Choose Vision Over Provision
Stories from THREAD @ Yale is a four-part series about the life lessons I gained while applying to THREAD, racing to meet the tuition deadline, and sitting side by side with other non-fiction storytellers. They are not new or groundbreaking lessons, but God thought I needed to relive and relearn them.
My alarm went off at 5am. I lifted my reluctant body off of my bed and swung my feet unto my plush carpet. Right as the soles of my feet touched it, deep within me, I heard HIM say, ”You will get in, and you will get a scholarship!”
I winced and shrugged my shoulders.
HIM is the Holy Spirit, and I am wary of him. Discerning his voice has been hit and misses for me over the years. I have fallen flat on my face on several occasions while navigating the still small voice, instructions from scripture, a deep knowing within my spirit and the wise counsel of another. Consequently, I am a guarded sheep, and I’m quite stingy with my trust, even with God. But the echoes of that simple sentence, ”You will get in, and you will get a scholarship!” trailed me through the day, and I was moved to engage with it in prayer. As the words poured out of me, I realized that though I was still somewhat skeptical, I believed I’d get into the program. However, the scholarship part was harder to believe.
Why? I am unlearning scarcity mentality; the limiting belief that the many things I want to do and wish to be are impossible for me because I don’t have the funds or what it takes. So as much as I desired and somewhat believed that I would get into THREAD, I didn’t believe that I’d find the funds and receive a scholarship to cover the couple thousand dollars in tuition.
Then I got the acceptance letter, and the first part of that statement proved to be true. I had crossed the first hurdle, but I was immediately tasked with applying for a scholarship and figuring out tuition, housing, board, and transportation. I applied for a scholarship, and a few days before the deposit was due I got a rejection email.
Moments like that make me wonder if God speaks or leads. I don’t sit around basing every single life decision on his voice, however, I am in a relationship with a God who said he’d lead and direct. Therefore I lean in often for leadership, wisdom, and guidance, and I want to get them and trust them. He did say, “The sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice” [John 10:3–5, NIV]. The rejection email made me wonder if the moment my feet hit my carpet that morning happened. Ignoring all personal historical evidences and experiences, I wondered if God is to be trusted. I wondered if he provides. Then I had to move on. I had to pay my deposit and figure out tuition. By the Friday before the Monday of the final tuition deadline, I was a couple hundred dollars short, well close to $1000. I had made most of the payment, bought a ticket and secured accommodation by picking up extra babysitting hours, paying THREAD first instead of myself and accepting support from my siblings. I was determined to go, and withdrawing was not an option. But still…
That Friday evening, I said to myself, “The people at Yale are people, not gods. I will reach out and ask for a two-week extension.” It was like a moment of revelation for me. I emailed a two-week extension request with the hope that the email will be read over the weekend or early on Monday morning. I woke up on Monday morning to the email offering me a partial scholarship, and it covered the rest of my payments with $5 change. And just like that, a heavy burden was lifted and the statement ”You will get in, and you will get a scholarship,” stood solidly before me chuckling at me.
Last year, when I closed the doors to JostWrite forever, I had one fear. How in the world will I makeup the income? Planning events alone would not cut it, and I had no desire to take on baby-sitting hours beyond a few hours a week if I needed to. Even in my uncertainty regarding my finances, I had a fuzzy vision of what I wanted to do with my skills as a writer. It was a fuzzy vision, but it was a vision nonetheless. I wrote it down and worked it. I worked through the fuzzy vision until some of the fogs fell up. I want to tell stories, became I want to write non-fiction stories. I want to tell stories, became I want to create storytelling projects. I want to tell stories evolved into I want to engage multi-media platforms. This fuzzy vision led me to THREAD and that is the power of vision. This scholarship journey taught me TO ALWAYS ASK FOR WHAT I WANT AND NEED; the worst response I’d get is a no, In my case I got more than a yes, I got a scholarship. However it deeply confirmed to me that PROVISION ALWAYS FOLLOWS VISION, not the other way around. If given the option to choose between vision and provision, I’d choose vision every time, because provision is dependent upon vision and obedience. You may have to choose provision for a season to pay down debts, provide for your family, take care of aging parents, but even in those seasons, I challenge you to lean into protecting your vision and fighting for it. If I lacked vision about where THREAD stood in my plans, I may not have pushed for it. The tuition would have scared me off. Protect vision, because it is life affirming and defining, and it clears the path.
ULTIMATELY, this scholarship journey affirmed to me that GOD SPEAKS TO ME, LEADS ME AND CAN STILL BE TRUSTED. I may have fallen smack on my face, or so it seemed, on several occasions, but it doesn’t mean he didn’t speak.
With these lessons in mind, I packed my bags and flew out to New Haven, Connecticut…