Sunday, March 15, 2015

Time to Love (or why I became a college dropout after age 50)

I post this with a caveat to my children and grandchildren: I am not in any way suggesting that you drop out of school or if you are thinking of going back to school, I am not suggesting that you shouldn’t. Each of us have individual decisions to make related to our lives and fulfilling our potential. My hope and prayer is that you prayerfully and honestly examine the priorities you have set in your life. Sometimes sacrifice now is necessary to achieve greater potential in the future, sometimes the sacrifice now is too great. This is MY decision and why I made it.

I love to learn new things. I think most of us do. Although I dropped out of college when I got married, I continued to learn. I devoured my husband’s textbooks and most other books I could find. As personal computers came of age, I learned all I could about them. I recognized their potential to do great things and eventually (in the 1990s) taught myself HTML markup language and created a personal website (yeah, I know, HTML is now almost obsolete, but only almost). More than once I considered going back to college and getting the degree I started out to get. Then I realized that my dreams and hopes and plans had changed and perhaps I wanted a different degree. Oh, and there was the cost. At a time when my own children were starting college, it seemed there wasn’t quite enough time OR money to support my own degree seeking. Still, I continued to learn about things, many things.

Finally, an opportunity arose to attend college and it seemed I had the time to do so. Thanks to BYU-Idaho’s Pathway program, the tuition was quite affordable. And what better place to obtain a degree? BYU! (Go Blue! Rah!) So, I embarked on a college journey while simultaneously wading through the waters of grief after the passing of my husband. Sometimes I felt I was in deep water, perhaps even over my head water, but the impending homework deadline was screaming from my laptop, so I would push those thoughts aside and stride right back into the collegiate ocean. 

Then came the Math semester. My struggles with math (documented in this post) meant that it took more and more of my time to complete the assigned work. I mean, talk about DEEP water! I had learned to approach my learning with prayer, and that did help, but only after many, many hours of study and work was I able to complete that semester. I was amazed, but I escaped that class with a B! Wow! I breathed a sigh of relief- the college degree seemed attainable after all. I still wasn’t sure what kind of degree I would seek, but I plunged back in.

Well I’m not sure I’m wiser
But some things are clearer
And it’s getting clear that I’m not here for long
So what am I to do with my few minutes here in this place?

That is, until I was visiting with some of my (step-) children. I was on a college break, between semesters, and was enjoying time with family. I commented that I wished I had time to see them more, and my step-daughter said, “But you always have homework!”. Ouch. I drove home that night pondering…what was I sacrificing? Who is most important? I do not have small children at home. But my children and grandchildren are no less important. And there are so many! Even if I text or call them all in a week…well, there aren’t enough days in a week. And so began a season of pondering. What is God’s plan for me right now? Is college really part of that plan? A wise person said to me once, “These earth-life days and hours are sacred hours. We will not get them again.” Well, duh. Was I making the most of my earth hours?

And we hear the world sigh with its aches and its pains
We see the grass wither and watch flowers fade

What my heart told me was not what my brave, educated mind wanted to hear. But as soon as I knew it, I knew it was right. I do not want to spend these sacred earth-life days worrying about homework deadlines and test scores. I want to spend time loving and serving. I want to have the time to sink deep into sacred scripture and not worry about if I’m writing an appropriate discussion board entry. I want time to to make a journey to see grandchildren (ok, and their parents) without worrying about getting the homework done before or after or during that journey. I want time to do His work without hurrying home to complete an online test.

But oh, there’s a day that is coming
When everything will be new
And oh, God will dry every tear
And everything sad will be made untrue
And oh, it’s gonna be a celebration
All of creation longs for
And while we’re waiting for that day to come
We’ve got a little more time to love.

Now, if you’re thinking that maybe I’m not using my time wisely, remember that my singular lifestyle means that I do EVERYTHING myself or I pay someone else to do it. I choose to pay someone to take care of my pool, so that I have time to enjoy using it. We all make trade-offs. I no longer want to trade sitting in front of my laptop doing homework for sitting with grandchildren on my lap reading books together. I no longer want to trade slipping out after a meeting so I can complete homework by the deadline for slipping a homemade treat onto someone’s front step. This is the time I have, and there is only so much of it (and me) to go around. I have been ultimately blessed and I want to share it. For me, at least, doing His work does not mean doing homework. 

There are little ones hungry for love of a family
So many hungry for bread
On the left and the right surrounded by the last and the least
And just down the street and just across the table
Hungry hearts are waiting to be fed
‘Cause deep in our soul we’re all longing to be at The Feast
But until we sit down where there’s more than enough
Let us give as we’ve been given and love as we’ve been loved.
(A Little More Time to Love by Stephen Curtis Chapman)

Thomas S. Monson has said, ""We cannot call back time that is past, we cannot stop time that now is, and we cannot experience the future in our present state. Time is a gift, a treasure not to be put aside for the future but to be used wisely in the present.”

In my present, I want a little more time to love.


  1. Two thumbs up. Sounds like a great choice to me.

  2. Beautiful, Kathy! I "get" your choice. I hope I would make the same. - Karyn Borne

  3. Kathleen, I just love reading everything you write and learning from you. What a great example you are. I miss seeing you, but I love keeping up with your life on here and Facebook. Keep writing!

    1. Sarah, I miss you! Thanks for the sweet comment!

  4. I agree that the relationships you have with your family and friends are way more important than knowledge.

    1. We don't have to choose one or the other, I think we can do both! Example: I just signed up for a four hour garden class at Desert Botanical Garden and I'm taking one of my kids with me. Relationship and learning, all in one!

  5. I love this. I too have been contemplating this same path. This is a wonderful pros and cons entry for my choice ahead. We are so alike in our loss and the family that we can share our time with. I am still working full time, so that also has been another way that a lot of my time is used. thank you!

    1. Sheryl, I think of you often! Working full time adds another wrinkle to the game. Perhaps if I didn't work I would feel differently. Maybe we should retire early and enroll in school?! :) Thanks for your comment!