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Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Homeless Graduate...My Journey to Liberty University Class of 2012: 23 days to go

Good morning gang. 23 days! Actually it's 20. Because three weeks from today I will leave for Lynchburg with my daughter. I want to get there a day ahead of time and check into the motel and relax a bit. Friday starts the festivities and I don't want to miss anything. I plan on stopping by the LUOnline offices and meeting some of the people who have been so helpful to me as I completed this degree. They are a great bunch and I am looking forward to putting some faces with names.
There is a reception for online students and some other cool stuff and then Baccalaureate is that evening.
So I really have three weeks to go. That makes me nervous of course because this math class is still kicking my butt. Three weeks of this insane pace is what scares me the most. If you've ever had vertigo for an extended period of time you understand my plight. If you've ever had motion sickness or "bed spins" imagine that unabated for weeks. That's pretty much my life right now.
So anyway...4:30 I was up and at 'em. You know the routine if you've been following along. Coffee, water, vitamins, Meclazine, schoolwork until I leave for my job.
That's my life and it's monotonous and sardonically boring. But I love learning. I can't wait to start my Masters this fall...or another bachelors. Or maybe both.
The sort of bittersweet thing is that any future degree won't be as special as this one...the first one. I know I fought for every square inch of this against great odds...but even if I had been handed the money on a silver platter and got the degree four years after graduating high school without the struggle I had to endure...this would be the most special. After this it will be more education but not something epic. There was a lot attached to this degree besides the education that came with it. Fulfillment of dreams. The understanding of the dire need we all have for hope and encouragement and what the lack of those two things can mean to us. The value of endurance and persistence and the value of having someone to share these dreams with.
Zig Ziglar says "If there is hope in the future there is power in today" and he is right. I never fully understood that until August 17th of last year when I did a Degree Completion Audit and realized I was less than 20 hours from graduation. That I would really make it this year. In that instant, in my heart I moved from a college student to a college graduate. Everything changed. The effort this took became somehow easier. The staying up late and the humbling circumstances I was living in then were far more tolerable. With hope I was stronger, more excited, more driven, more focused and more happy. Hope is everything. I gained a great deal of hope along the way. I want to give it back. I want people who read my story to look at my life and see how it has turned from bad to good. From good to great. Hopefully from great to beyond expectation. I want to inspire someone who has nothing or no one to inspire them. I want to dig some wells. My grandmother was a big fan of Gospel music. I, however, was not. But I remember one record she played from time to time by Henry and Hazel Slaughter. There was a song on it entitled "Leave a Well in the Valley". The chorus went:

"Leave a well in the valley / That dark and lonely valley / Others have to walk that valley too.
 What a blessing when they find / The well of joy you've left behind  /  Leave a well, in the valley you go through"

The thought is we travel through difficulties we may or may not find wells in the valley. Wells in the valley are those rest stations provided by those pilgrims who have gone before us on a similar path, found the strength and grace to endure and make it through, and dug a well for the next weary traveler. Maybe there was no well for them on their journey and they want to make sure nobody leaves this spot thirsty. Maybe they found a well but the number of travelers is growing and another one sure wouldn't hurt. For whatever reason, these enduring, persistent friends have decided to leave a blessing behind for the next guy. That blessing comes in the form of lessons learned while walking this dark path. Lessons of encouragement, cheer, hope, prayers offered with tears, tangible help when possible, a smile, an arm around a shoulder. That's my goal become a well-digger.
I cannot change my story. I was homeless. I spent three and a half years like that. I was lost and hopeless and broken and sad and afraid it would never change. And for most of the journey I was very alone. It seemed as if the people who really cared were far away and the ones close by had no time nor tolerance for my plight. I have forgiven those whom I felt abandoned me, because had I not been abandoned so, I would not have this marvelous story to tell. I would not appreciate and understand the value of hope, encouragement, and empathy.
Now I want to leave some wells. My degree is a Bachelor of Sciences in Religion, but I took an extensive amount of classes in Life Coaching. I want to help others find that one thing that will make them hungry to work hard, endure, withstand, and get excited about for the rest of their lives. I want to be a hope giver.
That's why I've been chronicling this crazy journey. Because somewhere in this world there is someone who has a dream. It's been eating at them for half their lifetime. Nobody around them believes in it or values it, and that's kept it buried. But they found this blog, they heard my story and somebody rolled away the stone. If that's you...GO FOR IT! Let me know. Email me and I'll be your cheerleader if you don't have one. If I can do this thing, you can do your thing.
Live your life with High Hopes!

Until Tomorrow


Dale Peterson/ said...

Craig -

I wrote a book just over a year by the same title, Leave a Well in the Valley, that was inspired by the same song that my friend Gordon Jensen composed in 1971. In fact, Elmer Towns wrote the Foreword for the book.

The book is available through in either Kindle or paperback, or at

Dale Peterson

CraigD2599 said...

Hey! Very cool!Thanks for reading and hope the book does well!