I’ve been MIA from blogging for several days now because Justin and I have been on the road. We’ve been visiting friends and family as always, but Justin also had a job interview in Pittsburgh, and I decided to go with him to check out the city and conduct an apartment search in case we end up moving there.
Okay, here’s the secret that I’ve been holding back for awhile now: back when we were still in China, I applied for graduate school in Pittsburgh.
The recruiter at the engineering firm in Pittsburgh seemed really enthused about Justin and actually dug his resume out of the archives and sought him out for this job–that’s a first, right? It seemed so promising, that I started looking around at schools online, and I eventually talked myself into applying to the University of Pittsburgh (affectionately known to its students as “Pitt”). I uploaded my admissions essay, updated my resume, and got my three references on board with the idea (all the way from China!). And after everything was submitted, I tried my best to just forget about it. I didn’t want to get too excited about something that might not happen, and I certainly didn’t want to tell anyone that I’d applied to a university, just in case I didn’t get accepted.
Well, just a couple of weeks ago, I got my acceptance letter in the mail. And it was really hard not to get excited about it–until I went back online and looked at the tuition rates. That squashed my excitement a little. How on earth would we ever manage to pay so much money? We may as well buy a new car instead! When Justin saw the figures, he nearly blacked out. I had to bring him a cool glass of water and assure myself, “This is probably not going to happen.” And I was okay with that. The recruiter in Pittsburgh had pretty much bailed out on Justin–we hadn’t heard from him in weeks.
But later that day–the SAME day I received my letter in the mail–the recruiter from Pittsburgh called Justin out of the blue. He wanted to interview him over the phone. And about two hours after that phone interview, he emailed Justin to set up another phone interview with the Very Important Person at the engineering firm. And after that interview, he emailed Justin saying that he was interested in interviewing him face-to-face. So off we went to Pittsburgh!
Here’s where it gets really crazy: the day before Justin’s face-to-face interview, I randomly got an email from the University of Pittsburgh. Apparently, they have a very competitive internship program (I remembered reading about it when I first applied, but I didn’t bother because the deadline had already passed), and they had one more spot that needed to be filled, and they thought that I was just the right person to fill that spot. “And by the way,” they wrote casually at the end of the email,”Did we mention that if you accept the internship, we will cover the cost for all of your classes and your books?”
I sat staring at my computer screen for about a minute before it really sunk in, and then I went screaming to Justin in the next room over to come and read my email.
See, the trouble with Christians is that we can never just accept that anything is “random” or “coincidence.” When fortuitous events start happening in our lives, we tend to string them together in meaningful ways (whether they’re meant to be meaningful or not), and we start using phrases like, “this is all a part of God’s plan” or “I can see the hand of God working in my life!” Of course, we generally shy away from those phrases when something bad happens….but when something good happens, we can get really into declaring that we’ve figured out what God’s mindset is, and sometimes we can get a bit carried away. When all of these things happened within just a few short days, I didn’t send a quiet prayer to God saying, “Thanks, God! I’m not sure what you’re doing, but this seems pretty great!” Instead, I started feeling like I knew EXACTLY what God was doing, and I began searching for apartments on Craigslist and boldly bragging on my Facebook status that God was working everything out for me. And I don’t doubt that he is–just not quite in the way that I had imagined…
Justin went to his interview in Pittsburgh dressed really sharp and feeling confident, because we both felt like this was already in the bag–God had pretty much ordained it! However, the day after his interview, Justin got an email from the Very Important Person at the company saying something vague like, “We’ve decided to go in a different direction.” All morning previous to that email, I had literally been humming a tune because I was so happy about the direction our lives were heading in, and then BOOM! I nearly lost my balance when Justin showed me the computer screen. Different direction? What does that mean? Why don’t they want him for the job? I thought this was ours! I though this was all a PART OF GOD’S PLAN! No job means no university, and no internship that would pay for my tuition, and no two bedroom townhome that we just toured yesterday….
I sat down and had a good cry about it, and went through everything from being upset with God for not working this out for us, to being upset with Justin for somehow messing up his interview, to being upset with myself for selfishly thinking that this was all about me. And of course, I had to eventually come to the conclusion that THIS reality was God’s plan, and not the alternate version that I had dreamt up in my mind. Honestly, who am I to think that I KNOW what God is thinking and what his plans are, or to think that I can influence him to do it my way somehow? And who am I to think that he doesn’t somehow have something better (though it is hard for me to imagine anything more perfect right now) in mind for our future? Because really, I don’t even know what I want half of the time. A week ago, I cared nothing about Pittsburgh and had crossed it off of my list of possibilities. Then a few letters and emails and days later, I suddenly wanted it terribly and convinced myself that it was destined to me mine. Should I really be so shattered that it didn’t work out, when tomorrow, I could change my mind and want something completely different?
Justin’s phone is still ringing off the hook with calls from people who seem interested in hiring him, and I think that for now, I should just be grateful for that. Rather than pulling up Craigslist on the computer and looking at apartments in different cities for hours, I should be a bit more relaxed and just WAIT, and take everything in stride. I need to remember sometimes that God is much more than just a vending machine, and he’s much smarter than me so I should trust that his decisions are good. So I’m trying to let Pittsburgh go, and I’m hoping that one day, we’ll look back on this situation and not neccessarily laugh, but perhaps with a little bit of perspective, it will eventually make sense…right?