When I was a senior in high school, I was dating a boy very seriously.
Well, as serious as you can be when you're 17 years old and still in high school.
He was a couple of years older than me, and already in college. We planned to marry as soon as we could, so naturally I wanted to stay close-to-home for college. Actually, I only remember visiting one college, and that's where I was going to go. Most of my high school friends were going to go there.
I really had no clue about college. My Dad is a college graduate, but my Mom never went. I got very little guidance from them about higher education...goals, possible career goals, etc. None. All I knew is that they wanted me to go to college, and, so, to college I would go!
But my boyfriend and I were having some growing pains, and we broke up. I remember the preacher at my church talking about where he went to school. He had gone to this small, private school in Arkansas. His wife had gone there, her brothers had gone there. It sounded interesting. It had an Indian name: Ouachita.
I honestly do not remember going to check out the school. I need to ask my Dad about it, and see if he remembers. What I DO remember is casually mentioning it to my parents...and then it seemed like my bags were packed and sitting by the door.
I came to Ouachita and I did not know one soul.
I did not know one soul at Ouachita...and I did not know one soul in ARKANSAS (I was living in Oklahoma).
The night before I left, my best friend, Janet, had gotten married, and I was in the wedding. My Mom and other siblings had gone ahead to Ouachita in a separate car. My Dad and I came after the wedding.
I was randomly assigned a roommate. I didn't know anyone, so I guess it wasn't really gonna matter who I lived with. They had me fill out a form with preferences, interests, etc. Being the little wisenheimer that I was, I remember writing on the form under "interests," I love to eat chocolate chip cookies. Because that's important in a roommate, right?
When my Dad and I got to the campus and found my dorm room, my Mom and siblings had been busy fixing it up. My room was in a really old dorm, but I thought it was so pretty. The dorm had these big, white columns out front. It's still there, and it's still my 2nd favorite building on campus. My Mom said there were holes in the wall. I don't remember any of that, because by the time my Dad and I got there, the holes were covered up with posters. My Mom said that if I had seen the condition of the room when she got there, I would've turned around and left.
I don't think so, Mom...it's an 8 1/2 hour drive.
What I DO remember is that we had a corner room on the very top floor of the dorm. On one set of windows, there were three HUGE E's painted in red, oil-based paint. I'm guessing they tried to get them off, but couldn't. Or maybe they didn't even try. I don't know. At the time, I did not know the significance of the EEE's.
The other set of windows looked out over the chapel...and we heard the bells chime on the hour. I LOVED IT.
My Mom had bought a hanging plant and hung it by one of the windows. The plant was called a "wandering jew." My Mom, trying to be funny, had written on the card: "I'm a wandering Jew, but I'll try to be happy at a Baptist University." We didn't know it, but my roommate had come up to the dorm while we were gone. She saw the card and told everyone her roommate was Jewish. Ha.
My Mom and siblings had unpacked all of my clothes and put everything away. I don't remember buying a new comforter for my bed. I may have just brought mine from home...from off my bed.
I know, right?
My Mom said, "your roommate is either very immature...or she's gonna be a whole lotta fun, because she has a Minnie Mouse comforter."
Well, she was a LOT of fun. Her name was Carrie, and she was from a small town just about 15 miles away. She was everything I wasn't: cute, confident, popular, out-going. She drove a cute, little, red convertible, and I loved riding around campus in it with her. She had a horn that played part of a fight song. It.was.cool.
She introduced me to her friends from high school, and I went home and stayed the weekend at her house some. She frowned upon the "pant-suits" my Mom had bought for me to wear to class (I KNOW. IT WAS AWFUL. BLESS MY HEART), and pretty quickly introduced me to jeans, overalls, flannel shirts...and boots (I can never thank her enough for this). She taught me about "cruising," and "hanging out."
She looked past my weirdness and brought me into her life...and made me feel not so alone. And, because of her, I now knew ONE person in Arkansas.
But not for long, because the main thing Carrie did for me is introduce me to Jim. She introduced us sometime during the first couple of weeks of school. Jim and I started hanging out, and we just never looked back.
In thinking about the friends God has provided for me in every season, I can't help but think of Carrie. I mean, I just so "happened" to hear about Ouachita. My church pastor just so "happened" to have gone to college there, and encouraged my parents in this decision. I was randomly assigned a roommate who also put on her roommate application: "I really love eating chocolate chip cookies."
And that roommate introduced me to my husband. My dorm room that was next to the chapel that I loved...I had no idea when I moved in that day, that in 2 short years, I would marry the love of my life in that very chapel. And now we have 4 children, a son-in-law and a daughter-in-law. Our daughter graduated from Ouachita, and now one of our sons, our baby, is going to start there in the Fall.
Coincidence? I think not.
"In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16