New Levels, New Glory
Fun, delightful, unique. God’s breaking you out of comfort. You’ll begin to do things delightful and tasteful to the LORD. I see you as a warrior with a sword. FIGHTER. You’ll be faced with many challenges. but God has given you the necessary tools you’ll need to OVERCOME. New Levels, New Glory. Begin to operate in His will and who He’s called you to be.
Love you, Grace U.”
This is a message from over a year ago given to me by one of my teammates at Bethel Campus Fellowship (BCF) Pulse Conference 2014. As I look at it now, I can see how God allowed what Grace said to come to pass in my life.
My name is Ebun Falade and I am an upcoming freshman at Cornell University. Even today, a few days from moving in, I am in awe that God has blessed me with acceptance. Senior year was one full of insane ambition, followed by insane faith. I chased after God like never before and sought for His guidance every step of the way because I knew that missing His instruction could allow me to spend the next four years of my life in the wrong direction. So when I shot for Cornell, and I shot for becoming a Pediatric Surgeon, I trusted that if it was His will, He will make a way for me.
During the application process, many supported me, while others discouraged me. Some told me I was being risky by not applying to more in state/safe schools and that I should stay in Maryland and save money that’s going to be useful for medical school. All good reasons, I refused to accept simply because God taught me not to settle and to expect more from Him. So I applied without hesitation: I got confirmation from God about my essay topic. I prayed, I fasted, I fellowshipped, but, most importantly, I believed. And on March 13th, I got my acceptance letter into Cornell University.
After acceptance I was still faced with the challenge of figuring out how my tuition was going to be paid. FAFSA is known to be not so generous, and submitting my financial information applications late made me even more concerned, but nevertheless God made a way for me. Just a few days prior to May 1st, I received my financial aid package from Cornell with basically my whole tuition covered with grants and scholarships. It doesn’t end there though; along with my acceptance I was enrolled in a summer program at the school, completely paid for. In this pre-freshman program, I took classes for six weeks and got familiar with campus in order to improve my transition to the school come fall semester. Knowing that Cornell had prestigious academics, I was ready and excited to take on the challenge, or at least I thought I was.
This summer was actually one of the least favorite summers of my life. Yeah I said it. And this was not totally because I couldn’t spend my final summer before college having fun with my friends and family, (I had already come into terms with that when found out about the program in March) it was because my academic performance was severely poor up until the final days of the program. I started off poorly, just as everyone else and for the same exact reason; we’re all straight out of high school. We did not know how to study, work, or manage our time like a college student. However overtime we were expected to gain better study habits, learn exactly how we learn, and efficiently maximize the little time on our hands. All these things I failed to do week after week.
This summer I took Chemistry and Calculus, which were both very difficult courses, and juggling the workload became a major challenge for me. Chemistry usually consumed majority of my day leaving me with little time for calculus. And even when I thought I found some type of a balance my grades reminded me that whatever I was doing was not working. I stayed in the D and E range of my class on the chemistry exams for about four weeks, and I had the lowest and second to lowest scores of my calculus class. These courses were pass/fail, which meant that I needed above a 60 to be considered a pass, and I was not even sure I could obtain that. I was scared that my acceptance could possibly get revoked because of my poor performance, so that anxiety lingered in my mind as I continued throughout the summer. On top of that, I found out my dad was in and out of the hospital back home, and not being able to be there for him for the first time took a great toll of me.
Though I spent the six weeks with about 200 other students, I often felt as though I had no one. My friendships merely touched the surface, and the only people I could really express my frustration to were my friends and family back home. “It’s okay Angela, keeping pushing, God’s is going to work everything out, it’s going to get better” was basically what I was told through every facetime call and text message. But it’s hard hearing that and praying and working harder just to see the same results. It was not getting better. I felt defeated, and for the first time I started questioning if I was even going to be able to handle the rigor of Cornell. But then I texted Olamide, the awesome creator of this blog, and she gave me two pieces of scriptures that I stood on for the rest of my summer journey.
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:7-9 NIV
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”
James 1:4-6 NIV
One of the beautiful things about following Christ is that He believes in us, even when we don’t believe in ourselves. We have to learn to lean on Him and wait on Him when things get tough, because being optimistic isn’t enough, especially not through college. Positivity without faith turns negative quite and fast once we look at our circumstances. If we know God’s promises, if we know His Word, and if we trust in Him, we shouldn't focus on our circumstances no matter how bad they are, but we should focus on His will for our lives.
“.. being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 1:6 NIV
God doesn’t open doors for us just so we can walk right back out of them. If He got us to it, then He will get us through it. We have all the tools that we need, and if we’re in lack of anything, we can simply ask God for it. The end route is success and prosperity in Christ and looking at the bigger picture makes it a little more bearable to through the roller coaster of college.
I asked God for wisdom and He gave it to me during the last week of the program. I realized that I wasn’t spending enough time studying alone; I was always working with peers or teacher’s assistants or professors. I knew the material, but I didn’t know it for myself, and without mastering it by myself I performed poorly on my exams. So during the last week I minimized my group studying and maximized my individual studying. I socialized less, I got better sleep, and I even had a little more time to myself. I got a C on my third chemistry exam and A on my final, boosting my D average in the class to a C, which was amazing for me seeing how I started. Calculus was a different story: my third exam was a twenty point increase from before which was a pretty good improvement. However, to this day I do not know what my final exam grade or my final grade was, I just know I passed... and that’s enough for me.
In the end, some would say I learned how to study like a college student a little too late. But God’s timing is the best timing whether we like it or not. I waited on Him and trusted in Him and finally I saw the fruits of my labor. And I know that if I continue to keep this mindset of faith, God will get me through these four years just as He got me through this summer. With fall semester coming up, upcoming freshman are filled with excitement and nervousness, but this summer has taught me that I CAN and I WILL do this. It may take a while figuring out how, but I am going to walk across the stage in the next four years and move on to another chapter in my life. As God takes me to new levels in life, the enemy is going to attack even harder. As I fight through these trials I will build my faith and endurance in the process, seeing God reveal new glory in my life.
To everyone going back to school, especially rising college freshmen, don’t give up. The transition is not going to be easy; you’re going to have to drop many of your bad high school study habits and take on new ones. The pressure is harder, the competition is stronger, and you’re going to work harder than you’ve ever worked before to get the grades you want. But just remember that you have Christ on your side. If you continue to have faith and persevere then you will be successful. Get ready for your New Levels and New Glory!
My name is Ebunoluwa Angela Falade and I live in Bowie, Maryland. I recently graduated from Flowers High School, and I am now freshman at Cornell University. I have been saved for about 2 years and I'm aspiring pediatric surgeon.