Three years ago today, I graduated from law school. Upon graduating, if someone told me that I would be an author, not a practicing lawyer, I would have told you that you were crazy. Well, sure enough…that’s exactly what happened.
It amazes me how much my life has changed in three years: I am happily married, I published my first novel, and I still live in Florida. I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world, either. When we follow our God-given passions…whether any of it makes sense or not, incredible things can happen for you.
I wrote a blog post about how this happened on my other site, and I’m going to reference some of it here:
” If someone goes in the opposite direction from where they started, we say that she or he ‘did a 180.’ I believe this commonly used phrase is the best way to capture my life. I guess I could also say: God stepped in.
I went to college for my Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice. I loved every class I had, my professors were fantastic, and I met some great people while I pursued the degree. My class on Organized Crime piqued my interest in practicing law. A year before graduation, God spoke to my heart during church one life-changing Sunday. He said: ‘Go to law school.’ Perfect. I had clarity and a purpose. I knew what the next steps were. I had direction. I was excited.
In June of 2007 I moved to Florida to start law school. The law school experience for me was nothing like I had heard it would be. The drama, the insane workload, the newly discovered social anxiety, the lack of time spent with family, eating, or breathing for that matter. Sure I had heard war stories, but you can’t possibly understand the life of a law student unless you were (are) one. (Disclaimer: I know other students in rigorous graduate or post-graduate work, esp. medical students will understand this…I’m not excluding you – just saying law school is different, not harder.)
Well after a year and a half of going through never-ending stress, God decided it was time to intervene. I was fine with it because I kept finding myself in certain classes, jobs, or internships that didn’t suit me. I was frustrated because I had no clue as to what law I wanted to practice in. I couldn’t believe that I started to HATE everything… For the next 8 months, God took me through an intense healing process to heal and delivery me from my past. (You will read about the start of that process in Rage.) Well during that time I noticed a few things: I had more emotions, I became sensitive to my feelings and to others around me, I learned more about God, church, & the Bible than I ever knew in my entire life, etc. I had no idea that God would free me from all kinds of pain. I felt raw & ugly, but God was turning my life (and me) into something beautiful. So the healing process was the first turning point to my personal ‘180 degrees.’
Mid-August 2009, I met my husband-to-be, which naturally started a new chapter in my life. Wow, what a journey our relationship has been so far. I love my husband more everyday. He was everything I was looking for in a husband, and much more than I ever even dreamed of.
Then in the Spring of 2010, a few months prior to graduation, I had trouble with my health. Thankfully I was able to graduate and study for the bar without any physical trouble. However, I digress. Studying for the Bar exam was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. The preparation was grueling! No one should have to study for 12-14 hours a day for 10 straight weeks to pass a test. I had an emotional breakdown approximately once a week. If it weren’t for God, my then boyfriend, family, and friends, I would have given up. After 10 weeks of insanity I took the exam. I was nervous but felt calm the entire time. Parts of the exam were easy, some not so much. Of course one of the essays on the exam dealt with my worst subject area.
I hate to let the public know this because I’m sure I’ll face some judgment, but I’m so over worrying about it. So, I found out 6 weeks after that I did not pass. I could not believe it. I cried for two days straight. I did not talk to anyone. It just did not make sense to me. Of course I had to hide my anger when my friends called to tell me they passed. Anyway I sought out God. He told me to go to school so why in the world did I fail? A couple of people prayed with me and God said he had a good reason for allowing me to fail. It helped me to feel better knowing that I would have passed the Bar, but God stopped me because he had another career in mind. I’m sure now you are thinking: WHAT?
Yup. So I went on a personal mission to figure out this ‘new’ career. I went to career workshops, took personality/job type tests, prayed, read Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, and anything else I could think of to get me closer to figuring out what in the world God had in mind.
Someone finally asked me the question: if I could do anything in the entire world, without any restrictions, what would it be? Immediately the response came to my mind: I would write fiction novels full-time. Then it clicked. I prayed with other people for confirmation, which God generously gave to me. He said: ‘My daughter, you are a writer. Dream BIG. Write everyday. My spirit has known all along that I’m supposed to be a writer.’ I felt a huge release in my entire body. I felt free! I was (and still am) happy! I was thrilled beyond belief. You may say, where did writing come from? Well when I was just 3 years old, I used to draw pictures and tell my parents stories based upon them. My mom said she was amazed that as a 3 year old, I could recall the exact details for every picture and not get my ‘facts’ mixed up.
I dabbled in fiction writing in elementary school. I hope my teachers will read my novels someday and know that they encouraged me. In 4th and 6th grade I had teachers who reserved time for creative writing. I started two novels those years. 1 of which I finished in 7th grade (and I have plans to rewrite it). The other I haven’t finished, but I have a lot of ideas on how to do it. Anytime I was home sick from school I usually took some time to write, usually on a new idea. Then in 8th grade I got the idea for Rage. That idea had transformed over the last 14 or so years. It’s gone through numerous revisions and my poor parents had to wait 14 years before they could finally read it!
Now that you know that deep down in my soul, I’ve ALWAYS wanted to be a fiction writer, I’ll complete my ‘180.’ After God revealed that plan for my life, I know that I do not want to do anything else! You may think, what about law school? Well, I will be using what I learned in law school to help me identify with my husband who’s a deputy sheriff, and to help me write. I still love criminal justice. I know it sounds weird, but I love crime. I love when my husband shares stories of his day. Now you also understand why John Grisham is one of my heroes. (I do not write anywhere close to his style, as we both have our own unique voices.)
So that’s my ‘180 degrees.’ I, and anyone who knows me, couldn’t be happier to be pursuing my life-long dream to become a published author. I’m happy that my law school friends are practicing law, but I do not miss it at all. It was too stressful for me & I wasn’t even practicing full-time. I live a much-less stressful life and I love it. (Since I will not be practicing law ever, I have no plans to spend $3,000 + no income for 10 weeks to take the bar again because there is zero point.) I still have my Juris Doctorate degree and nothing will ever change that.”
So, there you have it! My goal in sharing this very personal story is to encourage others who have dreams in their heart to pursue their passions – it is worth it. Also…here’s to my cousin-in-law who graduates from the same law school this weekend. I’m so proud of him, and I know that he’ll pass the bar just fine, and become a fantastic attorney.