Throwback Thursday: When Heavenly Father Messed Up My Future [:

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I have been the recipient of many miracles in the past two week. Literally one week ago, I had no financial aid. None. I went home from work and I prayed and I told my Heavenly Father, “If you don’t want me to go to school this fall, I won’t, but I’m going to keep trying to find some way to pay for it.” 
The boring, technical stuff:
The first time I went into the FA office to get aid for this fall, they confused me and told me to do something I had no idea how to do. So I gave up. I waited the whole summer before attempt two. I walked in again a week ago, had everything I needed, but then they told me I needed an IRS tax transcript for my parents, which I didn’t have and which the website told me would take 5-10 days to ship when I only had one weekend plus 5 days before “schedule purge day.” I ordered it and prayed. It came in four. I took it in, then they told me it would take a week to find out if I had financial aid or not, but that I needed to pay for tuition — this was two days before Purge Day. I told them I had no money. They redirected me to a three-payment system I had no idea about and within an hour, I pushed back the due date for tuition to next Tuesday. 
THEN when I got home from work today, tired and a bit disappointed, I looked at my email and found out that I have nearly $3,000 of financial aid this fall. No loans, but aid. They told me it would take a week. It took half that. I couldn’t help it. I broke down.
What a tender mercy, what an amazing gift from my Heavenly Father. It’s made all amazing because recently, I’ve been thinking back to 2010 and how many school miracles I had then. It’s as if Heavenly Father is reminding me that He is still there and He is still helping me to get someplace great. If I could explain to you how many blessings I’ve had since changing my school plans according to the Lord’s direction, I would talk endlessly.

Since it’s Thursday and I never do this stuff, here’s a throwback to that first week at USU: 

