it. It cost Him everything, even His life. Today there are approximately 2.2 billion customers in the world.

    • You can call Him anytime, from anywhere, and He will answer you (How’s that for customer service?).

    • What was His message – Love. Who doesn’t need to hear about that?

    I’m telling you about this because you spoke of working for the phone company and how God uses things that we don’t quite understand to lead us to other things, as we meander through life. Perhaps now that He has blessed you with your dreams, He would like you to return to working for the phone company. His phone company. He’s already trained you, given you a heart for His message, and set you up with a branch of your own (your blog). Welcome to JesusCommunications!

    Regina,

    Hope you don’t mind this comment. Take it for what it’s worth. This just crossed my mind and seemed to be for you.

    May you always find yourself…In His Embrace.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fantastic. I want so much to be in His employ, used for His glory. For an old telephone person, this is priceless. I will have to share it with some of my old colleagues. I cannot tell you in a few words what this comment means to me. To know that people can read what you write and be touched by it is an awesome gift. This blog is specifically to do His will. I often say after I read one of my blogs, “Well done, Holy Spirit. It was you , not me.” Thank you so much, and may God continue to use you to bless others like me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing your story. I’ve wondered if the meandering we do through life is God’s way of rerouting us when we are headed for dangers that we can’t see. I think flexability and being quick to adapt are two qualities we have that the devil doesn’t have. Life never goes as planned by anyone but in Christ we can be sure that life will go according to God’s plan!

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  3. What a beautiful and inspiring story and you quoted my favorite scripture verse (Jeremiah 29:11). It is the detours and the meanderings which shape us. And God’s timing is always perfect. You became a teacher when you were supposed to. It breaks my heart when some teachers or guidance counselors try to discourage children from pursuing a higher education because of poverty or color. But, with God ALL things are possible. My husband and I encourage our nine year old son to believe that he could be a doctor or scientist or whatever he chooses to be with God’s help and hard work. Thanks for sharing your story! God bless!

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