Thursday, May 29, 2014

unanswered prayers

Something that I think everyone struggles with at one point or another is unanswered prayers. It's especially hard when we have a righteous desire and are trying to follow the spirit, but for some reason keep hitting road blocks along the way. It starts to seem impossible that we will ever reach our destination. 

 I've experienced this sensation multiple times in my life, and believe me, I know how frustrating it can be. I've decided to share a story with you of one of my biggest struggles with unanswered prayers, and I hope that by the end of it, you can see a light at the end of the tunnel for your own journey. 


 My high school drama teacher really inspired me, and I felt the spirit telling me pretty early on that I was going to be a drama teacher myself one day. This desire grew with every passing year. 

 So naturally, following the spirit like a good LDS girl, I found out what I needed to do to get into the Theatre Education program here at BYU and got right on it. When it came time to apply, I spent every hour of every day working on that application, planning lesson plans, reading the textbooks cover to cover - not only did I want to get accepted, but I was loving each and every minute of it and just getting more excited to get accepted into the program. 

 Lo and behold, when decisions were sent out, I had been rejected. I met with the program advisors to try to figure out where I went wrong, what I could do better, anything like that. They were really very vague, and I eventually found out that it didn't have much to do with my application and everything to do with a bias against me. One of the women I talked to even went so far as to try to tell me she'd received revelation for me and that I needed to choose a different major. 

 Well, I was frustrated, but undeterred. I worked on my next application for over a year. I sought help and advice every chance I could from both professors and students. I specifically planned my course schedule so that all the classes I was taking would apply toward the theatre education major. The program wasn't getting enough applicants, so they were advertising the major, and I thought I would FOR SURE get accepted this time, since I OBVIOUSLY wanted to be there. 


 The whole situation caused me a LOT of frustration and anger. I couldn't understand what I was doing wrong. I'd prayed about it a million times it seemed like, and I kept getting the answer that I was supposed to be a drama teacher, just like I knew I was. I looked into alternative licensing options, but all the time I was confused why the Lord wasn't just letting me into the program. I mean, I was definitely doing my part! There was nothing else I could do! 

 Last fall, it became painfully clear that there was no way of me getting accepted into the program now. I was going to graduate with a theatre arts studies degree, and would have to find some other way of getting certified. 

As I looked into the different options, I decided to entertain the thought of grad school. I'd never really taken that idea seriously before, because I didn't think I needed it and because, frankly, I didn't think I could get into a decent grad school with my grades. But I went ahead and looked and found two programs in New York that got me excited. One was at the City College of New York (CCNY) and one was at NYU. Both programs would get me a teaching license in theatre for the state of New York, and it would be a masters degree. 

 When I called up the different schools, one of the questions I asked was "What is the average undergraduate GPA of your incoming graduate students?" NYU said that theirs was a 3.5, but they occasionally considered lower GPAs. I basically wrote them off at that point. CCNY said that it was a 2.7, so I thought, "Score! Maybe I can get into a masters program after all!" 

 I went ahead and applied to both, though I had absolutely no expectation of getting into NYU. Imagine my surprise when NYU was the first to respond to my application, with the word "Congratulations!" written at the top of the email. 

 I couldn't breathe. There was absolutely no reason I should have been accepted to that program! 

I couldn't even describe my shock. I was also accepted to CCNY, and I traveled out to New York to visit both schools over General Conference weekend and make my final decision. I was so intimidated and scared at the prospect of being an NYU student. But from the minute I walked on to CCNY's campus, it was utterly clear that I was not supposed to be there. And the closer I got to the welcome reception at NYU, the more I felt the spirit surround me. As I was about to enter the building, I heard the words in my mind, "Why do you think I helped you get in?" 

 So, feeling incredibly blessed and WAY more excited than when I get accepted to BYU, I accepted their offer of admission. I will be starting at NYU in September as a candidate for a Masters in Educational Theatre with certification in theatre, all grades and English, grades 7-12. Two years from now, I will have my teaching license. 

 After all of this happened, I sat back and looked at the last four years. And on looking back, I realized something: if I had been accepted into the Theatre Ed program while here at BYU, I never would have even thought about getting a master's degree. I would have graduated and immediately gotten a job, not once second guessing my decision.  But it is so clear to me that NYU is where I'm supposed to be and that I have SO much more to learn. And now, I'm even considering getting a Ph.D. sometime in the future. 

Heavenly Father knew that I would never have opened that door for myself if I wasn't pushed, so He pushed me. 


 It's awful to hear someone say things like "you'll understand later" or "just be patient." Trust me, I know. But I also know that the Lord does have a plan for each and every one of us. I didn't recognize what was happening in the moment, and it happened so quickly that I almost didn't even register it afterwards. But I know that the Lord is there for me, and I know He's there for you. 

 Your prayers have not gone unheard, no matter how much it might seem that way. You may need to exercise patience, but He will answer them. Of this I have no doubt.