Two weeks ago I had the opportunity of a lifetime. I was invited to deliver the commencement address for my alma mater, Carver High School. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Carver. I know that it is because of the teachers, administrators, counselors, friends, and any more that poured into my life during my time as a student and even after, that I am the woman that I am today. And as most of you know, not only did I attend Carver as a student, but I spent the first three years of my teaching career there as well. So to be asked to come back in this capacity was nothing short of amazing!
When I received the call that I would be the speaker, I thought to myself, “I can’t go back home empty handed.” So we had the idea to give each of the graduates a signed copy of my book, “I’m T.O.U.G.H.” I contacted my publisher to see what the cost would be and she told me $500.
So I pondered starting a GoFund me page, but then I realized that I know enough Yellow Jackets that would be willing to donate $20 so that we could make this happen. So I got on the phone and started calling people and in less than 24 hours, we had $410 of the $500 that was needed for the books!!!! But God was just getting started! The Lord laid it on my heart to do 3 $250 book scholarships. One would go to a student going to a community college, one to a student going to an HBCU, and one going to student going to a majority university.
I began to reached out via social media to as many people as I knew and in 2 weeks we were able to raise enough to purchase all of the books and “I’m T.O.U.G.H. wristbands, give 3 students a $750 book scholarship, and give each recipient a $100 Visa gift card! A total of over $3300!!! Look at how God worked this thing out!
The night before graduation I was not able to sleep! I was excited, anxious, and believe it or not, a bit nervous. Around 3AM I began to sob profusely. I tried to stop but I couldn’t contain it! As I cried I just kept telling God “THANK YOU!” Now usually when I tell God thank you, it is because of who He is or because of something good that He’s done, but this time was different. This time I had to thank Him for all of the hard times. I told Him thank you for the moments when I didn’t think I was going to make it and I couldn’t see my way through. I thanked Him for the many low places and the disappointments. Because it was on those moments that the woman that stood on that stage was MADE. The woman that I am today could not have been made in a bed of roses. The me who I have become could only be made in the trenches and the valleys of life, under extreme pressure! So I just had to tell Him THANK YOU!
Often times we don’t give hardships the credit that they deserve. Even though it doesn’t seem like it, hard times are one of the greatest gifts ever. I know it’s hard to see it that way, but those hard times authenticate and develop something in us that God can use to enhance His Kingdom and to help somebody, including ourselves. So the next time you are facing a rough patch in life, I encourage you to do like James said, “Count It All Joy!” There is something far greater working IN you than AGAINST you! Enjoy your weekend!