Her pencil just kept scribbling on the paper. And my heart rate shot up a little bit more as she moved further down the paper.
“Your jokes are catching up to you.” I thought in my head.
For months, knowing I was a little behind in school because of changing my major and taking less credits every few semesters so I can give my body a breather or focus more on PT, I had been joking with my friends that I was actually a sophomore. Even though I really thought I was only a semester behind. No big deal.
But a few weeks ago, I sat across from my adviser’s desk as she wrote out a plan for the rest of my college career. By the time she finished, my graduation date was set for either Spring or Fall 2021. A full extra year to year and a half.
“I’m actually a sophomore.” I thought, walking out of the office. Feeling like I was living in a twilight zone.
I bee-lined it to Starbucks. Coffee fixes all my issues, right?
I got my coffee and waited to fix my coffee behind some random guy. As my cousins like to say, I like coffee with my cream.
“Sorry I’m taking so long,” random guy said.
“You’re fine, I’ll be here forever anyways. Spring 2021 to be exact.” Flustered me said.
“What…?”random guy questioned.
I internally face palmed. Any of my best friends know that I ramble when I’m either tired or stressed. In that moment, I was both of those things. I only had 5 hours of sleep a night all week. Thus, I had just informed a fellow coffee addict way too much about my life.
“Nothing. I’m so sorry. Rough morning. I didn’t mean for that to come out. Take your time, no worries.”
He gave me a confused smile and left quickly.
Once I sat down at a table, I literally just stared at the paper that had my future written out on it.
How did this happen?
I was literally sitting across from a friend a few weeks ago, at this exact table. I was telling her that college has made me no stranger to God wrecking my life plans.
Freshman Jordan’s plan: graduate in four years, land a dream job at ESPN and move right to Bristol, Connecticut.
Sophomore Jordan’s plan: realizing I love sports but probably don’t want to work in sports media, my plan turned to healthcare communications. Good. Set. Solid plan.
This year’s plan, thinking I was a Junior: I don’t know. Sports? Eh, maybe. Healthcare? A stronger maybe… can someone just pay me to write?
All I know is that I’m graduating in four years, buying a dog and finding somewhere where my horse can be in my backyard or right around the corner from me. Okay, ambitious I know. But a girl can dream, right?
As I sat at that table again a few weeks ago, clutching my coffee, I realized that my life’s plan just got wrecked. Again. At least the graduating in four years part.
I prayed nobody was watching me, because I definitely felt the tears coming.
“What am I doing? I don’t even have a “dream job” anymore. All I know is I love to write, and I think I’m okay at it. Do I just try to turn my blog into something? Do I finally write a book? I guess I have the time, now that I’m going to be here for two more years. Two more years? I honestly can’t even wrap my head around that.”
My mind was racing.
I started to make a list in my head of things I needed to try or do to attempt to figure out my life.
“Wait. That doesn’t even matter. Because God, you just seem to be a fan of knocking over all my plans. So why even try to plan?”
I stared at the paper some more. I let a few tears fall, not really caring at this point if anyone saw. My phone buzzed.
My brother, Hayden, replied to my frantic text: “Who doesn’t want to be in college longer?”
He’s right. College is fun. Adulthood sounds scary.
Wiping my tears, I thought: “So, what’s my problem?”
Most of your friends will be gone. You’ll be behind on life. You still don’t know what you want or what you’re doing. That’s your problem. One side of my brain said.
But then the probably more logical side of my brain jumped in:
You’re 21. Nobody really knows what they’re doing. This extra year isn’t something to be upset about. Because congrats, you get an extra year to year and a half of the most freedom you’ll ever have, to figure things out.
College is a really special time, and I know this.
It’s a time with some much freedom, so many people and opportunities.
With half a cup of coffee left, I decided to try and listen to the more logical side of my brain and shift my focus around this extra college year that was just plopped in my lap.
I know God has a plan, he must because mine constantly gets wrecked. But I’m learning that that’s something to be grateful for.
So, I’m telling myself that He has a reason for this extra year at UF.
I know that this is more time to invest in really solid people, relationships and community.
I know that it will be a really cool thing to be able to go a full four years with the sophomore girls I lead in bible study.
I know that it’s okay not to have my life and career figured out. But I know that this extra year is a blessing as I try to figure out what I can.
My prayer has become that God will do something special with my victory lap(s) and clearly show me His purpose and reason for keeping me at UF.
But I think the important thing here isn’t about how I get an extra year of college, it’s about plans. I think it’s okay and good to plan.
