Tracey Lee Alana Dimsoy. There are so many things I could say to tell the people how I feel about having you for a friend. I met you in my sophomore year at Claflin, and we worked together as RAs under Ms. Livingston in Kleist Hall (the BEST hall lol). From long nights behind the front desk of Kleist and East to longer nights in Gwen’s office for AKA, we’ve been through the thick of it. And our friendship has never wavered. I love you for all of the grace you instill in my life and can’t tell you how overjoyed I am to help you share your story with the world. And here it is:
The teacher in me decided before I could start talking about grace, I need to define it. So of course, I googled it and found something that really stuck out to me. “Grace is a totally gratuitous gift of God. We can do absolutely nothing to “earn” it, and we have no “right” to it”. Wow! Just reading it humbled me. In the dictionary, according to Tracey Lee Dimsoy, it says “a gift I don’t deserve.” Let’s face it, in today’s world we have become entitled and believe we deserve so much, but in the spiritual realm, we deserve death. Yet, God gives us chances every day to turn to him. And to add the cherry on top, He gives us grace. In my life that looks like, “Tracey you sin but I’m giving you health”, “I know you spoke ill of this friend but I gave you free education”, “I know you stole but here’s a solution to that financial problem.”
My life is based on the concept of grace. For some background, I am Trinidadian. I was born on the beautiful island of Trinidad. But the part of my life that I want to outline starts in 2011 when I decided that I wanted to leave my home and go somewhere that I have never been, where I have no family and pursue my education. But there were holes in my plan. For starters, my mom had been the main financial supporter of my and my three younger siblings’ lives; there was no way I could put that financial burden on her. Next, I’m so family-oriented that I couldn’t fathom leaving them and going plane rides away on my own. Lastly, I found myself having thoughts of my abilities, and asking questions like “can I even do this?”
Then grace popped in. My best friend shared with me that she applied to Claflin University and was offered a full scholarship. She knew that while on campus I could apply for on-campus jobs and make money so I wouldn’t be a financial burden to my mother and of course she would be there and we could support each other in our journeys. So I applied, I was offered a scholarship and I was determined to make something of myself.
I won’t go into great detail of my four years at Claflin, but I will outline some parts that I could only consider God-ordained and grace-filled.
- Leaving my family was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I remember crying in my room just missing them dearly. God heard my cries and He blessed me above measure with friends (that’s where Santherae comes in lol) and even sorority sisters who filled my heart with love. It wasn’t a replacement, but to feel embraced by friends and their families, to be invited to holiday gatherings, to be thought of on special occasions was more than I could have ever hoped for.
- My mentor! So growing up, I wasn’t the closest to my father and it was always a part of me I tried not to share when I moved away. While working hard I was advised to seek out mentorship from Dr. Vanderburg. I was told that he would be the key to my success at Claflin. At first, he didn’t want to mentor me, but after much prayer and determination, he finally agreed. What I did not know was that I found an amazing mentor that would push me to publish academic articles in undergrad, present at educational conferences, and even win a research competition at Claflin. I also found a father figure that only God knew I needed. God allowed him to be in my life when I didn’t know I needed that type of presence and even while I’m typing I can’t help but tear up at how that undeserved gift that God gave me has and continues to impact my life even today.
- Ya’ll! This one makes me cry even more (yes, I cry a lot, but who wouldn’t when they really think about how the Lord moves in their life). Alright, so I mentioned before that I didn’t want to make a move unless I knew I could financially support myself. Though when I left, I wasn’t quite sure how, with the help of my family and home church I made it through the first half of year one at college. But I knew I would have to find something soon. Unfortunately, I was told that freshmen didn’t really get opportunities to work on campus, and as an international student working on money was the only way I could make money. But God! But grace! One of my professors sought me out to work for a tutoring program through the education department, and from that point, I was offered positions throughout the summer and my school tenure by professors who saw something in me. I didn’t know before the school year started how I would do it, but God had a plan for me each time, each year. In fact, the summer jobs I was offered in college are summer jobs I still work for when I’m on my break teaching.
I could probably fill a book and then some about God’s grace in my life, but I was only asked for a blog entry. I’m just so grateful that God chose to bless me in times when I wasn’t faithful to Him, when I didn’t pray like I should, when I didn’t live like I should. It’s remembering these moments that push me to truly serve Him. He’s never given up on me and even in my low moments, I can see Him at work in my life. I pray that you can look at your life and see God’s grace dripping out of the pages of your life and realize that you too have stories to tell.