“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”Proverbs 3:5-6, ESV
I’ve been a Type A, list-making, productivity addict planner most of my life. I always look forward to buying a shiny new calendar/planner every year and color coding every meeting, appointment, and occasion all the way down to church on Sunday mornings (just in case I forget that I go every week at the same time, ha). If you’ve read my previous post, “Big Decision Bumbles: College Edition”, you’ll remember that I started taking the SAT in the 8th grade and visiting colleges as a high school freshman. I think I was a freshman in college when I decided grad school was in my future, and I began planning accordingly. Although I hired a wedding planner when I was engaged, I hardly used her; at our meetings, I was explaining to her everything I had researched and the specific plans I had crafted and handing her minute-by-minute highlighted schedules for every person in my family and wedding party for my whole wedding weekend. She told me she had never experienced a bride quite like me, and I took that as a compliment.
Needless to say, I like having at least a five year plan, if I can manage it, and I’m only 25. However, as I approached the end of grad school, I realized I hadn’t been able to think much past what would happen after graduation, aside from the fact that I needed a job. Once I had landed that, I entered a season of what I like to think of as wandering in the wilderness; I didn’t know exactly what I was doing or where I’d be in five or ten years, and I had to be okay with that. There was no longer a class to ace or a semester to get through or an internship to nab. It was just me, showing up for work and doing my best job. In fact, the job I took didn’t even really have any opportunities for promotion; I was one of three social workers in a small company with only two other positions: president and vice president. Even outside of my career, Ben and I were married, far from ready to start a family of our own, and just figuring out how to live life together. I literally went from a life of constantly working toward the next goal to just “being”. It wasn’t a bad feeling, but definitely a strange one in a lot of ways, and one I had to adjust to.
Eventually, after about a year into my career and almost three years into marriage, I started to want more. First it was a dog, so we got one (and it’s been AMAZING), but that was the end of that. Then I wanted a home of my own, which you all are more than familiar with at this point (feel free to revisit “Making A Home: Choosing Satisfaction Where You’re Planted” and “Thankful Thursday: My Local Church, My Little Town, & Home” if you need a refresher). And then, somewhat out of necessity, I wanted a new job, which I’m still in the process of procuring. All this, I believe, stems from my need to plan, which stems from my need to be in control. For some reason, I struggle with feeling discomfort when there’s not another “thing” to reach and work for, when there’s not something I can plan for, so I create these things for myself in often unhealthy ways. In the midst of my attempts to plan, I’ve let my heart long for the things of this world instead of dwell on the things of Heaven. I’ve fixed my eyes on the next prize instead of trusting in the will and timing of the Father, and in the process I’ve allowed myself to become desperate and discouraged for really no other reasons than the empty, false ones I’ve created for myself.
Right now, I am struggling in my current job and applying to others on a daily basis. I haven’t gotten any callbacks or interviews, but I know I need to trust that God will open doors in His timing, and that I should be thankful for the ones He’s closing, and I am. Sometimes I spend way too much time perusing realty sites searching for a home that is out of our reach financially and not meant for us in this season of life as we work to pay of debt and wait for Ben to finish grad school. I want to know where we’ll be living and how much money we’ll be making and what job I’ll have this time next year, but the reality is there is absolutely no way for me to know what’s going to happen tomorrow, much less next year. My need to plan, my need to control, my need to know what’s coming next creates in me an anxiety and a lack of contentment that steals my joy and robs me of a grateful heart. Really what I need is to learn to wait, to be patient, to be still, to choose joy, to be content, and to trust that God will provide my daily needs in abundance. He’s the God of the universe, after all. And who knows, maybe the Lord wants to bless me with some pretty awesome surprises, which can’t happen if I know exactly what tomorrow or next month or next year will look like!
So what are some practices that have helped me trust God more as a planner? I’ve alluded to a few of them already, but here are just some of the ways God has helped me work through my need for control:
1. Confession. Coming to the Lord and acknowledging my sin before Him sheds light on it and reduces its power and temptation. God says in 1 John 1:19, ESV that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
2. Prayer. I have to constantly ask the Lord for help, to take from me the unhealthy desires of my heart and the anxiety, envy, and longing that sometimes come with wanting to plan and control a future that isn’t in my hands. The Bible says in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
3. Intentional Thanksgiving. When I set my mind on all that I have to be thankful for, it’s much harder to wish I had something else to look forward to or prepare for. Counting my blessings guards my heart against the temptation to look ahead instead of enjoying what God has given me to love and steward right in this moment. In Psalm 107:8-9, we are encouraged to “give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” He is able, if I’ll allow it, to take away my hunger and thirst and replace them with the most fulfilling satisfaction.
This is a daily struggle for me. But, God, in His faithfulness and grace and unconditional love for me, is kindly and gently teaching me through my season of discomfort. He does remind me often of all I have to be thankful for (and you thought those “Thankful Thursday” posts were for you, ha!) and shows me in real, tangible ways how He is providing for me and our family and intentionally drawing good out of every moment and circumstance. I am trying very hard to lean into the unknown, to embrace the lack of a plan as freedom to move and grow and change instead of a gaping hole in my future. It’s tough, but it’s good, and the more I allow God to mold me into a more trusting daughter, the more excited I feel to wait and watch and see what He’s up to.
My friends, this week I’d like to ask you to pray for me as I walk through this learning process with my God and myself. He’s doing awesome things in my heart and in our lives, and it feels good in a lot of ways to simply trust in Him; takes some pressure off, honestly! However, I still need some work in this area and hope that as I continue to lean into His teachings that I will feel more and more liberated. That is what Jesus came to give us, after all: freedom!
As always, I appreciate your readership and support and am so grateful to have the opportunity to share my heart and journey with you all. Thanks for following along, for sharing content with others when you find it encouraging, and for giving me feedback to keep me excited and motivated as this baby blog continues to grow. Y’all are the best, keep on bumbling beautifully, and have a great week!