The phrase used to be “Bless your heart.” For more serious cases the expression has been upgraded to “God love her.”
Irritants can be a great gift. Many outstanding feats have been accomplished when adversity presented itself: my academic career is a stellar example.
Academically, I struggled. In elementary school I was placed in the “C” section—not to be confused with a surgical procedure to give birth. There was an “A” section for the Einsteins, a “B” section for the normal children, and the “C” section for those who needed medication and supplication.
One day in the sixth grade, I was carrying a stack of paper to the office for my teacher and she said, “Jane, don’t look at those papers. It’s your IQ.” I thought, Lady, you are stupid! Then I looked at my IQ and realized that I was the stupid one.
When it was time to take the PSAT in high school, I made the lowest score in the class. I was told that scores increase considerably when you take the SAT. Well, that didn’t happen. I even took classes to make a higher score on the math section, and I actually made a lower score. I took the SAT for a second time. My score was low again. Then I tried the ACT and my score was still pitiful. Is there a test called DUMB?
In the meantime, I began teaching dyslexic children on weekdays after school and every Saturday. The head of the program fired me and told me she thought I was dyslexic.
I sat on some rocks at Folly Beach, “boo-hooing” and having a pity-party. Then I realized that no one could tell me who I was and that no one knew what was inside me except my Heavenly Father. With faith and prayer, I determined to prove the experts wrong.
I decided to go to college.
I met with my high school advisor. She reviewed my transcript and college entrance exam scores. Then she asked if I had any “pull.” All I could think of was that Daddy had a brand new John Deere tractor.
None of the colleges and universities that grabbed my interest were interested in me. However, one day I received a letter from the admissions office at Columbia College in response to my application. They weren’t accepting me either, but they wanted me to come to an interview. That was good enough!
I drove to Columbia, South Carolina, determined to become a Columbia College girl. Over and over again I said to the admissions counselor, “Just give me a chance. I will make you proud.” I wore that man down.
When I returned to Johns Island, I ran into the tomato field and yelled, “Daddy, I got in!”
My parents couldn’t afford my college tuition. That was another hurdle. But God blessed me with a grant and gave Daddy some cucumber rebate money.
That August I entered Columbia College as a freshman on academic probation, but four years later I walked across the stage with a diploma in hand. My peers awarded me the college’s highest honors. I even made the Dean’s List.
God did a work in my life many years ago with my academic challenges. But He didn’t stop there. God is a God of possibilities and life lessons. I can testify that irritants and adversity can become your best friends.
(Excerpted from Bury Me with My Pearls by Jane Jenkins Herlong, published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Used by permission.)
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How have you overcome the “limitations” others assigned to you? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
Bury Me with My Pearls: Humor with a Spiritual Twist
by Jane Jenkins Herlong
Normal Price: $12.95 (print)
Amazon Price: $7.95
Professional humorist, singer and best-selling author Jane Jenkins Herlong finds the funny in dysfunction while entertaining folks with her comedy and singing heard on Sirius XM Satellite Radio and Pandora. From the tomato fields of her native Johns Island, South Carolina all the way to the runway of the Miss America Pageant, Jane’s contagious optimism helps audiences learn how to handle difficult life situations with a sense of humor and grace. Through original Southern stories and award-winning singing, audiences learn life skills dealing with stress to achieve more success. Jane travels across the country and has spoken in New Zealand and Germany. She is fluent in four languages: English, Southern, Northern and Gullah. Her story of overcoming being labeled dyslexic and other challenges gives audiences a recipe for balancing their own personal journey with humor and hope, and her book Bury Me with My Pearls: Humor with a Spiritual Twist was a Gold Medal Winner of the 2015 Illumination Book Awards.