*  *  * * * * 
Hello. A lot has happened from Point A to Point B. I may not be able to explain it all, but I’ll be able to explain at least most of it.
So, as you all probably know right now, I am no longer going to BYU. In fact, I’ve been an Aggie for exactly…five days. A good friend of mine told me that I needed to keep up this blog, because what I’m going through may actually happen to one of you one day. Maybe it will help someone to cope, maybe it won’t. But for right now, this is why I am no longer a Cougar.
The days leading up to my big leave were brutal. I found myself crying every few hours, feeling sorry for myself, feeling sorry for my family. I have never felt so…hopeless and afraid. It was ridiculous. Oh. And just for the sake of sparing someone from some nasty emotions, NEVER read Mockingjay when you’re feeling sad. It’s like eating your own vomit.
ANYWAY. A lot of great things happened right before I was supposed to leave. That made it harder.
So my Mom and I left and drove down to Provo. I felt myself getting more and more anxious. It was a strange feeling to describe. It was almost like saying goodbye was something that didn’t bother me, but leaving bothered me.
Anyway, we showed up on campus. It’s gigantic. And beautiful. And little country girl Ari didn’t know how to deal with it. Unlike DC, which was filled with things I’ve recognized my whole life, stepping into Provo was like diving to the bottom of the ocean. I was uncomfortable with the newness of it and dindn’t know how to handle it. So crowded, so big, so…new.
I know I’m stressing the negative things, but to be honest, I was so emotional that I was looking through one lense. This is how I saw it.
I got my key from the Snow building and wandered downstairs. The sight of my name on the door made me feel happy, but I opened it timidly. Inside I could hear the voices of girls I had only talked to online. It was a very strange experience, but I took one leap of faith and dove in. I met them all, and I liked them. Kat is a bubbly girl who readily explores and laughs. Tiele is soft-spoken, but very sweet and kind, like the person who always makes you feel at home. Morgan is a riot. She’s different and unafraid of it, and she’s also very outgoing with a get-it-done attitude. I unpacked all of my stuff, which felt…I felt like I was at EFY. It felt like it was going to be a short stay. I couldn’t picture myself walking around on campus. That’s one thing that’s hard to explain to people.
Later, I met Carly. I didn’t get to know her very well, but she seemed very kind and happy. I also met Jennie, who amazed me with all of her baking and cooking tools. I have a feeling her food tastes amazing.
So I met these girls and I unpacked, but every time I looked at my mom, I felt like crying. After getting my ID picture and wandering around WLK like a pair of tourists, we finally went back to the room. Everyone was sorting their kitchen supplies. That’s when I fell apart.
I’ve never been one to share things, to get rid of things, to stick to a schedule. Suddenly we were deciding when each of us would cook, what we’d use, how we’d use it. I felt like every utensil of mine that didn’t get chosen was one less meal I was going to eat. That sounds horrible, but for some reason I felt that way. I also realized that I had $46 to live on. My grant money was not leaving room for many groceries.
Every single time I looked at my mom, I had to hold back sobs. Yeah. I’m a bawl baby. Anyone who knows me knows that. But this felt…so final.
We left for NSO and that was just a mess. Standing in the hot sun without water or food added to the misery. I hadn’t eaten for a couple of meals. Then it felt so…EFYish again. Marching down to food that I couldn’t eat. I wanted my mom to do all of the orientation things with me, but she couldn’t. That made me feel sick.
We left to stay at my aunt’s house. It was the worst night ever. I couldn’t enjoy TV, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t write in my journal at all because it felt wrong. All night I tossed and turned. I wanted to hold onto my mom’s hand. She got up several times feeling very ill. I almost threw up too. I prayed and prayed. I kept seeing myself going hungry, but mostly I saw myself very unhappy. That terrified me.
After a night spent in confusion without any hope, I woke up and tested the words in my mouth. I told my mom, “I don’t think I’m ready for this.” Just saying that sentence made me feel relief. Mom felt it, too. We discussed USU, and every minute I felt relief. Then I found out from a very amazing cousin that I could get things taken care of if I hurried. I still had my scholarship to USU. With that last piece of information, I felt so much peace and comfort. For once I could eat, I could laugh, I could smile. I hadn’t felt that all week.
So in one day we drove off to Provo (a drive made so much better by the peace) and we packed up all of my things and left while everyone was at NSO. I don’t regret that. I don’t think we did it too hastily at all, which confirms my belief that leaving was right for me.
That’s where I hit a snag. Every time I talk to someone, it’s hard. No one, absolutely no one, including myself, knows why I felt good about BYU and then suddenly didn’t. I planned on BYU all year long. All year. But I never imagined feeling so uncomfortable about my choice. Everything worked out for the most part except for my emotions. And I thought long and hard about it. I was going to wait it out, try BYU for a year. But I just couldn’t. I physically could not do that, and emotionally, I felt very unprepared. I thought long and hard about it. For most new things, I feel worry. I’ve never felt terror and sickness all at once like I did last week. Did I run from the Y? I believe that part of me did, but I know that not all of me did.
No. I didn’t spend one night in my bed. I didn’t spend a day at school. But I do not regret one choice leading up to my departure. It all worked out beautifully and timely.
It’s just the explaining that’s hard. No one understands.
But miracles have happened. I registered and did everything the first day school started. I found out that my scholarship was probably not going to come through because the school had spent too much money, and because I didn’t accept it earlier in the year, it was probably already going to someone else. Within minutes of being told no, the director told me yes. And then I got more grant money for school, a huge blessing. It arrived just when I needed it to.
I am now an Aggie. I’ve had a rough week, but I’ll continue to tell you about it in Part Two. For now, I’m going to bed happy. A lot of things are working out.
* * * * * *
How I Went From a Cougar to an Aggie – AUG. 2010
I enrolled, registered, and got everything taken care of the first day of school, thus missing out on the first day of school for every single one of my classes except for two. But it wasn’t that easy. The woman in the financial center was having a bad morning, thus my bad morning was made worse. It rained buckets and I had to trudge through it. Where is the silver lining in my going to USU? I must have asked that a dozen times. 
Then a miracle happened. After being told three different times that my scholarship (Dean’s scholarship) would be unavailable to me since I did not accept it back in May, we tried one more time. Once again, the woman at the desk told us that the school was over-budgeted and that my money most likely went to someone else. But she went to talk to the Admissions Director. When she came back, she looked perplexed. “Jen must be in a very good mood,” she said. “She says your scholarship will be in your account by midnight tonight.” Tuition for the year? Completely paid for because someone was in a “good mood.” It was such a blessing that my mom and I nearly cried. And then it made me think about people and what makes them feel inclined to help out another, even without knowing the situation. Heavenly Father is absolutely amazing that way, in every way.
I took a grammar test to get into one of the JCOM classes. I only missed one answer, and I know exactly which one. Darn effect and affect. They mess me up every time.
After that I just ran around from building to building getting registered for Institute and classes and etcetera. I got my ID photo taken, which was just as beautiful as the BYU photo. Rather than looking anxious, I looked…weary and angry. Which is okay. My ID photos are never that great.
I went to a Statesman Open House because I’m now going to be writing news articles for them. It was…different. I felt so out of place. Little freshman. Blarg.
At any rate, the day went terrible and I couldn’t stop to see the miracles until afterwards. But it confirmed what I had felt.
In fact, it sort of helped me to realize why I felt good about BYU. I’m pretty sure that I was so excited for everything BYU had to offer that I didn’t take real, honest time to pray and think about it. I mean, I did pray about it, but I didn’t honestly think about the reasons why I shouldn’t go down there. All the miracles that happened with grant money and classes? They’ve all happened to me up here. They’ve been blessings by themselves, not blessings confirming that I should go to BYU or USU. I misunderstood that, and now that I realize it, I feel slightly ashamed of myself. I’ve definitely learned a lesson about listening. Prayer isn’t a one way thing. I know that.
* * * * * *
Let’s take a break and think about our relationship, Major. – AUG 2010

