By Frances George
I have three children. One went to university in New York City. Mary Scott, our second, is a Baylor alumna, Class of 2016 and thriving in Dallas. Our youngest, Catherine, is finishing her freshman first semester at Baylor, Class of 2020.
If you have multiple children, you know how each child has individual strengths and individual struggles. Our family is no different. Whereas school came rather easily and with success for our oldest two, our youngest had to work extra hard for every grade. She reached each goal but with much labor. From time to time, there would be the discouraging query to me, “Mom, why did God make me the way He did?” (Meaning, “Why was it all so easy for Benjamin and Mary Scott?”) She was the hardest worker of the three and yet from time to time would grow weary in ‘doing good’…
As college options happily came to Catherine from across the state and nation during her senior year in high school, Catherine felt God very specifically calling her to Baylor and her admission in early December on her Baylor portal reading “YOU’RE ACCEPTED!” was the single happiest moment of her senior year and the best Christmas present ever!
Going to Baylor, we knew would be an academic challenge, as Baylor is a top tier academic university and the Class of 2020 was on track to be not only the largest incoming freshman class but also the brightest in the school’s history. But Catherine was determined that Baylor would be her school!
Hard work does not begin to describe Catherine’s first semester. Many late nights, many meetings with professors, academic advisors, taking advantage of the writing center and helpful teaching assistants, along with learning how to “do” college through networking with new friends, peer mentorships with Catherine’s older sister’s friends still at Baylor working on advanced degrees… it was a semester that challenged Catherine on every level. All the while, Catherine’s older sister was a great cheerleader from Dallas and their relationship strengthened as only happens through sharing college life, past and present. Catherine’s church was a highlight of every week and provided the much-needed perspective and challenge to keep her focus upward and to trust God and work hard!
Catherine charged ahead in her classes and found success but as is the usual course of things in college freshman year, one class was particularly difficult. Through tireless perseverance and an exceptionally encouraging TA, Catherine found herself facing the final test before final exams. To say it was a very significant test is an understatement. Study, eat, sleep, study, eat, sleep, study, study, study…Then, The Test.
Early this morning, a text came in from Catherine to her older sister, Mary Scott, and to me… “Do you want to know my final grade in the class?”
After seeing the (happy) grade, I got down on my knees and began to pray silently in my mind, “Thank You, Lord.” And then, since my nest is empty and my audible prayers wouldn’t bother anyone in the house, I prayed out loud and said, “Thank you God, for making Catherine the way you did,” (recalling as I prayed, her perseverance, her complete confidence in knowing God had called her to Baylor, her great anticipation for how she will be involved in Baylor life and give back to Baylor… “I know God has me here for a purpose.”). Suddenly it was as if I heard God saying to me, “Fran, did you hear your own words? Remember the words Catherine spoke from time to time as a child, struggling in school, “Why did God make me the way He did?” Now you are saying the same words but through My prism, “Thank You God, for making Catherine the way You did”.
I learned a very important lesson this morning: God made Catherine the way He did to show that His plan is higher than mine. And then a secondary but equally significant realization hit me: God made Catherine for Baylor and Baylor for Catherine. All that she has worked her entire life for is coming to fruition on this campus. Catherine’s gentle spirit and loving heart is reflected in her baskets of candy placed outside her dorm room door, to encourage the girls in Collins Hall as they go about their everyday college life, or her basket of thanks, also beside her door with little pieces of paper and pen for the girls of Collins to write down the things for which they are thankful. It is the way God made Catherine. And now it is a blessing to many… her purpose. Catherine’s beautiful and kind roommate who writes her notes on hard days (a roomie she only met this summer), her thoughtful hall mates on “The Collins Cul-de-sac” as they call their totally decked out for every holiday end of the hall, her CL who drove Catherine to the airport in Dallas for Thanksgiving… a 7 hour completely out of her way trip, her professors’ emails of encouragement to Catherine – yes, Baylor professors write encouraging notes to their students! – a campus now decked out in full Christmas attire and an upcoming Christmas choral concert, all celebrating unashamedly the birth of Christ… All of this and more, has made for a more than successful first semester on every level. “The Test” was just one of many freshman year tangible rewards for diligence and hard work appreciated and recognized at Baylor. Baylor, as it did for our elder daughter, is shaping the life of our youngest in a most meaningful manner and celebrating the way God created her in unique fashion, all leading to an incredible future at Baylor and in life. The world may spell SUCCESS in different ways. But today, I spell not only success but also joy and confidence:
And that’s the Baylor difference.