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Monday, August 15

When I Don't Feel Like Being Spiritual

My phone rang, and I knew it had to be my advisor. I'd emailed her twice, explaining that I was applying for residency at Arizona State University for the fall '11 semester, and asking if there was anything else I could do to change from being an online ASU student to an on campus student.

I survived the last school year, but barely. When we moved to Arizona a year ago, I transferred to Arizona State University's online program. It had it's perks: we didn't have to buy a second car right away, or pay out of state tuition, and I could do school in my pj's, if I wanted. But after a semester, I felt like I couldn't take any more. After being actively involved in campus ministry and campus life for two years, I felt almost completely isolated and cut off. It didn't help that some of my teachers felt the need to burden us with heaps of busy-work, and some had no idea what they were teaching. Last semester, my classes had me in tears...every day. 

I resigned myself to another semester of online classes, with hopes of going on campus for my final semester of college. So when I found out that the deadline for applying for residency for the fall semester wasn't until August 24th, I was over the moon with excitement that maybe, just maybe, I could go on campus for my entire senior year.

Hence, the frenzy of emailing advisors and pouring over stacks of residency paperwork. Then, my advisor called.

"I can switch you over to on campus right now, if you want!" She said. "But your tuition will look pretty ugly until your residency application is approved."

"Well, can we see if the classes I need are open on-campus first?" I asked. She looked up my class numbers, and there just happened to be a handful of seats left open in every class!

"You'll need to drop all of the online classes you're registered for right now, and after I switch you to on-campus, we can register you for the on-campus classes....oh...that's interesting," her tone changed. "It seems that even the on-campus students are taking their classes online this semester. All those classes are being offered as what we call icourses...so that means you wouldn't actually be on campus, even as an on-campus student." 



All my built up hopes came tumbling down. The only reason to switch from being an online student to an on-campus student would be the lower price of in-state tuition versus paying per credit. But, we'd have to pay the out of state tuition price until our application was approved, if it was approved. It wasn't worth that gamble when I'd still be taking classes at home. 

I had a good cry, but consoled myself with "well, there's still next semester. At least there's a chance that they'll offer my classes on-campus next semester." Then Brian got home.

As I folded clothes, he flopped on the bed. "Whatcha been doing babe?" I asked.

"Trying unsuccessfully to get your residency," he said. "Unsuccessfully, because you're not going to go on-campus next semester either." 

I continued putting away the clothes in silence as he explained. Apparently, the paperwork that Brian's parents have to fill out (yes, they have to fill out paperwork, that's how crazy trying to get residency is!) stated that the information they provide needs to prove that Brian has been financially independent in 2009, 2010, and 2011. Well, Brian wasn't financially independent until we got married in 2010. "So, for you to be approved as an Arizona resident, you have to be married to an Arizona resident, and one who has been financially independent for at least two years. There's no way you'll get approved."

I left the room for awhile. I didn't feel like being spiritual about this. I felt like being angry. 

Angry at Brian for not understanding how important this was to me.
Angry at ASU for making it so difficult to classify as a resident.
And as it came out later, when Brian and I finally talked about it, angry at God.

Why did God make Brian get a job in Arizona? Why did He give Brian a job where he's miserable 99% of the time? Why couldn't He have given him the design engineering job that was close to Ames? I could have finished my last two years of college at Iowa State University. Why did He make us move far from our families and friends?  I thought I'd worked through all this and resolved to trust God about it a long time ago. I was wrong.

I know none of this was by accident. God could have given Brian that job in Iowa, I could have continued at Iowa State, we could have had a group of over half a dozen young married couples to spend time with.

Brian said "God has a plan," and "He's not concerned about our happiness, but our holiness," which is all well and good, but when you're feeling the pangs of disappointment and visualizing what life could have been like if God had had a different plan, pat answers fall flat.

I didn't feel like being spiritual.

I was angry all Friday evening and Saturday morning. Then God had enough.

I was rehashing again how miserable I felt and how much I dreaded school starting, and a familiar song began to play on the radio. It was familiar, because I sang it for special music at church a few months ago.


We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel you near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if each promise from Your Word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win, we know
That pain reminds this hearts,
That this is not, this is not our home.....
It's not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

What if my greatest disappointments,
Or the aching of this life,
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy.
What if trials of this life,
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise?


The truth flooded my heart and mind.

  • The truth is, I don't know that staying in Iowa would have been as wonderful as I imagine it to be. Living in Iowa and attending ISU would have had trials too.
  • The truth is, I would never have met some of the wonderful friends and mentors I have now if we hadn't moved to Arizona.
  • The truth is, I might have never started blogging seriously if we hadn't moved to Arizona, and I would have met all of you.
  • The truth is, if God hadn't brought us to Arizona, we wouldn't be leading or being blessed and challenged by the youth group.
  • The truth is, sometimes my greatest disappointments are blessings in disguise.

I'm still disappointed that I will miss out on half of my college experience. But, I know that I'm not missing out on the blessings God has planned for me this year, as I continue online.

It's still hard to accept that God wants Brian to have this job. It's still hard to be without friends our age and stage in life. But we have experienced God's blessings.


534. Going to school online may mean that I can spend more time writing and blogging than I would otherwise.

535. Going to school online gives me the flexibility with my schedule to allow for working at my church one day a week.

536. Going to school online last year taught me a lot about writing, design, websites, and communication.

537. Going to school online gives me the opportunity to practice perseverance, patience, and endurance.

538. Going to school online reminds me that God has a plan, and is working everything out for my eventual good.

539. Living in Arizona has forced us to make friends by reaching out to other people instead of waiting to be reached out to.

540. Living in Arizona has made us appreciate the friendships we do have more.

541. Living in Arizona has helped us learn to deal with rejection.

542. Living in Arizona has given us the opportunity to make some wonderful relationships with couples who are more experienced in life.

543. Living in Arizona has provided us with opportunities to grow and stretch our faith.

544. Living in Arizona is where God wants us to be.

545. So many kind comments on my last post and prayers for me and this college situation. I appreciated it so much. I'm so grateful for you!