“Mom, I finally made a decision…Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.” The past eight months of stress didn’t matter anymore; I was going to the college with one of the prettiest campuses, prettiest people, nicest town, everything was perfect. No, I wouldn’t be able to swim, but that didn’t matter, I was going where my mind told me was perfect. I could get away from home, high school, simple nuisances and finally start over. I could make my own decisions: party, study, sleep, whatever I wanted, I could finally grow up.

But I forgot one aspect: God. I find it amazing how strong and quickly God can work.

Throughout my senior year I had been juggling between where I wanted to go to college. I was over the high school experience, recovering from continual years of hurt, and pretty upset with God. “Honey, I think you should look at Wheaton,” my mom said. “Are you kidding me? I am there literally every single day for practice, sorry, not happening,” I responded. I had no intention of attending a school 20 minutes away from home that was so strict you weren’t even allowed to take a breath without someone saying something about it. Despite my resistance, I stumbled upon a recruiting email from Coach Jon Lederhouse in my inbox:

“Mom, how did this get here?”

“I don’t know honey, maybe it’s a sign you should be looking at Wheaton.”

“Please, it says ‘Dear, Anthony’, I only send stuff to coaches with ‘Nick’ on it.”

Leave it to my mom to take initiative for me. I thank God she did because I don’t know where I would be without her. I hesitantly continued talking to Coach, trying my best to say no, but just couldn’t until April 20, 2012.

“I am going to Miami, and that’s that.” I called coach, broke the news, and was just fine with it…until about a week later. Why were all of these insecurities coming back up? Why wouldn’t anyone message me back about rooming? Is something wrong with me? All of my insecurities that I had started to grow out of flew back at me harder than ever. It wasn’t until my sister sat me down after a week of anxiety and asked, “Nick, if all of these things were happening to me, where would you tell me to go?”

“Wheaton,” I responded hesitantly.

“Well, there you have it. And you might want to figure it out quick because tomorrow is May 1.”

The next day I frantically got myself together after school, embarrassingly called Coach back to tell him I changed my mind, and raced my admission deposit over at 4:45, 15 minutes before admissions closed on the national deadline. After all was said and done, I was excited, but still apprehensive. Why did I choose Wheaton? Everything in my head told me Miami, but something else told me Wheaton; I had to stop fighting God and let it happen.

Graduation rolled around and my summer started. I figured, if I am going to go to Wheaton, I better take advantage of all my opportunities, so I signed up for Wheaton Passage: Wilderness Track. On my trip I wrestled with my insecurities, my frustrations with God, and started to repair my weakened faith, all while trying to keep up with debates on ‘5 point Calvinism’, whatever that meant. I struggled, but I got through: and I was ready to move in to campus.

O-Week: The only week where you get to meet 600 people and repeat your hometown, major, and living arrangement every 15 seconds. “What is going on? I really don’t know if this is where I’m supposed to be,” I thought. The week continued, meeting people, going to mixers, and all the ice cream socials I’ll ever need to go to. Finally, the Mastodon March: “Everyone is so excited, this is crazy,” I thought. I had no idea a school so small could have so much energy. After being attacked by the swim team on their annual speedo run, I was finally getting excited. But one thing still made me uncomfortable: all school communion and our class song.

All school rolled around and I was with some people from my floor and sister floor. We were worshiping and having a great time, and then they asked us (the freshmen) to stand up and turn around to face the rest of the school. “What? This was not what I was thinking. This is going to be a huge joke and super awkward,” my friends and I muttered to one another. We haphazardly worked our way through the lyrics we had attempted to learn, giving our best effort, but still feeling awkward. We finished the song, looked up from our pieces of paper, and the whole school was going crazy.

“We love freshmen,” they chanted over and over again.

I couldn’t take everything in at once. All of my fears, doubts, and anxieties seemed to wash away in a split second.

I looked around, processed what was going on, and without a doubt, thought to myself,

“I’m home.”