Where to even begin…
This Friday I put up a Facebook status asking folks to pray while we were deciphering the last deciding elements about our pursuits of the Hallmark Institute of Photography. I was encouraged by the number of people who commented and obviously care about our plight, but more than the comments of “go!” I really was looking for prayers to help us find clarity in deciding and peace in our hearts no matter what we settled on. Friday and Saturday I scoured the numbers, ran estimates and considered the possibilities. All weekend, in every solitary moment walking to-and-fro, standing in elevators, or even going to the bathroom, I prayed also to be willing to acknowledge our answer, whether “yay” or “nay”. Thanks to those who rallied in prayer for us to reach our answer.
From the beginning, I knew that I have been closely committed to going. Heck, I moved us out of our apartment, sold or gave away an immense amount of our worldly goods and generally set my shoulder to the proverbial plow. In my mind, I had to be intense order to even possibly consider going… School had been a late-spring decision, and of course I needed to manifest the $60,000 tuition/fees, not to mention the living costs of attending within the next 3 months. Because of my all-out involvement I knew I required someone outside of my circumstances to help counsel me in the decision.
Fortunately, many years back, I was blessed to find mentors in my life who had results that I could look up to: great and growing relationships, compassion and love, servant hearts, financial independence, emotional intelligence, and a burning passion to help others. Interestingly, while I believe our meeting and connection was divinely inspired, I can be unruly and obstinate in nature. Since putting them in that mentor role, there have been countless times I’ve circumvented their opinion and advice in my decisions. This one was different though… I’m now married. I’m still learning to be a man and a husband. In this case, because my actions impact more than just myself, I knew that I couldn’t in good conscience abstain from hearing them out about my latest fancy.
In submitting my conundrum to these counselors, they, in true “it’s your choice, Cody” style, helped me see some of the jagged edges of my plans with ample opportunity for me to choose my own way. I wanted to pursue school for a variety of reasons, all valid, all “good”, but hardly any were in line with what Heather and I believe to be our purpose in life: to be financially independent in order to live a great life serving others to our fullest capacity. Because of their ability to see my circumstances from a slightly removed yet involved vantage point, I was able to see that at this point, Hallmark is primarily a selfish individual pursuit.
Thus, the final answer: Not To Go.
I gather that there are things we all hide from. Some wear elaborate masks while others run from activity to activity in order to avoid looking in the mirror and dealing with the deeper issues. I have been running from something for many years, and while I have certainly made much progress in my adult years, I’m not done fighting the dragons yet. As I turn to face the monster, it’s best that I do so from familiar ground; it’s obvious to me that if I chose to pursue something else even while bolstering my strengths, I’m still avoiding those weaknesses and of course I will still be part of the equation which has been imbalanced in the first place. To never address it is to never break through to live an amazing life serving others.
Yes, school would be fun. Yes, it’s something I could pay for without debt (and for that I’m especially proud). However, in the final analysis, it really has minimal reward for our family, both nuclear and extended. I believe that going to school at this point would be, in part, for me, a step towards cowardliness. It would, at this point, distract from our mission rather than contribute to it. I’m excited for Hallmark, but I realize that my efforts are almost wholly selfish.
It’s still likely that I’ll attend Hallmark; what better way to pursue school than as financially independent young adults who are excited about a new adventure, but have the passive income to have the comfort of knowing that our future and family are well taken care of and that it’s not some type of selfish risk, but instead a reward for being selfless and serving others.
To those who are our friends, thank you for trusting us in our decision and coming along side and offering a hug, or even better a linked arm while we pursue something greater than ourselves.