Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I'm Not Who I Was

When I was 17, I packed up my clothes, a stereo, a caboodle full of makeup, a diffuser, and enough Paul Mitchell mousse to keep my hair looking authentically Texan, and my parents drove me to Springfield, Missouri to attend Baptist Bible College.  I did not own a car, and I had not even applied to the college that I was going to be attending.  No joke.  College application seemed like a unnecessary formality, and in this case, it was.  I showed up on campus and was allowed to move in immediately.  My application for admission was approved after I had been attending classes for three solid months.  See?  Just a formality.

I settled right into college life.  I did all of the things that I was supposed to do.  I slept through class, stayed up too late, subsisted on Mountain Dew and pizza, failed exactly one class for not completing every assignment.  Yep.  I was a full-blown college student.  I tried out for cheerleading and was amazed that I made it.  I happily went to practice every day and loved every second of cheering on the Baptist Bible College Patriots.  Other than the one failed class, which I repeated and aced, I was a decent student.  I rarely studied and I always used my maximum number of allowed absences, but I made good enough grades to keep my scholarship and to keep my parents from bringing me back home and grounding me forever.  I got written up.  A lot.  For practicing cheerleading jumps past curfew and wearing my "shorts" too long (they were actually palazzo pants, and I knew I was pushing the "no pants on girls" rule when I wore them) and listening to James Taylor "How Sweet it is to Be Loved By You".  I probably paid more in fines than I did in tuition.  And I dated.  Oh, how I dated.  I had never seen so many Christian boys all in one place.  And I was a flirty friendly girl, probably less threatening than most, and so I was asked out.  And I said yes.  Almost always.  I didn't have too many girlfriends, and to be honest, I probably wasn't nice to most of the girls.  I was young and selfish and self-centered.  Rather than taking the time to ask questions and get to know the girls down the hall, I assumed they were mean and gossipy and I pretended like it didn't matter whether or not I knew them.  I was intimidated by the girly packs they traveled in, and so I covered up my fear by not associating with them.  I had more guy friends than girl friends, and I didn't really care what people thought.  Or at least I thought I didn't care.

My junior year, I was hanging out with a girlfriend, and I could tell something was on her mind.  Then she shared an incredibly unkind name that she had overheard someone calling me.  And apparently, the name had spread.  She had heard it from several different people.  I can't tell you how I cried.  I am not sure how I reacted to her, but I distinctly remember being curled up in my JCPenney quilt on my bed in my dorm room and bawling my eyes out over it.  As much as I thought I didn't care what people thought, I absolutely did.  I traced back the name's origin to two different guys, neither of whom knew me at all.  I will probably never know where it came from.  And it really doesn't matter.  It was never true, the name.  But it did cause me to think.  There were plenty of real live mistakes.  There were lots of unkind things said about others, plenty of wrong relationships, and more than my share of bad decisions. There was a huge pool of giant mistakes that the name callers could have chosen from and been more accurate.  Justified, even.

This past Sunday night I saw one of my favorite Bible college friends.  I met him my freshman year, and our friendship continues to this day, some seventeen years later.  Makes me feel old to say that.  We talked a little bit about our college days, and some of the dumb dating mistakes that we made.  We laughed about our ex's and the ones that got away.  And I walked away smiling about my four years spent in Springfield, Missouri.  Despite my mistakes, I made some wonderful friends.  There are people that I barely knew then that I have reconnected with (and now adore) because of the genius that is Facebook.  I had four years of living and learning and ministering alongside some of the coolest people ever.  Some have grown into writers and musicians and missionaries and mommies, and I love keeping track of them.

Today I am thankful for those college memories but also time and for change and for grace.  I am thankful that God is wise enough to put us through hard things to shape us.  I am thankful that he redeems our mistakes and makes our story a tool to minister to others.  So to those who knew me then, to those that I may have ignored or hurt or gossiped about, those of who you witnessed my mistakes firsthand, I am sorry.  To those who have given me a second chance at friendship, either in real life or through sharing your struggles with me on Facebook or this blog, thanks for understanding that I am a work in progress.


  1. Brandelina JacksonJune 15, 2011 at 10:04 AM

    This blog reminded me of myself. I made terrible mistakes in my past..things that make me cry just thinking about them. You know about the custody issue with my daughter..I feel like a terrible person and terrible mother sometimes for ever being so naive. I have changed a lot but sadly, like you said, people will always remember how they knew you. This includes a judge that I have to go infront of soon. I did party, drink, smoke, do drugs...and I gave it up. I did that a really long time ago actually. Over the past 5 years I have continuously tried to better myself. I'd like to blame it on being in bad environments all the time and not having good role models. Lord please don't let my mother hear that because she will be offended. But its true. I took my parents to church with me as a child, not the other way around. It's taken a lot for me to change. Honestly, when I met you in 2007 I learned what a Christian lady is really supposed to be. Being your friends makes me want to better myself. :)

  2. Girl! We all did stupid stuff back then! Remember, I'm the one that dated the guy 11 years older than me! I look back on those year with joy and pain. SO many good times and just as many bad. But those days made me who I am today, just like they made you. We are blessed to have walked such a road. We are better because of it. I love you and I am so proud of the women you have become. The most important thing is that you allow God to continue to "create" you. Love you!

  3. Jules, I have no idea what name you were called in college, but I remember a very talented young lady who was known for her charisma and energy (and bangle bracelets.) I know we all did dumb things in college (and I really hope none of those stories show up on fb) but I've really enjoyed listening to the Godly woman you've become. Many more blessings to you :)

  4. I ran across this while looking up information about Baptist Bible College! Thanks for this look into college life, makes me excited! Thank you for sharing (:

  5. julie.,you have no idea how similar you and i are!!! i love this blog!!! thank you so much for writing it..its funny that BBC was som of the best AND some of the worst time in my life. God is so good to see our future and know what we need to go through in order to get to where He wants us to be :)



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