Don’t you hate it when God says no? Yeah, me too.
I’ve applied for SEVEN different study abroad programs throughout my time in college.
Spring 2017: withdrawn.
Summer 2017: withdrawn.
Summer 2018: not accepted.
Spring 2019: withdrawn.
Summer 2019: withdrawn.
Spring 2020 (Italy full-semester internship): withdrawn.
Spring 2020 (France language & internship): withdrawn.
*wipes sweat off eyebrows* Oof. That’s my track record on MyWorld, folks. Looking at the number of withdrawals, you’d think I was a cop-out. The number of programs I applied for and never followed through with made me insecure. But, God continued to say no, though I would beg and plead to experience a new culture.
What would someone think if they knew how many times I tried and failed? Would they think I was too weak to step outside of my comfort zone? Even worse – I bet they’d think there’s something wrong with me…
Now I’m not sure who I thought was going to hack onto my study abroad account and discover the number of applications I submitted, but anxiety isn’t rational. And the dialogue lingered in my head. I told my friends I was planning on studying abroad for the upcoming term, then didn’t follow through with the program.
I felt like I was giving up. Like they would think I was flighty or unmotivated or lazy. I don’t know if you have anxiety like me, dear friend. But in case you don’t understand what it feels like, this is exactly it. It makes you think that any and all horrible things will happen to you because you deserve it. And here, my anxiety got the best of me.
Last October, that withdrawal from an application smacked me again.
I had been planning a trip since the following February and it all came crashing down. I told all of my friends and family I was going abroad in the Spring of 2020… and then it didn’t happen. I was frustrated with myself, my advisor and God.
Why do I have this intense desire to experience other cultures and meet people that are different than me and STILL, after SEVEN tries, it does not work out?!?!
I tousled with these frustrations for some time, but eventually came to peace with beginning work in January… until my advisor, out of the blue, told me she had overlooked a few credits on my transcript and informed me that I would need two more classes to graduate. HA well first of all, that frustrated me even more.
“What is going on here??
I thought for sure I was studying abroad, then I thought I’d be done in December, and now I don’t know what is going to happen? I’m confused and tired and frustrated and I just want an answer.”
My anxiety told me I deserved it – all the distress this caused me. And that studying abroad was for the people who don’t have mental health struggles. For people who have their whole life planned out and know exactly what they want out of a program. And for people who can get their sh*t together… people that aren’t me.
My anxiety told me destructive and nasty things, but God? He’s so gentle and kind. He told me that He had a plan – greater than any abroad program I could have ever applied for. His plan was for me to go to Krakow, Poland – a place I have never before thought to study.
And that path? There was no confusion, stress or anxiety. No – that path was lined with peace and grace and an abundance of blessings.
The truth is: I wasn’t ready to study abroad in the Spring of 2017.
Or the Summer of 2017, the Summer of 2018 or any other time I applied and backed out/got rejected. God knew I needed that time to prepare my heart for what was to come. I needed to be humbled and learn to manage my anxiety.
Most of all, I needed to learn to trust God’s plan for my life rather than my own.
All this to say, sometimes we think we have the best plan. Or better yet, we KNOW what the best plan is for our lives. Planning is great; I’m a huge dreamer and planner and always will be. But if the doors keep shutting, wait a while and then knock again. God will pave a beautiful way, though it might be tough to wait until you arrive.
And in the end, you will realize that when God says no, it’s not a punishment. Instead it is God’s way of gifting you with the perfect timing.
Once the door opens, you may not see what you originally hoped for, but that’s actually the best part – because it will be better than anything you could have ever planned or imagined.
P.S. Wanna hear about my journey to Europe?! Check out this post.
P.P.S. If you are a college student planning your trip abroad, I would highly suggest checking out the cheap flight prices on Student Universe. I got my flight for half the normal price here!