“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” –Proverbs16:9
If someone had told me years ago that I would be at this place in my life, I would have shot them. No seriously. I had plans. By this time in my life, I was supposed to have graduated from college, be working as a psychologist and, possibly, even married with children. Only life didn’t turn out the way I planned. Instead, I am a single mother working as a substitute teacher. Now, while I love my children and my job (minus the pay schedule) this is not exactly the life I envisioned for myself.
For as long as I could remember, I had one dream and one dream only: to go to college to study psychology and become a psychologist. There was no other dream for me. That’s where my dreams started and ended. I had it planned down to the science. I knew what college I wanted to attend. I knew approximately how long it would take me to finish my bachelors, how many years it would take to get my masters, as well as, my doctorate. As far as the scope of any other details of my life, well, I saw marriage and children in the distant future. It just wasn’t my primary agenda.
But when my dreams didn’t come to fruition, it felt as if someone had knocked the wind out of me. I lived the latter years of my life filled with a lot of regret and bitterness unable to believe that this is what my life had come to.
All I could see were my dreams and my plans, and there was no plan B. I naively assumed that everything would just work out accordingly because I had a plan. So, I wasn’t at all prepared for the opposition that I would face along the journey. I wasn’t prepared not to have the means to stay in college. I was not prepared to have to return home and be reduced to working at a chicken factory to make ends meet and feed my son. I wasn’t prepared to have the doors of my dream slammed in my face multiple times when I tried to go back to college but still couldn’t afford it. Nor, could I get any financial assistance that didn’t require me going into heaps of debt.
When life didn’t turn out the way I planned
I started seeing my dreams as unachievable and found myself settling a lot in life. Maybe, this was the Lord’s will. Or better yet, maybe God had forgotten about me. He doesn’t seem to be hearing my prayers. I even felt like I was being punished by God. Like, maybe God was mad at me for some sin I committed a long time ago that I’m still suffering the consequences for. Maybe, God doesn’t really love me. I mean if He loved me, my life wouldn’t be like this, right?”
So, I stopped dreaming and started living my life in survival mode where I did just enough to keep my head above water. I began talking myself out of doing anything that required any real effort on my part. I didn’t want to put my all into anything just to have it backfire in my face when it didn’t work out. I no longer had the tenacity or the relentlessness required to achieve my dreams. What for? To be fair, I had tried. I gave it all I had. I prayed. I fasted. I prayed some more. I fasted some more. I did everything that I knew how to do. There was nothing else left for me to do except to throw in the towel.
And I did, for years. And quite honestly, I’m still in recovery mode. I’m still trying to put together the pieces of my life. Still trying to figure out where in the world to go from here and how to bounce back from the heart-wrenching disappointment of not having life go as I planned.
But I have found some very encouraging scriptures in God’s Word that has helped me to start dreaming and hoping again. And, I hope it does the same for you.
God has a plan that trumps my plans
Before, I was created and without my input, God had a plan for my life. A good plan. But I was so committed to my own plans for my life, that I failed to consult the Lord to see what His plans were for me. I mean, even though going to college is a good idea, it doesn’t mean it was a “God” idea (and I’m not saying that it wasn’t). But people go to school all of the time to get degrees they never use in the field of work they wind up doing. Or, maybe it just wasn’t the right timing. Who knows?
The point is that our jobs, as Christian women, is to get into the plans of God. Not to ask God to get involved with plans that may or may not be His perfect will for our lives. The Bible encourages us to, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all His righteousness…” (Matthew 6:33) It also encourages us, “To lean not to our own understanding but acknowledge Him in all of our ways so that He can direct our paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) But, we can find comfort in the fact that God has a good plan for our lives even when it’s not what we planned. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Commit Your Plans to the Lord
The Bible encourages us to, “Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” (Proverbs 16:3) Whatever we endeavor to do, we need the Lord’s help. We need to be empowered by His Spirit. Apart from God, we can do nothing. (John 15:5) We should never attempt to pursue our dreams, destiny, or calling without God’s help. We need His wisdom, strength, and loving guidance. This isn’t a one man (woman) show.
And no matter what happens, we can abide in the love of God (John 15:9). When things don’t go the way that we planned, it benefits us to believe that all things are still working together for our good (Romans 8:28) because they’re working according to God’s great plan. In the words of the Allstate commercial, “We’re in good hands.” If God doesn’t allow it, we can rest assured that it’s for good reason. Love is the motivation behind everything that God does or doesn’t allow because love is who God is. (1 John 4:8)
P.U.S.H. Persevere. Until. Something. Happens.
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill
Sometimes we give up too easily because we lack the tenacity to pursue our dreams. So, God allows things to go wrong in our lives to develop in us a characteristic called perseverance. (Romans 5:3-5) Perseverance, the continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition (Merriam Webster), is a necessary characteristic to achieving any God-given dream. All great people who have ever endeavored to be all that God created them to be did it through perseverance. In essence, sometimes all God is saying is, “How bad do you really want it?”
Food for thought:
“After struggling to develop a viable electric light-bulb for months and months, Thomas Edison was interviewed by a young reporter who boldly asked Mr. Edison if he felt like a failure and if he thought he should just give up by now.
Perplexed, Edison replied, “Young man, why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up?
I now know definitively over 9,000 ways that an electric light bulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.”
And shortly after that, and over 10,000 attempts, Edison invented the light bulb.
In closing, keep dreaming and keep hope alive!