That Didn’t Go As Planned

By Naomi Rossow

I recently got accepted into Wayne State’s College of Nursing (yay!), but it didn’t work so smoothly. On June 29, I was sitting at work when I got a couple messages from my “nursing applicants” group chat saying that people were starting to get emails about their placement (or lack thereof) in the program. After about 20 agonizing minutes of meticulously checking my email and group chat for any updates, I got an email. The email read:

“Thank you for your application to the Traditional BSN pathway at the Wayne State College of Nursing…The application process is competitive and often the number of applicants exceeds the number of spaces available. As a result, you have been selected as an alternative candidate for the Fall 2021 cohort. We will reevaluate our list of alternative candidates on July 12, 2021.”

With the simple words “alternative candidate” my heart stopped. I didn’t know what to feel. I had mentally prepared for months and months for either an acceptance or declination email, and I had gotten neither.

On one hand, I had the opportunity to get a spot in the program. On the other hand, I had the same opportunity to be declined. I was in the exact position I was in before I had opened that email! In fact, it felt like I had jumped back two weeks in the past, since the new “decision date” was two weeks from when I got that email.

I finished my shift at work and put the email as far out of my mind as I could. But on the inside I was broken and confused. I let those feelings of hurt and betrayal out that evening as I put in headphones, ignored the world, and typed out my emotions. Here is a little bit of what I wrote that night:

“I don’t know what to feel. I know I should be relieved because I am not rejected from the program, and a part of me is. I know disappointment is valid because I didn’t get an acceptance letter. But mostly I feel anger and confusion and doubt… It feels like an acknowledgment of the ‘I am great at what I do, but not the best’ attitude I have had for so long… They [Wayne State] have successfully made me feel inadequate and like my place in their program would be a consolation prize.”

I had been looking forward to and relying on this email with all my heart, and I think I had started to idolize my own plans, the plans I had if I got into the program, and the three back up plans I had in the case I didn’t get in. Getting the one answer I hadn’t planned for felt like God putting a hand on my shoulder and reminding me that my plan is not the ending.

I confided in a friend on the ride home and he suggested that God had put this in my path to test me and remind me to trust my Almighty Father. That stopped me short because I hadn’t thought I was drifting away from God. But of course, God had a plan.

Two weeks later, on July 12 at 8:30am I got an email that read:

“Congratulations! On behalf of the College of Nursing, I am pleased to offer you admission into the Fall 2021 Traditional BSN pathway at Wayne State University College of Nursing.”

When I read that, a powerful wave of relief and joy washed over me with the same intensity confusion had two weeks prior. I excitedly posted on social media, texted my family, called my boyfriend, and updated everyone I could.

That night when I got home from work my family had set up a surprise with a sign, confetti, a balloon, and noise makers. That Thursday at clinic, the staff set up balloons and brought cupcakes and cookies and flowers to celebrate my achievement. It was perfect. And, unlike what I expected while swarmed by anger and fear, it did not feel like a “consolation prize.”

I could only think, “I did it! I am in the College of Nursing! I am going to be a nurse!”

And through all that excitement, it took me at least a day to remember to thank God and celebrate with my Heavenly Father. My first thought when faced with an unprecedented, disappointing, and unwanted event was to blame and be angry at God. And yet, when a similar event brought joy and hope, I forgot to invite Jesus into that celebration.

In his song “Always Good” Andrew Peterson says this:

“This heartache is moving me closer than joy ever could.”

That is what I experienced this month through the journey of my nursing admission decision. I have been reminded through this process that God has a good plan even when, and especially when, it doesn’t match the one I have laid out for myself.

Take a moment to reflect on the events of this past month. What has Jesus been shaping in your heart? Have there been things that went wrong, and you blamed God? Have there been joyful celebrations, and you didn’t think to bring Jesus into the joy? Have your plans or your daily life kept Jesus at an arm’s length? How has Jesus worked through those events despite your heart and mind being distanced?

Pray with me lyrics from the song “Always Good:”

“My God, my God, be near me; there’s nowhere else to go.
And Lord, if You can hear me, please help Your child to know,
that You’re always good, always good.

As we try to believe
what is not meant to be understood,
will You help us to trust
Your intentions for us are still good?”


Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

1 Comment

  1. When I applied to grad school, I also was an alternate. The department secretary who called me assured me that they NEVER had all of the first choices accept their slots, so I was “virtually” assured of a place. Well, NEVER is apparently a relative term, because that year all of the first choices accepted their places. And I went on to Plan B-C- D- E etc., I still sometimes think of how different my life would have been if only, but I have never thought that, really, the alternate route was the way I was supposed to go. So thanks for letting me know.

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