We had to make our decision by the next day and we both felt strongly that we should accept our offer to Purdue University for grad school. The subsequent morning Tucker responded to Purdue with a “yes” and paid our $800 down payment. We were Boilermaker bound!
The following week was like bungee jumping off a 1000 foot cliff. There were moments when we were thrilled out of our mind, times where we were absolutely sick, and other times where we thought… “how the heck did we get into this situation?” As the days went on our feelings of excitement turned into pure nausea — for whatever reason our decision to go to Purdue didn’t feel quite right anymore. So even though it seemed wildly insane, we decided to reconsider our options: We could go through with our decision to attend Purdue, we could change course and accept our offer to the University of Utah, or we could not quit the wonderful job we had… just to go back to being poor college students. We were lost.
After much contemplation and oodles of prayers, we decided that we should try accepting our offer to the U of U to see if that felt any better. Fortunately, that decision felt much better and we knew that it was ultimately what we were supposed to do. But to my greatest dismay, we would never see the $800 deposit again.
Once we had finalized our decisions with both of the schools, one question continued to weigh on my mind. “Why did we both feel so good about accepting our offer to Purdue University if that wasn’t the right direction for our family to go?” I also couldn’t help but to think about how many jackets, shoes, and Crunchwrap Supremes I could have purchased with the $800 we had just thrown down the drain.
A story of Elder Jeffery R. Holland resonated in my mind. He was coming home from an off road adventure with his boy when they met a fork in the road. Both Elder Holland and his son felt like they should take the road to the right. After a few hundred yards they came to a dead end. Consequently, they turned around and found that the road to the left was the road that actually lead to their home.
Elder Holland’s son asked why they both felt like they should go right if it was indeed the wrong road. He answered..”I think that the Lord, His wish for us there and His answer to our prayer, was to get us on the right road as quickly as possible with some reassurance, with some understanding that we were on the right road and we didn’t have to worry about it. And in this case, the easiest way to do that was to let us go 400 yards or 500 yards on the wrong road and very quickly know, without a doubt, that it was the wrong road, and therefore, with equal certainty, with equal conviction, that the other one was the right road.”
If Tucker and I had chosen to go to the University of Utah in the first place perhaps we would have felt great about our decision and never looked back. BUT, perhaps we wouldn’t have. Perhaps we would have always wondered if we could have had our “out of state experience” like we had always dreamed of. Perhaps we would have lived our life in regret because we felt like we “settled for the easy road”. Perhaps I would be sporting a new Marmot jacket, with Birkenstock sandals and a pair of Crunchwrap Supreme induced love handles. We may never have felt confident that we were on the right road had we not gone down the wrong road to begin with. There of course, is no way to truly know.
The one thing we can be certain of is that the Lord does know. He knows what people we need to influence in our lives and what people need our influence in their lives. He knows where we need to be and when we need to be there in order to make the greatest impact in the world around us. He knows where our final destination is, and therefore has the greatest ability to lead us there. He may temporarily send us down the wrong road in order to relieve us from future doubt and wonder or simply because the right road for us has not yet been paved…. He, of course, will never lead us down the wrong road if it isn’t ultimately for our good. When we turn our compass over to the Lord, He will make our road trip of a life more exciting, more meaningful, and more joyous than we could ever imagine doing on our own. I have witnessed His ability to do so.