When Life Doesn’t Turn Out the Way You Expect

Making plans seems to be part in parcel of being human. We have this life laid out in front of us and we feel an urgency to do Something with that life. Everyone around us tells us that we need to be doing Something. We ask little children, What do you want to be when you grow up? We pester our teenagers as soon as they enter high school…What do you think you want to do after high school? College? Which one? What do you want to study? How about the armed forces? Does that sound interesting? Or tech school? You can make good money being an electrician! Have you ever considered going into teaching? 

 

People just can’t leave us alone about our “futures”. And so, naturally, we make plans. We have this life in front of us, we must plan. 

 

Some people make a plan very early in their life and then they follow it, step by faithful step, until they have reached their end goal and entered into the life they always wanted. And we all shake our heads in amazement and say, Yep, I knew they could do it, they’re just that kind of person. 

 

Then there are the people who just can’t settle on any plan. These are the ones that go to college and change their majors five times. Or maybe it’s the ones who pursue job after job, but can never stay in one place for too long. And we shake our heads at them. You just need to get a plan and stick to it!

 

I think for most of the rest of us it goes more like this. We make a plan and pursue it. Then something happens, we discover while student teaching that we really don’t like being around kids. Or maybe an unexpected financial burden arises that keeps us from going to that flight school we always wanted to attend. Or a personal tragedy, a death in our family, awakens a previously unknown desire to enter the medical field or become a hospice nurse. 

 

We all waver and bend as life shoves us this way and that, following whatever road seems to be the right one at the moment. Always making plans. Not always accomplishing those plans. 

 

I am familiar with plans not turning out the way I thought. At the age of 17 I thought I would study piano, become a piano teacher, get married in my mid-twenties and have 2 children. 

 

Yeah. That didn’t happen. (For those of you new to the blog, I dropped out of college after 2 years, married at the age of 20 and have 10 children.) 

 

Some people say that God has an exact plan written out for our lives and that it’s our job to sit still and listen and wait for him to reveal this plan to us. Other people say, God gave you gifts and talents for a reason, pursue those gifts and talents and God will use you wherever you go. I, of course, love to walk the middle road. I’m sure that God has a plan for me, but I don’t think it’s his habit of sharing the details of that plan. Instead he uses our gifts and talents to direct us. He uses earth-shattering events to redirect us. He uses simple self-awareness (hmm, I actually really hate this career) to direct us. He uses people in our lives who build us up or tear us down to send us in search of new paths. He uses whatever he wants to get us where he wants us. And there is a lot of peace in that. I saw an awesome meme the other day:

stupiditymeme

Plans come and go but God is constant and nothing surprises him. I’m going to keep making plans, keep pursuing them…But perhaps it’s not the destination, the fulfilling of the plan, that is so important, but rather the journey along the way. 

 

 

 

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