January 24, 2018
On New Year’s Day 2012, Tiffany resolved to quit her addictions for good.
Nine months later, Tiffany found herself doing something she never imagined — standing up during her local PathwayConnect gathering and explaining her addiction to her peers. They sat in silence as she spoke, and then she returned to her seat. They had been discussing addictions like excessive eating and social media. Tiffany knew she needed to speak up — she knew all too well the struggle to overcome addiction.
A New Year’s resolution turned into a realization for Tiffany’s next step
Before joining PathwayConnect, Tiffany struggled to find her identity. Eventually she found herself addicted to tobacco and alcohol and began to feel that she was losing herself. Tiffany didn’t want her young children to look back and remember her in this state and knew a change had to be made.
On New Year’s Day 2012, Tiffany said goodbye to her addictions and has maintained that promise ever since.
A few months after making her resolution, Tiffany received a phone call from her bishop inviting her to give the opening prayer for sacrament meeting the upcoming Sunday. Although she hadn’t attended a Church meeting in years, Tiffany knew she couldn’t say no to the Lord. She accepted the invitation.
I couldn’t tell you every word that was said at the fireside, but I knew that PathwayConnect was my next step.
That Sunday, a member of the bishopric read a letter announcing an informational fireside for the new PathwayConnect program. Intrigued by the idea of getting an education, Tiffany decided to attend.
“I couldn’t tell you every word that was said at the fireside, but I knew that PathwayConnect was my next step,” Tiffany said.
I realized God had another plan for me.
Reserved and unsure, Tiffany committed to try
Right after the fireside, Tiffany excitedly filled out the application but hesitated when she read the recommendation to live the Honor Code. She had only just stopped smoking and drinking a few months before, and she wasn’t sure if she could make it to church every week.
Disappointed, Tiffany deleted her application as doubt and discouragement sank in. She reached out to the service missionaries, Elder and Sister Ward, to break the news. With love and patience, they assured Tiffany that perfection was not expected, but to “strive to live by the BYU-Idaho Honor Code” meant that she would try to live the Word of Wisdom and attend weekly church meetings.
Knowing she couldn’t deny what she felt at the fireside, Tiffany filled out her application once again and clicked submit.
She felt out of place, but a decision to stand up changed her perspective
Tiffany attended the weekly gatherings, but her anxiety increased as the other students seemed to live the “ideal” life that she struggled to obtain. Feelings of being alone and out of place built up until one day, she couldn’t hold back her emotions anymore.
The members of her gathering were discussing their perceived addictions of excessive television and love for chocolate. In an attempt to help her peers understand, Tiffany nervously stood up from her seat and shared her experience.
“My name is Tiffany, and I’m addicted to alcohol and cigarettes. I’ve been sober for nine months. We’re talking about real-life addictions here, the ones that pull us away from the Church, from those we love.”
Through what felt like deafening silence, Tiffany returned to her seat, trying not to make eye contact. After what seemed like an eternity, someone from across the room spoke up.
“My spouse is addicted to painkillers,” they said.
The discussion then changed. Students began to open up to one another and share vulnerable topics. Tiffany felt a strong bond form among the members of her gathering. She finally began to feel like she belonged.
That’s what PathwayConnect and BYU-Idaho are about — bringing God’s children into the fold.
With a new identity and outlook on life, Tiffany realized she was the one in ninety nine
Continuing her education, the discussions and assignments in PathwayConnect paved a path for Tiffany to discover who she really was. Reflecting on her experience, she saw herself as the lost sheep explained in Luke chapter 15. She was the one in ninety-nine. PathwayConnect was the shepherd that brought her back to the fold.
Thanks to Tiffany’s success in PathwayConnect and the strength she found to live the BYU-Idaho Honor Code, she was able to enroll in and eventually earn her bachelor’s degree in marriage and family studies online through BYU-Idaho. With a newfound identity and outlook on life, she realized that everyone is a lost sheep at one point or another — a perspective which carried her through her courses and to love others along the way.
“I realized God had another plan for me,” Tiffany said. “Elder and Sister Ward, along with several of my instructors, became the most influential people in my life. Their kindness, love, and acceptance brought me back into the fold. That’s what PathwayConnect and BYU-Idaho are about — bringing God’s children into the fold.”
Through continuous tender mercies and the willingness to grow, Tiffany graduated with an online bachelor’s degree from BYU-Idaho in 2015 with hopes to someday earn a master’s degree through another university.
Tiffany Anderson was featured in a BYU-Idaho Devotional in June 2017 given by Sister Carma Miller.
Learn more about the degree and certificate options through BYU-Pathway Worldwide.