For as long as I remember I have been a driven person — a planner.
I am not talking about choosing where I want to eat out with friends or what movie to see. While those plans may be nice, I tend to be a little bit more hardcore.
You may know what I am talking about; you may even struggle with the same problem.
I have schedules, planners, calendars, life plans, goals and dreams. I have plans for what I am going to do with my life, plans about where I want to live and what kind of family I would like to have.
In my senior year of high school, I felt the pressure to choose my “life-long” career. Everyone seemed to know what they were doing and where they were headed, even if that is not where they ended up.
So I chose to be an Education major. I even got the engraving of children playing and building blocks on my high school class ring—you know the one that is in the bottom of my jewelry box and hasn’t been worn in years.
Then I went to college, a small Christian university where I planned out my degree plan and chose my classes. But God’s plan was not my plan. After taking two semesters of education classes and observing in the elementary school classroom, I just wasn’t enjoying it. It did not excite me or interest me like it did others I knew.
So I prayed. I struggled. I sought advice from trusted mentors, talked to friends, family and professors. I asked God where He wanted me.
I really wanted to know what the Bible said about it. So I asked my mentor to go through a study with me. We went through the whole Bible and I began to see God’s heart for the nations. How God cares for the vulnerable, the oppressed, the orphan and the widow.
I heard Jesus saying the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19, ESV)
As I prayed and read God’s word my heart began to feel for the broken and weep for the oppressed.
I chose to switch my major to Christian Missions. I also began to volunteer at a domestic violence shelter and begin to feel especially drawn to working with women and children who have been victims of violence—the oppressed and vulnerable.
I chose to do something that is commanded in Scripture. Something I truly felt called to do, something I was passionate about.
So everything was perfect from there on out, right?
Wrong. My plans continued to get the best of me.
I knew that God had called me to “do missions”—whatever that meant. So my senior year of college I applied to graduate school— yes, more school. I knew that God had given me a desire to work with women and children who have been abused and victimized. I was especially drawn to work with those who have been trafficked, after an encounter I had with modern-day slavery on a mission trip to Ghana, West Africa.
This graduate program that I chose had everything I thought I could want. I planned it all perfectly, or so I thought. It was a two-year Social Work master’s program. This program would allow me to work in the field that I wanted to work in and do exactly what I was supposed to do. Or would it?
Once I started the program it sounded good, but the deeper I got into it the more I realized that this is not what I thought at all. I was not able to share my faith with clients or write about it in papers, in fact my faith did not seem to be allowed anywhere. This is not what I planned.
For financial reasons I ended up having to leave the program.
I quickly got a job working with victims of trafficking. I loved this job, especially working with the girls and the freedom to share my faith. But more importantly, it was through this job that I realized that I wanted to be a counselor.
I chose to move back home closer to family in Texas so that eventually I could go back to school. (I know you probably think I am crazy with this constant desire to return to school.)
So here I am. Living in Texas. With my family. Not married. No job. No money to return to school. Not really jibing with my life plan.
But I continue to be stubborn and I think I know why.
Dreams are not bad things. Neither are callings. But God’s plans are not our plans and God’s timeline is definitely nothing near our timeline. So even though I truly believe that God has led me to share His love with women who have been oppressed, it may not happen the way I plan.
I may go through many hills and valleys before I make it to my “dream job,” or maybe my dream job is something that I do not even know exists yet. Maybe I will meet my future husband this year, five years from now or never. I know there will be detours. Perhaps, I will not have the life I want, the family I want or the home I want.
But I know this. I have Jesus. And right now I am called to serve Him where I am. I need to loosen the hold on my plans, schedules and calendars and pray that God uses my life each day to bring glory to Him. I need to let go and learn to trust. I need to love others now, serve others now and give my plans to God.
So even though losing control is a constant struggle in my life and completely against my human nature, I think it is something that I will always have to work on. I need to constantly remind myself that God is always in control and His plans are always better than my plans.
“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 ESV)