Monica and I after she received her B.S. in Biology Education on May 10, 2017.

I remember the day my younger sister Monica pulled me into the bathroom in my dorm room and broke the news.

“Jess, I can’t keep going like this. I need to go home.” 

I guess I had known that she could not continue meeting the demands of her schedule at college while fighting health issues. I knew something had to give, but did not think it would come to this. After all, she was in the fall semester of her senior year and was getting ready to start her internship. Who can afford to stop school and just leave it all behind this close to the finish line?

Only three years before, Monica had gone to Pensacola Christian College to study Music Education. She worked hard in her classes and excelled in academics as well as in her social life. Going to college in her late 20s was not easy, but she made it work.

Then came her senior year and the decline of her health.

I remember the days she struggled to make it to class. The nights when I worried that she was losing ground physically. When she told me she had leave that evening, I knew that the situation had to be serious if she was thinking of foregoing the accomplishment of her dream.

I watched her leave the fall of 2013. But she did not return that next semester, nor the next. Not until my last semester did she make it back to school. In the meantime, she recovered and then decided to change her major.

Which meant two and a half more years of college.

But learning was in her soul and nothing could dissuade her. She kept fighting and pursuing and this past week, I watched her reach her goal.

Sitting in the balcony of the Crowne Centre at Pensacola Christian College last Wednesday morning, I eagerly waited for her to climb the steps to the stage. When her name was called, I could hardly contain myself. And when the audience cheered for each graduate, I stood. After all, such hard work and determination deserved recognition.

The Commencement ceremony reminded me of a day two years ago when I, too, walked across that stage and received a diploma. Although my path lay along different lines, I knew the overwhelming sense of accomplishment and joy Monica was feeling. She had faced many more battles than me, but she had persevered.

Often in the midst of a struggle we find ourselves enveloped in something too high for us, too elusive, too frightening. We take a few steps and stop. We reconsider and regroup. And then a day comes when we simply must face the battle and fight.

That dream that lies deep inside must be realized, but not only with ease and grace. Sometimes that dream also requires us to sweat, to weep, to struggle. Sometimes God takes us down a different path than the one we planned, like He did with my sister Monica. When the dream is fulfilled, we know a sense of true accomplishment. And that is worth every price we paid.

If you are facing a struggle, do not give up. Accomplishment is just around the corner.


P.S. If you would like to see more pictures of Monica’s special day, visit my Facebook page. And forgive this late post. I was busy celebrating.


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