When I was a senior in high school, I was going to college for one reason and one reason only: to get my Mrs. degree.
(By the way, this is not something I use in advertising at the college I now work for.)
Anyway, I was also going to get my degree in English, but my ultimate, secret goal was to find true love. As such, and as a devout Catholic, I assumed I needed to go to an uber-Catholic school in order to obtain this degree. Franciscan was the obvious choice, but it was a bit too far away for my liking (and a bit too far away from my budget as well).
Eventually, I narrowed it down to two schools: DeSales University in Pennsylvania and the school I eventually attended and now work at.
While I did really like the other school and its atmosphere, DeSales was the obvious choice. Several Mass times, strong Catholic identity, and I really liked the English faculty. It seemed like a no-brainer to me: Of course God would want me to go there. Why wouldn’t He want me to go to a place that would help me grow in my faith?
The only problem was it was a little bit too far out of my budget as well. Still, I applied for a competitive English scholarship and won, and just needed a few thousand more in aid to make it work. I appealed the school, confident that God would come through and get what I needed.
I waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, about two weeks before the deposit deadline, I heard back that I had not received the aid I needed. I had to go to my “back-up” school.
To say I was crushed was beyond an understatement. What was God doing? Why didn’t He want me to grow closer to Him? What about my beloved, who I somehow just instinctively knew I’d meet in college?
Well, of course, God saw further down the line than I could. He knew that attending the other school would in fact make my faith stronger. He knew that I'd still find a Catholic atmosphere at my alma mater, one that would challenge and shape me. He knew that having Campus Ministry be so small would allow me to make stronger friendships. He knew that the smaller class sizes would allow me to become a leader in a way I’d never imagined. He knew that I’d fall in love with this place so much that it would turn into a career that excites me daily.
And He knew that I was in fact going to get my Mrs. degree. I just didn’t know that my beloved, amazing, devout Catholic husband was going to stay close to home just like me, and that we would indeed find each other in college.
I should have known this too. You see, on the way out the scholarship competition at DeSales, we happened to drive right by my now alma mater. As we drove by, I looked up at the now familiar buildings and heard God whisper in my heart: “Why are you driving past? This is where you’re supposed to be.”
I knew that didn’t come from me, because that is the LAST thing I would tell myself at that moment. It could only be God, and it is the God moment that stays with me to this day. Because He knew what I didn’t, and when I didn’t listen, He forced me to by shutting the door at DeSales.
Now, as I look back over my communications career, I’m realizing that perhaps the appeal I had to the university was not what I thought it was. Perhaps it was an attraction to the patron of the school, St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of communicators. Perhaps the longing in my heart was not to attend that school (as much as I still think it would have been a great experience), but instead God giving me a sneak peek at the work He’d be having me do.
So I didn’t end up going to DeSales, and I am happy that things worked out the way they did. But I still get to claim St. de Sales as a patron, and that’s pretty neat.
St. Francis de Sales, pray for us!