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. 

 

 

 

The Committee Meeting

As I was mopping my floors for the first time in a long time today, I had a funny thought. What if God had done interviews of my family and friends when I was somewhere around 19 years old. And he said, Hey, I’m looking for someone to have 10 children and run a household and keep everything in order. What do you think about Esther? I’m pretty sure that none of my family members or friends or roommates would have nominated me for the job. Esther? She’s rather messy. Housework and Esther? Nah. She’s kind of absent-minded too, not real detail oriented. Honestly, I don’t think Esther is much of  kid person, I don’t think she’s even babysat much, and she never tries to hold other people’s babies at church or anything like that. She’s not exactly the crafty, fun, play with kids type. She’s rather sarcastic, that surely can’t be good for raising children. All Esther wants to do is play her piano and read books. I can’t see her taking the time away from that to raise a family. 

 

Ok. So probably my friends and family would be too diplomatic to voice their true feelings, but I’m sure they would have thought at least some of that. 

 

I am visiting, once again, the amazing discovery that God doesn’t always match our callings up with our gifts. Or, to put it another way, we don’t need to work on the areas we are strong in, we need to work on the areas we are weak in. 

 

I can just see it: A committee meeting. God proposes to a couple angels, I’ve got a position open for Stay at Home Mom of Ten, I’m thinking that I’m going to put Esther in this position. The angels raise their eyebrows (I’m going to presume they have eyebrows) and look cautiously at each other. Umm. God, we know that you know everything, so you must be right, but we really don’t see how this is a good fit. Can you explain? 

 

Then God would say, Look, you see how she has been lazy and selfish about helping her mother out with washing dishes for her entire life? Every time she has to wash dishes she has a temper tantrum. See, I’m going to put her in a position where she has to wash up the dishes after 12 people, 3 times a day. She’s going to learn how to change her attitude, stop treating it like a death sentence, and in fact, one day I will teach how to make that time of serving her family, a time when she can put on worship music and worship me. 

 

The angels nod in amazement. Wow, Esther washing dishes and worshiping? Is that possible? 

 

Then God would continue. You see how she’s really messy and doesn’t take care of her belongings? I’m going to surround her with a houseful of people who are equally messy and who also don’t take care of their belongings. She’s going to learn how annoying that is and start taking steps to change it. She’ll also have the ironic position of trying to teach her children how to take care of their belongings. Esther’s mother will find the whole situation very amusing. 

 

The angels grin, yes, I’m sure that will be good payback for her poor mother who’s had to deal with her mess for years. 

 

God will smile, and continue. Yes, and you see how absent-minded she is? I’m going to make her have so many details to keep track of that the only way she’ll be able to do it is by clinging to me and my strength and power every day. She’s going to become a lot more reliant on me. 

 

And you see how she doesn’t even notice the existence of children? I’m going to change her heart and make it so child-focused that she won’t be able to enter a public place without seeing all the kids. And she’ll have a heart for them. And she’ll start praying for them and being kind to them. Only I can change a person’s heart like that. And I’m going to use her own children to make this change. 

 

You see how proud she is? She thinks she’s really smart. I’m going to let her be a mom to ten children and she’s going to learn very quickly that she really doesn’t know much at all. And instead of trying to do everything out of her own ability, she’s going to learn, slowly, how to rely on me for wisdom and direction instead of her own intelligence. 

 

I’m going to take this girl and make her a woman with a heart for me. 

 

The angels get all excited…How long is this going to take God? 

 

God smiles, Her whole life. But what a journey it’s going to be!