But where I have tripped up is when I lock in on my plan, with no openness or room for God’s plan for me.
Author Bob Goff is one of my biggest heroes. Fittingly, as I was writing this post, he tweeted this:
“God invites us to be part of His plans, not approve them.”
I’ve spent so much of my life mad because God surprised with something that didn’t fit in my plan. So, I was mad at Him because he didn’t run it by me first.
I’m learning that when your plans get wrecked for God’s plans, it’s one of the most beautiful things that can happen in life.
So today, I'm standing in the rubble of my wrecked plans, expectant and excited for what God has.
The bags under my eyes were heavy, but my smile was big on the other end of our phone call.
I told him about my day, and I remember laughing about something.
“Hey Scooter, you should write when you're happy.”
My dad’s words that came after my recovered laughter confused me a little.
“What do you mean? I do write when I’m happy.” I said.
“I know. But you also turn to writing when you’re struggling a lot of the time. Which isn’t bad, it’s good. But you haven’t put anything on your blog in a while.”
“I know, I’ve just been so busy I –”
“I know, trust me. You have. I’m not critiquing you. I’m just saying. Write when you’re happy.”
My dad was right. I haven’t put anything on here in a while. Reason being 75% actual busyness, and 25% major writers’ block. In fact, a folder now lives on my desktop named “Don’t Press Delete Just Yet”.
Collateral damage of months of writers’ block, where I’d get halfway through something, get frustrated and wonder if I should just trash it. But ultimately, my hope that I’ll come back to it wins and lands it in that folder.
I described my semester as a “rollercoaster” to my friends the other day.
This semester, my lows have felt like true low lows. Some gut-wrenching, like a stomach-flipping, massive rollercoaster drop.
My "last" surgery never seems to actually be the last. And there continues to be uncertainty around whether I’ll have more surgery or not. I’ve had more Hydrocephalus headaches and side effects than ever. I am still fighting chronic pain from my CP. I’ve struggled with feeling change happening in certain relationships close to me. I’ve prayed for a softened heart. And fear has often filled my head as I’ve thought about the future.
But while this semester has been really difficult at some points, my dad was right.
It has also been a really good one. Because I’ve learned a lot about what true joy is.
This semester, my rollercoaster highs have been high highs. Because I’ve learned a lot about what joy can be like, and it is eternal when you get it right.
True joy is early mornings, with coffee, spent in the Word. Even if an early morning means only four hours of sleep the night before.
True joy is remembering on a late-night FaceTime call, full of laughs, that my relationship with my brother will never change. We’ll always be two kids, who have each other’s’ backs and know how to make the other laugh hardest.
True joy is having phone calls with my grandma every Sunday.
True joy is eating pizookies in the middle of a busy week with a best friend, who has been a best friend since high school. And just knowing she’s going to be one of my best friends forever.
True joy is having sophomore girls huddle in my room every Tuesday and getting to witness growth in their walks with Jesus.
True joy is having my junior bible study come over the next night and getting to be challenged and loved by them, better than I deserve.
True joy is answering a friend’s call to “be irresponsible” with her, and going to get ice cream, late at night, when I really, really should be doing homework. True joy is not feeling guilty about it.
True joy is sitting in a parked car, talking to a friend for hours.
True joy is watching my parents together, and their story continue to unfold. True joy is realizing what a great example they have set for me and Hayden. True joy is seeing God’s hand in their story so obviously and tangibly, and something I love seeing and watching more every year.
True joy will always be coming home to an excited dog.
True joy is spending hours on top of my horse, in a big field, forgetting that I’m actually in the busy city of Orlando.
True joy is realizing that my identity is set in Christ. And it doesn’t rest in my grades, my disability or other people.
True joy is realizing that yes, I most likely will wake up in some sort of physical pain every day of my life, but that pain is a daily reminder that I can’t ignore that I need Jesus to get through the day. The joy is in the fact that because of my pain, I can be rooted in what’s important. Because of my pain, it’s hard to waiver from my need for Christ.
True joy is the small things. It’s realizing that the simple things are the things that matter. The things that will last.
This semester has rocked my world in so many ways.
But joy has been the underlying lesson and tone, even in the midst of some really hard stuff.
Dad, you’re right. Writing my words when I’m happy is important.
But I might argue that writing them down when I’m joyful is even more important.
There’s a difference, trust me.
This joy is eternal in ways that happiness never can be.
I’m thankful for a rollercoaster of a semester, growth and more lessons learned.
It’s almost time to say peace out to Fall 2018.
And I’m crazy thankful for all it has put me through.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 15:13 (NIV)