I remember the day like it was yesterday. It was my first “big girl job” (aka, I wasn’t working at an ice cream shop anymore). I was the marketing assistant for a small business located down the road from where I was going to college. But I wasn’t just the marketing assistant. I was also the office custodian, which is absolutely hilarious if you know me personally. I hate to clean. I hate it with a passion. And yet it had somehow become part of my job description. Suddenly I was starting to miss the ice cream shop.
On this one particular day, I had locked myself in the women’s bathroom, partly so I could clean it and partly because I wanted to just be alone for a little while (introvert probs). And as I was cleaning one of the toilets, I started to pray. And by pray, I mean tell God how upset I was with what my life looked like at that very moment.
“Lord, what am I doing?”
“Why am I here?”
“How is this supposed to help me?”
“I never said I wanted this.”
“This was never part of the plan.”
That last one was the kicker. I had a plan. And I planned to stick to the plan. I was supposed to go to college, get my teaching degree, meet my husband before graduation, have a ring by spring, teach for five years and then start having kids. That was the plan. No where in the plan did it say I was supposed to be cleaning toilets and working in marketing.
Now, whether you’re a fanatic planner like me or not, you probably have some idea of what you’d like your life to look like someday. You may be planning to climb the corporate ladder at a Fortune 500 company. You may be planning to be a stay-at-home mom. You may be planning to travel the world after college. You may be planning on not having a plan. But no matter what your plan is, we all know that things don’t always turn out how we thought they would. In fact, doesn’t it seem like more often than not our plan falls through? And when it does, we start grumbling to God like I did that day in the girls’ bathroom. We tell God we never asked for this, or we never thought this would happen, or this was never part of our plan. But…please don’t miss this…just because it was never part of YOUR plan, doesn’t mean it was never part of GOD’S plan.
Just to give you some examples (and a good laugh) here was my list of never’s:
“I’m never going to school at Kennesaw State.”
“I’m never going to live at home during college.”
“I’m never going to change my major.”
“I’m never going to work in Information Technology.”
“I’m never going to be one of those girls who’s still single after college.”
I could keep going. But I’ll stop there. And just as an FYI, after changing my major, I graduated from Kennesaw State, while living at home, and I’m currently single and working in the IT field. My point? Never say never.
If I’m being honest, I had perfectly justified reasons for all of these “never’s” when I made them initially. You see, I had dreams. And I had plans. And none of those things I listed above coincided with those dreams and those plans.
What I had to learn (the hard way) was that God’s plans are so much bigger and better than mine. Growing up in church, I heard Ephesians 3:20 recited a million times. I knew God could do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine”. But even though I knew that in my head, part of me still didn’t believe it in my heart. I thought I knew what was best for me. I thought I had everything figured out. I thought I knew exactly what I needed to live the life I wanted to live.
But looking back now, I’m so glad God didn’t allow my plans to workout. I’m grateful He showed me that He always knows best. And I’m thankful that my “never’s” didn’t stay “never’s” forever.
I have experienced so many blessings that I would have completely missed out on had I never done any of those things I said I’d never do. Sure, my life looks absolutely nothing like I thought it would at this point in time. But I’m getting to the point where I’m okay with that.
My dad always tells me that if everything happened how we wanted it to and when we wanted it to, then there would be no need to trust God. Our faith is strengthened and our trust is built when things don’t go our way. When we find ourselves in a place we never thought we’d be (like getting paid to clean the women’s bathroom), we learn to lean on God and trust His plan because ultimately, He is the one in control, and He knows what’s best for us.
So, my challenge to you is this. As you start off the new year, instead of thinking about what you never want to do, or where you could never see yourself being, go to God with an open mind, knowing He wants the best for you, and an open heart, believing that He truly can do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” I promise He will blow you away, if you will just get out of the way.
“’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘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