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My Despicable Little Secret

I knew that title would draw your attention. I’m smart like that. I’m also a grammar Gestapo, I can tell the temperature within 1 or 2 degrees, and eyeball a measurement with amazing accuracy. I have counseled more women than I can count, have an uncanny understanding of the full counsel of God, and I can throw together a healthy meal in less time than it takes to watch the 5 o’clock news. If that doesn’t impress you, I understand “dog lingo” and can teach your unruly pup to sit in 15 minutes flat. 

If I continued with a list of my excellencies, you might ask, “So, what university did you attend?” To that, my reply would be a flat, “none”. My secret, when let out of the reprehensible bag, is that I have no college degree and will probably never obtain one. Attending a community college back in the day frustrated me to no end when the math department had this curious rule that stated that a  student could not go on to the next test until they passed the previous one. I was stunted by the fifth test in the first semester. “Math lab” and all, failure followed me as I could not wrap my mind around certain math concepts taught by certain math teachers who were bent on your learning it “their way”.

So, just at the precise time of my frustration, I was offered (tempted into??) a full time job in a local hospital as an EKG technician. Let me say straight up that working with sick people was not my idea of an exciting career! But getting full time pay, amazing benefits and regular hours was quite appealing. And, oh yes, I could drop the MATH!

My years at Palisades General Hospital afforded me the opportunity and experience to undertake the likes of cardiac stress testing, holter monitoring, echocardiography, and even EEG testing. My pay and my self esteem were increasing incrementally.

Then, the Lord sent me a child.

In those oh-so-archaic days, I knew in my heart that I wanted to raise my baby and no amount of money or status appealed to me more. Thereafter, raising three amazing humans, I never returned to full time work and I never finished my degree.

Shame told me this was not acceptable by the day’s standards and I have struggled with the effects when someone asks me, “So, what do you do?” I usually reply with, “Uh, well…hmmm…Jack of all trades, master of none!” Then go through the litany of explaining the various part time jobs I’ve held since the hospital days, including shaping clay into usable products for a local crafts shop, “cold-calling” for an ad agency, assisting in special needs classrooms, and more recently, working for an AFLAC agent (A F L A C !!)

What’s my point in all of this? It is just to let those of you who do not desire to, or are not called to a BA/MA/PhD off the hook. And for those who hold these titles to not look down upon those who live an honest, productive life, yet lack these credentials.  God’s word tells us that we are ALL “fearfully and wonderfully made”, and Paul so emphatically reminds the Corinthian believers in chapter 3, 18 Stop fooling yourselves. If you count yourself above average in intelligence, as judged by this world’s standards, you had better put this all aside and be a fool rather than let it hold you back from the true wisdom from above. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As it says in the book of Job, God uses man’s own brilliance to trap him; he stumbles over his own “wisdom” and falls. 20 And again, in the book of Psalms, we are told that the Lord knows full well how the human mind reasons and how foolish and futile it is.”21 So don’t be proud of following the wise men of this world. For God has already given you everything you need. (I Corinth. 3:18-21, TLB) And the last time I checked, Jesus and His disciples did not accrue the “higher” education of the day, yet they turned the culture upside down and we are beneficiaries of those “unlearned” men.

Hear me out…I am not down on college degrees! I admire those who stick it out, even when it seems impossible to attain. Many careers require a degree and God may be leading you precisely in that direction. But please, don’t let the culture dictate the path that GOD has mapped out for you.  Also, take into consideration the COST. Jesus admonished us to “count the cost”, and I believe that applies to all decisions that are made. If you rack up a pile of debt by paper-chasing, it could quickly turn into a financial nightmare!  How much precious time will it take out of your life paying that thing down?

Bottom line? No shame here on either side of the equation. If you are privileged to have that degree, may you use your position to bring glory to God and I applaud you. But if you are lacking the sheepskin, yet live a productive, hard working life, then shear out the shame!  At times, I’m still aware of the tinge of what I’m “lacking”. But the realization that there’s no caste system in the Body has freed me from the stigma. My dirty secret has thankfully been washed and it’s hanging out for all to see.

Lori Travers

Lori finds the Joy of the Lord to be her strength. Born and raised an Italian Jersey girl, she has finally settled in the south as Reynolda Presbyterian church became her new home. Ministry to women, reading, writing, cooking, and anything having to do with animals are her sweet spots. Having a background in cardiac testing, she chose to stay home and raise three incredible children who are now married, and currently has 2 precious granddaughters and one faithful husband of 34 years.

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