A while back, my husband, Doug, asked me, “How much money would you pay to meet me, knowing what you know now?” I could tell from the look on his face that it was a loaded question. I wanted to make sure I had the right answer. I asked him if that included all that we had, the boys, my amazing in-laws, my family. He said, “Yes. How much money would you pay 6 years ago to have what we have now?” I got a little choked up thinking of the idea of not having what I have now and said, “Everything I had. I would give everything I had.”
Then, he asked me how much money I would pay to meet my best friend, Jolene. (She is the sister I’d never had. We met in college at an expensive private school in Minnesota. She is the friend that comes 1500 miles to visit when you have a baby. She’s the friend who, on days when I am particularly stressed out, Doug has even mentioned, “I think you need to talk to Jolene”. She helps me re-center and put things in perspective. College is a very pivotal time in life and I was grateful for a friend who seemed to see everything the same way that I did.) Jolene is a very important foundation in my life. After considering all that, my response to Doug’s question was, “Everything I had…minus 100 dollars.”
Putting Things in Perspective
Meanwhile, I was just itching to know where this is leading. He worried about how much I had stressed about my student loans. He explained that I just needed to re-frame it a bit and see it from the perspective of not only getting an education but also having important life experiences and meeting pivotal people. If I had not gone to the college I did, I never would have met Jolene. I just had to pay private college tuition for that opportunity.
I met Doug because I attended the (private) pharmacy school that I did. Prior to taking the big entrance exam, I asked my singles ward bishop for a blessing. In the blessing, he stated that my decision to go to pharmacy school would open many doors, including the door that would lead me to my eternal companion. Afterwards, he apologized, saying that, especially with his current calling, he did not like mentioning such things in blessings but felt very strongly that it needed to be said.
Sure enough, when I got into school, I moved to a different part of Salt Lake to decrease my commute time. I met this amazing guy, (which I finally figured out 6 months after meeting him), and we got married. Again, for the “discount price” of private graduate school tuition, I was given the opportunity to meet a life-changing, (or really an eternity-changing), friend.
To put it in terms of a popular credit card commercial:
- Cost of private undergraduate education: More than our car
- Cost of private graduate education: Equivalent to a very fancy house
- Cost of meeting friends that will change everything: Priceless
Another of my life-changing friends, Dianna, gave me a picture of us with a quote from C.S. Lewis. It states, “In friendship…we think that we have chosen our peers. In reality, a few years different in the date of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university over another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting — Any of these chances might have kept us apart. But for a Christian, there are strictly speaking, no chances. A secret Master of Ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to His Disciples, ‘Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you’, can truly say to every group of Christian friends, (and I’d venture to say other friends as well), ‘Ye have not chosen one another, but I have chosen you for one another’. The friendship is not a reward for discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of others.”
I think of friends, old and new, and how many “coincidences” led to us meeting. It is amazing at how blessed I am. I am so grateful for being placed in each other’s paths. (And I am grateful that they are worth more than gold because, sheesh, the ability to end up in their path certainly is costing a lot of gold.)
The Next Generation
Now, we have moved to the next generation of educational decisions. We first moved to our current city when our son was just a few months old. Even though he was so young, I’m a bit of a planner so wanted to scope out school options. (Doug may say that I get a bit obsessed with planning things out WAY in advance.)
It started innocently enough, just looking at college attendance rates in the local high schools, etc. There is a plethora of charter schools here – within one subdivision there can easily be 4 different elementary schools that kids attend. Based on the college statistics, the charters definitely seemed a better option but I still felt unsettled.
A few years later, I had a coworker whose kids attended a different type of private school. The more I learned about the methods and curriculum, the more I wanted to know. We ended up at a different school than my friend but a similar style. As we learned more about the school, I started to feel settled. However, it was not convenient – about 40 minutes away – and it would really stretch our budget. But, since it felt right, we started moving forward.
During the first week of attending the school there was a day that I had driven to the school, then to work, then to school, then home and needed to go back to the school for a meeting after dinner. I thought, “I must be crazy. Why not just go to the public school down the street or the charter school less than a mile away?!? It would save a lot of time and a lot of money.” It wasn’t a prayer, it was just a thought – a frustration at the end of a long day.
Unexpectedly, the Spirit intervened. I felt an impression that it wasn’t crazy and it was exactly what needed to happen. In the years since then, we have absolutely fallen in love with this school, it’s faculty and staff and the ways it has benefited both boys. Important interventions in their growth and development have come about due to the attention and care of their teachers.
Last year, I attended an informational session about the elementary programs at the school. Even though we wouldn’t dream of leaving the school, with both boys there, the financial stretch has gotten a bit more painful. I felt the spirit as I listened to the presentation and I was grateful for a considerate Heavenly Father who again, without my specific request, gently let me know that this was, in fact, the right place for my boys.
A Master Plan
In the book One by One, Elder David A. Bednar lists several examples of individualized divine direction and intervention. It repeatedly states, “I believe that in the work of the Lord there is no such thing as a coincidence. The worth of souls is great in the sight of God.” I know Heavenly Father is involved in the intricacies of our lives. School choice can be an important one – it will shape and mold friendships and characteristics that have the potential to change lives. I know that Heavenly Father loves my boys more than I do and he knows what is best for them – even which school they attend. I appreciate him reminding me that He’s in charge and that He’s right here with me in the everyday decisions.