In one week, I went from being a BYU Journalism Major to a USU Undeclared. I guess that begs for some explanation.
On day number two, after wasting away the afternoon until 4:00, I went to my second JCOM class of the day, Media Smarts. It was a very small class and I felt sort of awkward. Don’t know why. When the teacher came out, I think I started to realize why.
She didn’t want us to conform, so she had us sit however we wanted. And then she pulled out THE CONTRACT. THE CONTRACT consisted of a list of things we had to basically swear upon. One of the things was to find an edited edition of a movie our peer group chose if it was rated R and we didn’t believe in watching rated R movies. I was okay with that, I mean, it would have been hard work, but I would have done it. Then came the cirriculum.
Apparantly, to major in journalism, it is “unavoidable” to go without watching rated R movies in class. And, also apparantly, a lot of the movies watched in class would have nothing but swear words, which shouldn’t offend anyone, right?
I was told that my beliefs were great, but I was going to have to forgo them to see the perspectives of others. I was shown a Stephen Colbert clip about a boy who was made fun of because he didn’t believe in a movie that he was shown in class. They made him look so stupid.
The class is required for the major, but after going through it, I had deep-seated anxiety. Every journalism major I talked to said that sometimes you just have to do stuff like that to get what you really want. What?
Since when has it become okay for someone to abandon everything they believe in to get something they want?
So I went home and thought about it. If I left class early, I would get docked from my quiz scores. I could then take the final exam in place of the quizzes and still pull an A. But if rated R movies are on the test, how is avoiding them going to get me the grade I need?
Then I considered myself. I’m a coward. The best way for me to avoid exposure to those movies was for me to get out of that class. Screw the contract and forget my major.
Yeah. I got a lot of flack from that on both sides.
Then I had a lesson from Brother Larsen, my very first seminary teacher and my now Institute teacher. It was all about doing hard things and how sometimes we don’t know why we have to do something, but the Lord lights our path if we do it. That basically summarized my USU experience thus far. I had dropped my major, I had changed my schedule over and over, I had left BYU to go to a school that I didn’t plan on attending. But I was a Laman about it. I complained and wondered why without realizing that every step I took in the right direction led to another lighted step.
After that lesson, I nearly broke down to him. For some reason, I stood there blubbering after class about how grateful I was for the lesson and how my major had been changed and I didn’t know what I was doing. Then he told me about an experience very similar to mine. He said that he was the editor of his school newspaper, and when he was a senior, he got offered a journalism scholarship at a university. He attended, very excited about it, but when he was in the class, he found out that he would have to be doing some things that he did not believe in. And he felt wrong about that class. So what did he do? He gave it up and came to USU, very confident that the Lord would help him to find the major he belonged with.
I thought about that all week. I already knew I was stepping onto a sinking ship by majoring in Journalism, but that really hit me. I dropped the class and felt perfectly fine with it. Then a friend told me that a lot of the times, a major in journalism does not impress newspaper editors. They want someone well rounded who studies what they want to write about. That’s part of the reason why she’s majoring in International Studies instead of Journalism. She dropped that class, too.
So, I’m chilling out this semester and exploring. But I felt God’s power all week. If I’m not meant to major in Journalism, He will let me know.
* * * * * * 
So about USU. My decision is still a sound one. I’m not going back. But I am so directionless. I don’t know what to do. I built up these expectations and all of these plans, and then to have to rip them down and start all over again has been so hard. Thinking about going to BYU makes me feel that same discomfort I had, but then again, I feel so strange where I’m at. Like something’s missing.
Starting all over again has been possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. Where before I had networks that I could become involved with, I have nothing now. I have to try hard to seek them out. It’s very discouraging.
I don’t ever wonder about what it would be like for me to be back at BYU. That never even crosses my mind. What does is the reason for me being up here. It’s like a brand new investigation into myself. As goofy as it sounds, I think I’m growing up here more than I would down there. I’m the type of person to always have something to look forward to. Now I don’t know.
Most of you won’t understand this. You’re probably perfectly happy with where you are. Me? I’m just praying for guidance. That’s really what I need right now.
I’m in a gigantic game of connect the dots and it’s still one giant leap to the next dot. I’ve got to figure out how to get there little by little.
Who am I? That’s what this is going to make me find out.
* * * * * * 
Present Day: 
It’s amazing to look back at those blog posts. Can I list for you the major blessings I’ve had since transferring schools? 
The opportunity to help start up one of the very first YSA, non-student stake Institutes, the realization that I love English and really can’t stand to write news, amazing friendships, great callings, the development of a firm testimony, the opportunity to serve numbers of people, my very first real jobs, job security, the opportunity to see certain siblings completely change their lives around, some great dates, a new found passion for rock climbing, the ability to see who I am and rise above weakness, the opportunity to visit the temple often, the ability to stand my ground and to stand for what I believe in, the opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, healthy friendships, independence, etc., etc. 
I am blessed. Extremely blessed. Thanks for the reminder, Heavenly Father. 

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1 comment

  1. This is almost therapeutic. I sometimes forget that I'm not the only one still looking for what I really want to do with my life. My plans have changed over and over in different ways than yours, but as surely as you have recognized it, each change of plans has brought another step towards the light. Where and what to study has vexed my mind almost continually for the past five years, and it has taken me that long to realize that Heavenly Father is more interested in building me than building my transcript. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.