Saturday, June 21, 2014

Chapter 1: When the wrong road is the right one.

"I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up."
About a year ago I found myself teaching at Spanish Fork High School, exactly where The Lord wanted me to be, or so I thought. By no small miracle, in early August, what had originally been planned as my student teaching, turned into an internship opportunity with the school I had began coaching football with in late May.  We felt confident that this internship would turn into a full time job and so we set foot for Spanish Fork Utah. We bought a house and finally got settled into our home in mid October. The Lord seemed to be "going before our face" with everything falling into place. My wife felt inspired during that time to attend the local Spanish Ward, even though she did not speak very much Spanish and understood mostly what I had been speaking to our daughter. She made this decision in part because she felt it would be a good opportunity for our oldest daughter to continue learning Spanish, something I had begun by only speaking Spanish to her since her birth. But as is always the case with my wife, most of her decision was based on inspiration. She felt like it was the right thing to do, and so we went, with faith that The Lord would go before us and his angels would bare us up along the way. Well, after attending the branch for a couple of months, I received a call from the Stake Presidency to serve as a second counselor in the bishopric. This stunned me and I obviously felt ill-prepared to accomplish this task. I also, however, knew that The Lord was in charge and so I went along. Maybe this had been the reason for our coming to Spanish Fork.
Months passed and March arrived and with it, a bit of uncertainty. We had felt and had been sure that we would stay in Spanish Fork, but we received some bad news as the month came to an end. My principal, a great teacher and mentor, called me into his office to tell me that despite having anticipated my hire onto his staff the following year, some unforeseen circumstances had come up and he wanted to let me know early that he would not have an available spot for me the next year. So the job hunt began.
Once again though, it seemed that The Lord would prepare the way for something better. Just a few short weeks after learning I would not get the Job I wanted, my mom called with some great news. My dream job in my hometown would be opening in the next few weeks. She told me to get my resume together and be ready, and so I did. The job posted and I turned in my resume, confident I would get the job. The timing seemed perfect, how could I not get the job if God was on my side? Soon the Superintendent called me to confirm my interest and ability to do the job and get my Wyoming license. I assured him that I could and he invited me to a job interview. They had narrowed it down to three candidates. I quietly felt sorry for the other two candidates who clearly did not have a shot. Afterall, even my mom prayed for me to get the job. The weeks passed and May finally came. Time for the job interview. I left for Lovell Wyoming hopeful, but with three other job offers. Ben Lomond High School in Ogden Utah, a private school in Price, Utah and a private school in Las Vegas Nevada. Up to that point I had completed three job interviews and had three job offers in hand. After lengthy discussions with my wife, we had crossed Price and Las Vegas off our list. I would come down to Lovell and Ogden. I did many pros and cons lists and for some reason Ogden kept coming up with more pros than I thought it should have. Somewhere in my heart I knew which school was right for me, but Lovell had always been my dream job. I prayed every night with my wife to know which school would be right for us and where The Lord wanted us. As is the case with many decisions in life, sometimes it does not matter to God which decision we make. As Elder Busche put it, The Lord "is not so much concerned with what you do, but what you do, do it with all your heart." I told The Lord, "If this is the case, then I choose Lovell." Even still as I headed out for Lovell for the 2 day trip, (one day there, wake up for the interview then drive home that night) I felt uneasy about my decision. A conversation that I had with my mom kept coming into my mind. She had told me that "the only way you don't get this job is if someone else's mom needs you to take care of her son more than I need you." I wanted this job so bad that it seemed I was willing to push out the quiet suggestions of the spirit. At the time though, at least I had enough faith to offer this prayer, "God, if they offer me this job I will accept it, so if you want me somewhere else, don't give me this job." That seemed good enough for me and there seemed little chance they would not offer me the job. The interview committee knew and liked me, and they were looking for someone who would be there their whole life. That was me.
I'm not going to go into details about the interview because that's boring. The interview ended and the Superintendent took me on a tour of the school and chatted with me about how I could start a Spanish program to go along with PE teaching and then assured me that they would call me in 3-4 hours with their decision. (They still had 1 more interview to do and then they would choose).
I have to say that those 3 hours were very long and nerve wracking. I sat at home with my hand stuck to my cell phone to make sure I did not miss the call. The phone finally rang and the caller ID on my phone read Lovell School District #2. My heart seemed to stop in my chest. I picked up the phone to hear the superintendents voice on the other end. He said something like "I'm sorry to tell you that we offered the position to someone else." I'm not really sure exactly what he said because my world stopped right there. Everything I had hoped and dreamed over the last month, everything it seemed like God was prepping me for crashed down. I hung up the phone and for the first time in a whileI genuinely struggled to keep the tears back. I told my mom who was the only person in the house, that I did not get the job. I called my wife and tried to hold my emotions in as I told her the bad news. I knew she wanted the job badly I knew she wanted to be there with me to console me and so I tried to be OK. I hung up with my heart in my throat and left without saying goodbye to anyone else. Not even my Grandma who lived just a block away. She was gone shopping and I knew I couldn't keep it in if I went and told her. I had a long 8 hour drive ahead of me and plenty of crying to do. As I drove the long road home, a million thoughts came to my mind. I wanted to be angry but deep down I kept remembering my prayer and my mom's prayer. God wanted me somewhere else and so he made the impossible happen. I didn't get the job. As I sat in my car thinking at the McDonalds drive through in Rock Springs Wyoming, having just completed quite possibly one of the loneliest drives God ever invented (If you have ever driven the road over south pass from Lander to Rock Springs you will know what I'm talking about.), a certain talk kept coming to my mind and I remembered a certain current bush and US Soldier. (A). The words came to my mind, "I am the gardner hear, I know what I want you to be. But I kept thinking, "How could you do this to me, I did everything you asked me to do, I've been faithful to my covenants, I've tried my best to be good, how could you not give me this job." I didn't want be consoled. I must have needed another 3 hours of driving. As I hit the open road, I let the spirit sink in. "I am the gardner here..." I knew The Lord had a different plan for me and that I was needed somewhere else. By the time I hit Spanish Fork Utah think I had accepted this for a fact. God was in charge and I needed to trust Him.
Looking back I have often wondered, if that job wasn't the right one for me, then why did I have to drive 16 lonely hours in two days to find out? Why didn't God spare me the trouble and the long road? While I believe there are many reasons, one stands out in my mind. And it has to do with knowing the wrong road and the right road. I believe that God sent me down that wrong path so that now, a year later I could be certain that it was indeed the wrong path. I believe that he sent me down that path so that I didn't have to spend 5 years going down the path that I'm on, wondering if it was the right one. I know that going to Ben Lomond High School was the right path because God had enough Love and foresight to send me down the wrong path first.

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