Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lenten Project: Day Thirty-six


I graduated from Bob Jones University on May 7th, 2005. I'd worked so hard to get to that point, and I don't mean academically. The spiritual abuse I'd suffered while living in the campus dormitories had squashed my faith, nearly killed my hope, and half-convinced me there is no god. Yet, even so, BJU was comforting in its familiarity.

My fiancĂ© had nixed my fantasy of living on my own abroad for a year before getting married, so I agreed we'd get married sooner (a week after graduation), and I needed a job. I figured, BJU had trained me and molded me, and the plea for students to "donate" a few years of their lives to the school that had sacrificed so much for them went out often from the chapel pulpit, so I'd at least be a shoe-in for some job on campus. I checked first with my student job's supervisors--sure enough, they encouraged me to submit my application and assured me they wanted and liked me. 

I applied. And was turned down. I had the jarring realization that BJU molding me into a caricature of myself still didn't make me good enough for them. And I knew that was wrong. So I fought. I met with the deans and tried to find out exactly why my application for employment had been rejected. I knew it wasn't just because they didn't have any positions open; it had to be some kind of character flaw or defect they held against me.  And if, after all that time being counseled, I still had character flaws, well, then, something needed to be done, right?

The dean of students told me unashamedly that it had been his recommendation that I be spurned, even though he personally knew me and had been following my journey through BJU since I arrived. 

He even came backstage and posed with me
for pictures before my opera performance!

When I asked him if there was anything I could do to get him to reconsider, he said I could write a letter explaining my position and he'd bring it before council. 

I slaved over that letter, pouring out what was left of my heart, begging the council (but really the dean of students) to see that the spiritual counseling they'd required had worked and I was a better person now. The dean of women told me she'd been led to believe (by the dean of students) that I wouldn't turn people in, since I never had as a student. A faculty/staff member is vital to keeping up the standards of the school by ensuring everyone is following the rules, she said. I turned two people in that week, to prove I didn't have too compassionate a heart and would make a good strict rule-abiding staff member. One of the people I tattled on ended up getting socialled and not allowed to speak to her own fiancĂ©. Never more had I regretted my foolish attempts to prove my worthiness than then. 

I got the word that my letter had been well-received by the council, the dean of students had been overruled, and I could have a job at Bob Jones University.  I would remain in my department, but become a staff member instead of student worker.

This medallion indicated that I was
a second generation BJU graduate

So on graduation day, I walked into the Founder's Memorial Amphitorium relieved that my plans were working out and that God could still use me, even though I was pretty battered and barely believed in him. I claimed, "all things work together for good" for myself as evidence that God wanted me to serve him at BJU, because, obviously, the obstacles had been overcome.  It never crossed my mind that maybe God could or would use me anywhere else, because the sacrifice of BJU faculty and staff was always touted from the chapel pulpit as being one of the highest callings a Christian could have.  What other humble service could I possibly have wanted to dedicate my life to?