Between my college graduation in 2011 and the re-beginning of my pursuit for a master’s degree in 2016 was a post-baccalaureate degree between 2014 and 2016. This however is not how I planned it to be. This is far from the journey I wanted to take. I was redirected.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
– Proverbs 19:21
I have always enjoyed pursuing education – may it be for academic, coaching or personal use. Though not an easy road to take, I have always perceived learning as an investment.
Few trimesters before I graduated college with a degree in Psychology, I was 100% sure that I wanted to pursue a Master’s degree and a career path in the field of human resources. I had a timeline written in a 10-year vision board pinned on my wall headboard. I wanted to finish an MS degree by the time I am 24, and a PhD degree by the time I am 28. My identity back then was also pinned on the things I do and can achieve; not in Christ. So a month before college graduation, even without any professional tenure, my college best friend and I started taking Masteral units in I/O Psychology. At the same time, I pursued an HR track in recruitment for my career.
THE FIRST “NO”.
Unfortunately, because of foolish decisions and miserable circumstances, I failed to finish my MS degree halfway through the journey. I also had to quit my job with unpleasant goodbyes.
- It was during this time that I experienced one of the lowest points in my life. It was also during this time that I accepted Jesus as my Lord and personal Saviour. God’s “No” for me to finish my MS degree and God’s “No” for me to pursue my job had a purpose. He redirected me to a path where I can admit before Him that joy and security can be only found in Him.
Many people got disappointed when they learnt that I did not finish my MS degree. Some of them were surprised while most of them pushed me to enrol again. In my head however it was already a finished story. I still wanted to finish a Master’s degree though, just not from the same university (for practical reasons because I was self-supporting) and not in the same program (for personal reasons).
In 2014, God changed my career path unexpectedly. It was hurtful at first for a period of time. I got rejected from roles related and successive to the HR track I pursued. Instead, I received a job offer for a rank-and-file role in organization development, a track beyond HR which I do not have so much idea about. I started questioning God that time. I wondered why He wanted me to start from scratch at the age of 23. Since I was having a hard time looking for a job in line with recruitment, I held on to my life verse, gulped in my ego and accepted the offer.
- It was during this time that I “accidentally” bumped into Martin (see full story here), got involved in a church family that I have been praying for to have, and started ministry. God’s “No” had a purpose. He redirected me to a path where I can understand and apply the purpose He has for those who believe (Matthew 22:36-40 and Matthew 28:16-20)
Few months after I accepted the offer, my boss told me to consider taking a one year post-baccalaureate program in organization development. She said that it will help me have a clearer understanding of what organization development is. So I looked into the program and considered her recommendation.
THE SECOND “NO”.
In order to complete the program, I have to finish six certification courses. I finished three certifications in half a year – patiently saving up for every enrollment and attending 6-hour classes every week. I was on track to finish it in a year. However, I had problems at work.
I was frequently hospitalized because of acid reflux caused by work stress and pressure from my boss. The intention to perform well at work caused me to not eat on time and to render over time often. I could not prioritize my walk with the Lord because my life revolved around the job I was doing. I had unnecessary absences and emotional breakdowns because of burnout. So after 11 months, I resigned. This resignation also meant that I won’t have any income to save up for enrollment.
Once again, I lost a job. Once again, I lost an opportunity to finish a graduate program. Once again, I started questioning God. I felt like He was punishing me. I was down on my knees, asking Him “Why?” But He would just tell me to trust in Him because He knows what He is doing.
While rendering my resignation, I received a phone call from a friend referring me to work for this ICT company.
NO COINCIDENCES, ALWAYS GOD’S PLAN.
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand”
– John 13:7
I had to undergo two exams and three interviews before a final interview. I had to wait for more than a month for a final interview schedule, and the waiting game was not easy. Little did I know, during my third interview, I was already being assessed if I am more fit for a transactional or transformational role in HR. They decided that I am more fit for a transformational role because of my recent work experience in organization development.
- God’s “No” for a recruitment role a year ago meant that He wants me to be in a more strategic corporate role sometime in the future. He used that rank-and-file job in organization development as a stepping stone for something better.
During the final interview, the big boss delved into my first three certification programs in organization development. Later on, I found out that he is a professor in the school where I took my first three certifications. He is the one handling the post-baccalaureate program in training and development, the neighboring track of organization development. He eventually hired me for a management supervisory role. Praise the Lord indeed.
- Later on, after my regularization in the company, he approved a corporate scholarship so that I can finish my three remaining certifications. God’s “No” for me to finish a post-baccalaureate program in 2015 meant that He wanted me to have a full-scholarship so I can finish it in 2016. His “No” meant that He wanted to provide for me.
- It is in this job that I was able to start ministry with working professionals as well. God’s “No” for me to continue pursuing my previous job had a purpose. He allowed those situations to happen because He wanted me to learn something important about my character, particularly my weaknesses.
After finishing my fourth certification, the pastor of our church family was “coincidentally” hired to become the dean of the graduate school I am in. When he got in, he transformed many of the processes. The one year post-baccalaureate programs became half a year programs.
- I was able to finish my three remaining certifications in three months instead of six months. God’s “No” for me to finish a post-baccalaureate program in 2015 meant that He wanted me to finish efficiently in 2016.
Because of the scholarship, I was able to save ahead in case I plan to pursue a Master’s degree. A few months after I finished my sixth and final certification, I was admitted in UP to pursue a Master’s degree in Communications. God’s timing was perfect.
- God’s “No” for me to finish an MS degree in I/O Psychology meant that He wanted me to take up Development Communications, a degree more successive yet in line with Psychology and Organization Development.
THE BEAUTY OF GOD’S NO.
My initial plan was just to finish a Master’s degree and have a career in human resources. But God had a bigger plan. He wanted me to prioritize my personal relationship with Him, and He has opened many opportunities out of closed doors so I can exercise a more purposeful walk with Him.
God also wanted me to see opportunities as gospel territories and faith challenges instead of looking at it as just a worldly vision board or bucket list.
In 2014, when I was staring blanking at my unfortunate self-inflicted situations, I could not see hope. Three years later, God helped me figure it out. I thought He was punishing me, but He was in control of every single thing. His plans were intended to prosper me and not to harm me; to give me a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
He allowed those situations not to punish me but for me to witness how sovereign and almighty He is. He wanted to lead me and guide me towards His best.
I am not saying that where I am now is perfect. I do not want to lie and say that I no longer struggle. But I am confident that wherever I am now, though I get weary and worried, God is faithful. My flesh and my heart (even my plans) may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:26).
If you feel like God just slammed a big door of “No” to you right now, please say this short prayer:
Heavenly Father, I ask that You place within me your obedient spirit so that I may be obedient to Your instruction. Help me Lord to walk by faith and not by sight. I don’t understand what You’re doing in my life, but I am making a decision to trust You.
In this season, I ask that You place within me Your spirit of joy, peace and rest. Give me joy, peace and rest to endure all that comes my way. Right now, I am making a decision to trust You Lord because I know that You’re in control of my life even when my life seems to be out of control.
Lord, I thank You for clarity, guidance, provision and strength. I pray and ask for these things in Jesus’ Name. Amen.