12 year old me said that when I “grew up” (we’ll say 25yrs old), I would be an interior designer, married to an Aggie and have little kids who were pretty much the equivalent of small cherubim.
16 year old me said that when I grew up, I would be a graphic designer who lived in the suburbs with a godly husband and planning for three to four children.
20 year old me said that when I grew up, I would be married to a godly man and together we’d run a summer camp. Our four children would eventually spend their summers at camp and our family of six would all be best friends.
(20 year old me also made a pact with a friend that if we were still single at 25, we’d make each other create online dating profiles. Because who’s not married by 25?! If you were a godly southern woman, you’d be making sweet tea for your grandchildren by the time you were 28.)
24 year old me said that since I was allllmost grown up but still unmarried, childless, and career-less, that I was doing something wrong. I still wanted to be a wife and a mom but by now had settled on the dream job being in a middle/high school girl’s discipleship role. So even though most of my friends were either dating, engaged, married, or pregnant, I told myself I was just a little late to the game and it was going to be okay. I still had another year.
L. O. FREAKIN L.
25 and 26 year old me lived in a foreign country, asking people about life and faith and hearing countless life stories of essentially strangers. Which, spoiler, has been awesome. But also nowhere near where I thought I’d be.
When I first considered moving internationally, I was aware that it would mean leaving my comfort zone and could be, as one person said, “putting my life on pause.” I had another person who told me I should instead stay in the States and move to Dallas to put myself in the young adults scene and therefore be more dateable. I liked that idea because that was what I wanted…so I was admittedly frustrated when God kept pushing me out of what I thought was the Promised Land and into the Land of Unknowns.
It’s funny now to look back on my life. In retrospect, 99% of my life has been classified by the Unknown. As far as life markers go, the only one that I could have “predicted” was to go to university at A&M. (But even then I changed my major three times!) All the other things are tied for first place in the “Biggest Surprise” category. However Greece miiiiiight be in the lead. As my time in Greece comes to an end, I am flooded with emotions while I celebrate my time here and grieve what will no longer be. All as I prepare for another journey into the Unknown.
Several times a week now I get asked what’s next for me. I rejoice in the comfort and peace God has provided for the last months as I answer them simply that I don’t know yet. Most times I’ll then explain how it’s been my experience that when I start to make my own plans, God has no problem scratching what I would call Plan-A and moving instead to Plan-That-Did-Not-Exist-And-Was-Never-An-Option-So-What-in-the-World.
I was challenged to adjust my thinking about this when a friend shared on social media about her most recent experience in med school. I’ve known her for almost nine years now and the entire time she has talked about being an OB/GYN so that she can serve women in the Middle East. After years and years of working towards this righteous dream, it took only moments for that dream as she knew it to be destroyed. As she processed through what had happened, I was tempted to think she had written it just for me. “[This] was not my plan A. But I misunderstood God. He said there is no plan B. But I did not have the wisdom to understand His plan A.” She recognized that her dreams to serve in the Middle East are righteous, but “they were limited. [Her] hands are open to what the Father wants because His infinite wisdom is beyond [her] finite understanding and limited vantage point.”
Anyone else want to shout “Amen!”
I’ve been sitting on this post for almost three months now. I’ve come to terms with being in a different place than I expected. It comes easily to say that I don’t know what’s next. I have a lot of peace about the Unknown. But do I believe this Unknown is better than my righteous dreams?
There have been two particular verses that I’ve been meditating on quite regularly:
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. (Proverbs 19:21)
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
I am almost 27 and know of 4 single God-fearing men, think my friends’ kids are cute, and will most likely take yet another job that isn’t in youth ministry. I have never been further away from these things that I’ve asked God for daily (for almost seven years now). I have also never been more okay with where I am.
Some days are easier than others to be so “okay” with where God has me, but it’s undeniable that when I am focused on His will rather than mine, I have an infinitely healthier perspective. I have to fight to believe that God’s ways are higher and better than anything I could imagine. But regardless of if I believe or understand or live like they are, no matter what they’re still better.