Whitney Bond is currently a 1st year Master of Divinity student at Candler School of Theology at Emory University. She is a graduate of Spelman College where she received her B.A. in Drama with a Concentration in Dance. Also a native of St. Louis, MO, Whitney hopes to structure her research around sexual embodiment and practices. Additionally, she has strong background in the entertainment and loves to share her culinary adventures through social media.
[Whitney shares her whirlwind story of how a two-day trip to Atlanta turned into a moment to pursue destiny. See more below!]
For the last few years I’ve been dreaming — literally dreaming! These nightly dreams would be so intense that I would often awake with dried tears on my face and feeling as if I’d been hit by a Mack truck. Once I would collect myself, I knew that it was time to make some type of change in my life. Over the course of the last 5 years, this has meant applying to various graduate programs (and being denied), changing jobs, relocating, or simply doing a self-check in some area of my life.
In December 2012, I returned to my hometown because, even though I was working three jobs, I was broke and extremely unhappy. While living at home, it was great to be surrounded by my family but I was ready to get out of the Midwest. However, I had no idea what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. I applied for jobs in states I wanted to live such as California and New York but all of these returned with no positive responses to move forward. Soon after, my reoccuring dreams had ceased. I was praying and could not hear anything from God. So, I remained home, miserable and going around the same mountain.
However, on August 6, 2013 my life took one of the biggest turns I’d ever experienced. I awoke from a midday nap in a complete frantic! My heart was racing uncontrollably. My entire body was covered in sweat and I could not stop crying. In the dream, I was preaching the closing ceremony of my family reunion. Two relatives asked me what I was doing and I responded, “Oh, I’m at Emory now. I’m getting my M.Div. with a concentration in Theology and the Arts.”
The dream shook me! After praying to God and talking with family members, mentors and friends, they all left me with the same answer: sit still and wait for God to answer you. For me, it seemed like the dream was pretty clear but THAT was not the answer I wanted to hear! I never envisioned myself seriously attending seminary. Though I’d gone on seminary tours and once was a Religious Studies major during undergrad, those interests were a thing of the past.
For the next two weeks I did not rest. I didn’t even want to pray because I felt like God was simply going to confirm the dream. Granted, I wasn’t doing anything in St. Louis, but seminary just seemed so scary! I didn’t know what people were going to think about me and I didn’t feel like I was ready to handle such a serious call. Once I finally agreed to apply for the 2014-2015, I was able to return to getting a full night’s rest. The week of August 18th, my aunt and I drove my cousin back to Atlanta to resume her studies at Spelman. Unbeknownst to us, our trip would get extended from a simple two-day trip to almost a week. Since we were already here, my good friend and big sister suggested that I visit Candler during my extended trip. That way, when I applied the 2014-2015 year, they would have a face with the name. What a genius idea?! I knew that I would love Candler’s program because Spelman serves as a feeder school for the institution and I was blessed enough to have been a part of several of my sister’s journeys during their time at Candler.
As Spirit would have it, I had an impromptu tour during orientation. I was able to meet almost the entire admissions team and talk with them individually. Even more interestingly enough, one of my mentors, Rev. Melva Sampson, just so happened to be on Emory’s campus that day and I was able to meet the incomparable Dr. Teresa Fry-Brown. After our initial meeting, Dr. T asked me why I hadn’t applied for this semester. I explained to her the dream I had just a few weeks prior and that it was too late for the Fall 2013 semester. She assured me, in the way that she often does, that I would be walking the halls of Candler in 2014, for sure. About 30 minutes after our conversation, we saw each other again and she suggested (in front of the admissions counselors, mind you), that I apply for THIS semester.
I was so confused! I hadn’t looked at an application, didn’t know their requirements, had no transcripts, didn’t know who would write my letters of recommendation, NOTHING. After reading my expression, she said, “It’s not as if you’re doing something at home now. Apply. Also, I have class tomorrow from 8:30-12:30. I expect to see you then.” Can we say emotional overload? Though it was a lot, something told me to rush to Spelman to request my transcript. I got there at 4 pm and was able to get copies of my transcripts with much ease.
Our original plan to leave on Wednesday was delayed which allowed for me to sit in on Dr. T’s class and return to the admissions office to inquire about possibly applying for the current semester. To make a long story short, I was given a paper application, filled it out in associate director of admissions Rich Landers’ office and gave him my transcript along with my application fee waiver. After meeting with him and Dean Boise, I now had to contact my recommenders, work on my personal statement, resume and academic writing sample. I returned home early Friday morning and began working on all three over the weekend. By Tuesday evening, all of my letters of recommendation had been received. Then Wednesday afternoon, I learned that I’d been accepted into Candler School of Theology’s class of 2016. I couldn’t believe it! Classes started Thursday and I needed pack up my things and head back to Georgia.
I got to Atlanta, registered for classes and started Tuesday, September 3rd. Within a matter of weeks, I had housing, books for class and a job. I had no idea that all of the things I thought I needed before I could even begin classes were already waiting for me on the other side of my “yes.” God really got my attention in that dream on August 6th of this year! Even along the way, I’ve wondered, “Is this REALLY for me?” and each time I’ve been met with a resounding “yes!” Though this is only the end of my first semester, I know this is exactly where I’m supposed to be. I may not have full clarity on what the end is going to be, but for now, I’m going to enjoy the journey and learn all that I can along the way.
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, I’m reminded of the importance of waiting patiently until the end has come to past. Like Mary, I had no idea what was awaiting me on the other side of saying “yes” to the plan God had for my life. Though it is wonderful to be driven and determined, I’m convinced that God truly can dream a dream bigger than we can for ourselves. Go into this new season of your life ready and open to The Divine’s guidance. Open your heart to receive and give love, forgiveness and restoration. Pay attention to your dreams and never think that there is anything is too big that you and God cannot handle.
“This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming – it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time.”– Habakkuk 2:3 (MSG)