Dear Ally,

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Being Pulled in Different Directions

Dear Ally,

I have sporadically kept a journal throughout my life. I wish it had been more regular, but sometimes I’m too busy living my life to record it. Anyway, I found my journal from my sophomore year of college, a time when I did write regularly, and was reading entries from January and February 1997 for inspiration. There was some high drama back then!

At that time I had been dating a man who was older than I was. He was already out of college and working as a minister. The “stage of life difference,” along with the fact that he lived over 2 hours away, made things difficult. Even so, we’d been together for almost a year.

I had just been told about a wonderful opportunity for which I could apply that involved doing chemistry research at your former school. The program was 10 weeks long, paid a significant stipend, and provided housing. When I excitedly told my boyfriend about the program, he became upset and proclaimed, “You’re telling me that we have four months together out of the year and you want to take away two of them.” That was not what I was expecting at all. In my mind, if we got married, we’d have our entire lives to spend together, so what was 10 weeks now? This was a highly competitive program that could give me invaluable experience that could lead to acceptance into a good graduate  program or an excellent chemist position. He had envisioned us spending the entire summer together and said, “Do what you have to do.” (In my journal, I wrote, “You bet I will. I may not get another opportunity like this.)

We had another conversation the next day where I was asked what my priorities were and I honestly said that, for now, school and my future career had to come before him.  In my journal, I described this period and these conversations as a tug-of-war for control of my own life.

About a week later, he told me he’d been offered a job out of state. He said that he will go if God leads him, but he doesn’t feel lead yet. The next line in my journal says, “Everything seems to be working out great.” We broke up a month later. There were more issues than what I’m telling you, including a friend of mine that I was in denial about being attracted to, but the part about it being OK for him to take a permanent job out of state, if that was where God wanted him to go, really bugged me. Why was it possible for God to send him out of state and not me? Does God only lead ministers or does God’s direction for my career not matter because I am in a secular field or because I’m a woman? Did he think I didn’t pray for guidance? I felt accused of being so driven for monetary reasons alone, as if my career path was not a calling or life purpose.

Anyway, I’m happy to say that I did get into that research program (of course, you know this because I told you about my summer there). I don’t regret being honest about my priorities. If I had not applied and we stayed together, I may grown to resent him for holding me back. Back then I wasn’t even thinking seriously about grad school. That would have surely put an end to things, considering 10 weeks apart was a travesty and grad school took me over 6 years.

You are probably going to have to make some tough choices in your life at some point, probably sooner rather than later. Do not make your choice solely based on what someone else tells you do to or to avoid disappointing someone else. Do what is best for you and your life goals – with prayerful consideration of course.

Have a great week and happy belated Valentine’s day! 🙂

Aunt Sarah



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