By Staci Stallings
Long before I read Bruce Wilkinson’s “The Prayer of Jabez,” I knew that people were sent into my life for a reason. I had seen too many head-snapping turns lead me right into someone who needed me (and often into someone who I really needed) to believe anything else. A segment of society that my life kept leading me to was teenagers. Many of these posed some of my most incredible “assignments.”
One such young lady was a family member who, from what I saw, worked harder than any single other person I’ve ever met. Although not a natural in schoolwork, she took that fact as a personal challenge. All through high school, she would ask me for help if she ran into an obstacle that even she found daunting. For example, we watched “Hamlet” all day one day because she was studying it and not “getting it.” We read and revised countless papers so they weren’t just good but the best they could be.
Then toward the end of her high school days, our attention turned to college—how she was going to get in, what she was going to take, and most of all, how she was going to pay for it.
Her parents were far from being independently wealthy and with two younger children in the family, were afraid what little money was available might run out long before their daughter got through. So in her senior year, we began working to find scholarships she could apply for online, filling out forms, and reading and re-reading application essays so that she would have the best shot she could get at the money that was available to her.
Not long before graduation, she had an interview for a scholarship—her first formal interview, and she was nervous. One night her mother called me worried about how this interview would go. Because the young lady was going up against students from the more "elite" schools in our district, her mother was particularly worried that her daughter had nothing suitable to wear. Seeing her point, I quickly made the decision that we would just have to do something about that. I called the young lady and offered to take her shopping. We would get a couple of outfits and because I already knew she wanted to do something more sophisticated with her hair, I offered to take her to my salon and have it done, too.
Although it sounds "elegant," it really wasn't that big of a deal. In fact, in all, it wasn't that big of an investment. A hundred or so for the outfits. Thirty or so for the hairstyle. Not a big deal to me, but boy did that investment pay off!
Strangely enough she didn't land that scholarship, but that day gave her a confidence boost that helped her get many more scholarships. True-to-form, she went to the college of her choice, worked her brain to the max, and is now set to graduate with a better-than-3.6 point and a degree in Industrial Engineering, plus she is only one of six students to ever graduate with honors from that program. Not only that, but she has already landed a far-above-average-paying first job and will graduate with no debt. Amazing.
Although I know I will continue to help this young lady when and if I am needed, I realize now that this "assignment" is completed. Peeking over the horizon now are two more—one, to impress upon Assignment One the need for her to find another young woman to "help out" and two… to find a new assignment!
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