The Lord's Timing
Three semesters after starting BYU, Tiffany Hansen Ottley (BS ’03) felt prompted to leave. “It was one of the weirdest impressions I had ever received,” says Ottley, “I mean, who leaves BYU to find their spouse?” While her college experience was unorthodox, however, Ottley found that it uniquely prepared her to handle other trials down the road.
The prompting to leave school to find a husband came while Ottley was trying to decide on a major. Settling into college had been difficult for Ottley. “I didn’t have a core group of friends,” Ottley explains, “I struggled for a while trying to find my place.” While Ottley was given an answer about a major, she was also prompted to defer enrollment for the time being and return to Washington. She found it difficult to decipher whether the desire was a prompting from God, or a byproduct of loneliness. Still, she trusted in her decision and returned home.
It wasn’t easy, following a path that was so different from the traditional college plans, but Ottley persevered. She met and married her spouse while home, and eventually returned to BYU and graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in 2003. “I learned that when I trust in the Lord’s plan and timing over my own, everything works out for [my] benefit,” Ottley explains. This was a lesson she would have to put into practice a decade later, when, as a young mother of three, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
Like her college experience, the cancer was unexpected. “The diagnosis came as a complete shock,” Ottley says, “I [had] no family history of it, I [was] active and in good health, and I was young.” In fact, her doctor told her there was only a 15% chance it would be cancer. Ottley’s life had taken another turn she didn’t plan on, but once again, putting her trust in the Lord’s timing gave her a new perspective. “Rather than ask ‘why me?’ I asked ‘why not me?’” Ottley explains, “What made me so special that I should go through life free of these kinds of tribulations?”
Ottley put her life in the hands of the Lord and braved the unknown. While battling cancer, she also earned a second degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do, approaching the cancer and the martial arts training with the same humility and patience she did her college career. And she needed every bit of the faith and strength she had learned. During months of treatment, Ottley dealt with painful procedures, separation from her children and the fear of complications.
For Ottley, part of accepting the Lord’s will was understanding that the outcome might not be what she wanted. “I turned to the Lord in prayer and pleaded with Him to help me accept whatever He had in store for me and our family.” She also drew strength from the lessons she’d learned at BYU. “Perseverance, patience, and knowing the Lord loves me and is looking out for me are some of the impactful lessons I have carried with me since graduating.”