“Nope, I’m not going to college.”
When asked about going to college as I got closer to graduating highschool, this was my usual response. A lot of people wanted to know what my plans were for my life and seemed quite interested in my future scholastic intentions. I got a lot of disappointed looks when I answered with a great big resounding NO. My reasons for not going to college caused even more disappointment, but I couldn’t understand, nor did I want to, why.
I proudly explained that going to college wasn’t where I felt God was leading me, and besides, I couldn’t learn anything in college that would help me be a wife and mother. I was so confident in my reasons that I didn’t bother to even consider possible (good) reasons why college would be something to think about. I am only now seeing how robotic my reasons were and how sucked into the quiverfull culture I used to be. I would watch my mom wrestle with all of my siblings and I saw how miserable she was and desperate for company and peer relationships. I knew I didn’t want to become my mom, but I didn’t think I had a choice. One day I was going to get married and start becoming a baby making machine. I was going to have tons of kids, probably watch my body fall apart, and would be stuck at home with a bunch of crazy
monsters kids who would suck my life away. I would then make it to the last child graduating highschool, suddenly left with the stark and despairing knowledge that there was nothing left for my life. All because motherhood is the highest calling for women, and that’s what God wants from us women.
That was my foreseen inheritance, and I was, blindly, willing to walk right into that.
Being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia towards the end of my school years at home was the first major thing that started changing everything. I went from being very active, easily beating my siblings in running races, having no problem keeping up with my schoolwork, to being flat on my back, no energy whatsoever, and I fell behind in school rather quickly. I had to completely relearn how to live and it took a long time before I was able to get through the day without feeling like I had gotten run over by an 18 wheeler. My sole purpose in life became making it through a single day without breaking down, feeling depressed, or frustrated that I couldn’t do simple things like open a door. Even with feeling wiped out physically, emotionally, and mentally every day, I still saw my future holding me becoming baby machine and being stuck at home. With the FM, I felt my chances at college, furthering my education in any way, or even having my own life, was still greatly unrealistic. I didn’t know I had a choice, or that I could have my own opinions. I was still being force-fed the ultra conservative, legalistic ideas that the highest calling of a woman was to stay home, have LOTS of kids, submit quietly and gently to her husband, and never question, never balk at his authority. Although I was force-fed these ideas, I was aware of a little glimmering light at the back of my mind and heart that kept saying I did have a choice. There was a deep part of me that cried out in anger and fought against those ideologies and was not content or comfortable to simply sit back and let that happen to me.
The harder readjusting to life became, the more disillusioned I became at the prospect of my future. I watched my mom get more and more rundown with each passing day, and if that is what it looked like to be the mom of many kids and the wife of a controlling manipulative husband, then I didn’t want that. I didn’t know what I wanted, but I now knew for sure that that was not what I wanted my life to become!
I graduated HS and moved on without another look at college. I knew I wasn’t willing to follow my mom’s footsteps with having so many kids, but I also knew that with how hard it was for me to finish HS because of my health, there was a good chance I wouldn’t be able to handle college. Even though I was now, theoretically, willing to think about college, my health became the reason why I said no. I felt lost, unsure about what my convictions were on college or any sort of furthering of my education. At one point I actually seriously considered taking a college class, but then I got a full time job and I no longer had any time or energy left to deal with more classes or homework.
Then I got married and did the unthinkable! I supported my husband while he was in college and couldn’t get a better job for the first 8 months of our marriage. I wasn’t available to start the big family I was supposed to have which was my highest calling, according to the patriarchal/Quiverfull movement. Instead I was bringing in the big bucks, taking care of others’ kids, and my husband pushed through school. Still I wondered whether or not I regretted not going to college. Yes, at this point, I seriously wondered if I had made a mistake.
But I had no time to really dwell on that potential mistake. I was being run down by a crappy job and as soon as my husband got a significant raise, I quit and came home where I have been for most of the past year. Only in the past 6 months have I really thought about my reasons for avoiding college and also with regards to what my highest calling in life was. And I have reached some very revealing conclusions.
Being a mother and being a submissive wife is NOT my highest calling, and never will be. My goal in life is not to blindly submit to my husband, but instead to serve along side of him as equals and to enjoy fellowship with him as we live life. Becoming a baby making machine and popping out child after child until I rip my body to shreds is something I will never do either. My life’s joys, loves, wonders are not founded in or conditional on whether or not I’m married or have born children yet. This life of mine before kids come along is becoming absolutely amazing! I am thoroughly enjoying life, and I feel no lack in my spirit. When God sends a baby, then He sends a baby, but I am not going to base my whole being on waiting for that child. There are several checks in the deepest corners of my heart about wanting to have a baby, and I’m not 100% I really am ready to become a mother. I still carry a bitter taste from watching my mom with my many siblings. My worst nightmare is to become my mother and be trapped at home frustrated with my life raising kids. The other side is that I know children are a good thing, and I also have the freedom to change how my husband and I raise ours. I do want a baby because they are precious and I do want that blessed responsibility of raising a new life. But I don’t know if I am truly ready. And the best thing is that is completely okay. My highest calling is enjoying God and glorifying Him.
I believe I need more time to figure out my thoughts about college. I’m not ready to admit I want to take a few classes, but nor am I ready to admit that I never will. I’m sitting for awhile on the fence, watching and learning from others’ opinions. It is with cautiousness that I am expanding my views on college and finding those little compartments in my heart where I’ve truly desired to do more with my life. I can say this with confidence though; I truly regret not taking more writing classes, or taking the classes I did take more seriously. I am finding my writing here, and on other blogs I have, to be a bit rusty and lacking. But I am rediscovering the art of the imagination and finding my voice once again.
So I really don’t know where I stand on taking classes or pursuing some sort of degree. It’s still a work in progress for me, and I have yet to reach a solid conclusion. I can, although, confidently say that I do not want to watch my last child head out the door to college and have forgotten what it means to live my own life. I really want to make sure that there is still something of me left, and something of me that still has life left in it.
With that in mind, and without further ado,