Laci is wanting to learn sign language. When she pulled this book off the shelf, it brought back a host of memories.
It’s just a basic book on American sign language. I bought it at a Brentano’s store in the mall in Little Rock many moons ago. (Yes, I’m showing my age. For you young whippersnappers, Brentano’s is a bookstore.)
You see, I had a plan. Actually, I had many plans. At age eighteen, my plan was to marry the guy I was dating. But when I found out that he was leading a double life in another town, the plan suddenly changed. Mom and Dad said, “Go to college,” which I misunderstood as, “Go look for a man elsewhere”. They even narrowed the field for me: Hyles-Anderson College (HAC) near Chicago or Oklahoma Baptist College in Oklahoma City. I picked HAC because, who would want to live in Oklahoma? (Sorry, Oklahoma! I love you now.) Of course, since I couldn’t cook well, sew at all, or play a single hymn on a piano, what decent Christian man would want me? I could boast the enviable traits of being able to read voraciously, write your term paper for you, organize your sock drawer by color, or discuss politics with you. I wasn’t exactly the Christian-ministry-worker’s dream wife.
As I was thinking about attending HAC, I knew that a ministry job was mandatory. My brother and sister had both graduated from there, as did their spouses, so I was familiar with the rules and regs. I chose the Deaf Ministry. I would LOVE to stand in front of a crowd of people and sign songs and sermons to them! Talking with my hands would be the next best thing to talking with my mouth! That’s when I bought this book. I wanted to get a head start on “the plan”.
But a phone call from a recruiter at HAC changed the plan.
He said some things that set off loud alarms in my head, and even louder ones in my Dad’s head. It was a sign (no pun intended) that maybe Hyles-Anderson wasn’t what we thought it was. We began to wonder if maybe they were man-centered instead of Christ-centered? Recent events regarding that institution have proven this to be the case, but back then, it was just starting to show.
Well, the recruiter got quite angry that I wasn’t agreeing with his statements and hung up on me. Dad spoke with some “senior officials” at the college and the man was told to apologize. He called the next day and actually said the words, “I was told to apologize.” This caused my dad’s frustration to became quite evident. In fact, his exact words were: “You are NOT going to that college.”
But even before that happened, I was hoping I wouldn’t have to go to that college. You see, in the meantime, I had met someone. Someone who didn’t care that I couldn’t play the piano or sew or cook. Someone who liked hearing my ideas, and seeing me smile. Someone who wasn’t perfect and didn’t pretend to be; who made mistakes, and kept going anyway. That person has stayed with me for over eighteen years and has made me the happiest woman in the world.
I didn’t learn sign language. I didn’t get a college degree. I didn’t follow my plan, I followed God’s plan.
And that has made all the difference.