Paying for College

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

Maybe you've been accepted into a college, or are about to be. You're probably making financial aid applications. I hope you're getting the answers you need, but there's help for you even if it doesn't look like you have enough money. I know this from my own experience.

The week of my high-school graduation, my parents told me they were sorry, but they had no money for my college years. Not even for the deposit I needed to hold my space at the school I'd chosen. It was an expensive private college, and I was really looking forward to going. No one in my family had graduated from college, so I had no one to turn to for an example or for advice. But I'd been learning a lot that year about praying, so I turned to the Bible.

The first thing I read wasn't very encouraging. It was from First Timothy: "The love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (6:10). Well, that was just great. Here I needed money badly, and the Bible was warning me against running after it.

But the next verse told me, "But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness." I'd studied the Bible enough to know that it gives advice worth paying attention to. So I started to think about what it would mean to "follow after," or pursue, these qualities, instead of money. What would happen if I was righteous? Well, I'd be making the right choices. I wouldn't be doing things that would get me into trouble. People would know they could trust me. Employers would want that, and that would help me get and keep jobs.

To me, seeking godliness meant trying to live in line with God's nature. I was familiar with a biblical description of God written by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered the Science of Christ: "The great I am; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 587). I realized that if I wanted to live in accord with God's nature, I would need to be wise, principled, intelligent, and so on. Those, too, were qualities people would look for and trust in an employee.

Faith required that I trust God with my needs. I had prayed carefully about my college decision. Now I'd need to put that prayer in God's hands and have confidence in His loving care for me. That meant I would have to stop worrying. I'd seen God's care for me many times before, and, if I was honest with myself, I didn't have any reason to think He would stop taking care of me now.

To be loving, I would have to think of others and not just push ahead with my plans if they turned out to be selfish. Patience meant I wouldn't rush into things; I could wait to see just what God's plan for me was. If I was to be meek, I could not believe that I could solve this problem all on my own or through my own cleverness. I would listen for and follow God's direction, which I knew I had through my spiritual relationship to Him.

From then on I tried to express these qualities everywhere - with my parents, teachers, and friends. Two wonderful things happened. First, I realized that trying to live by this biblical advice satisfied me more than money ever could. Whether I went on to this college or not, I realized, I'd discovered something that would always help me be happy and successful.

Second, my family had a graduation party for me, and everyone gave me money instead of other gifts. I had exactly enough for the deposit. Shortly after that, a family friend told my mother that she would like to help me with my education. This gave me the confidence to move ahead with my plans. Between work, loans, and financial aid, I was able to attend four straight years of college, and only ask for additional help a few times.

So I know you can do it, too. You can turn to God in prayer and ask Him what you need to learn to help you make it through school. You don't have to chase after money. You can follow after and express qualities of God that will always be a source of good in your life.

Articles like this one appear in 13 different language editions of the magazine The Herald of Christian Science.

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