Despite my age, life has proven to me over and over and over again that nothing really goes as planned. Even now, I remember sitting at the bottom of the student center in a booth with my friends, the sweet, comforting smell of espresso and the laughter of my friends resonating throughout the room. The room was warmly lit, and my pals would drop in before and after classes—and admittedly sometimes during them—just to grab a cup of coffee, have a nice chat with the barista’s, who we all soon made friends with, and simply be with each other. It was only a year ago, and I was making so many plans.
It wasn’t long before I had subconsciously claimed the coffee shop at the bottom of the student center as my favorite place. It was the place I met my first friend in college, the place that brought all of my friends together, it was where I found community, it was a place I met with God—it was the place that harbored my first semester of college.
I had no plans of letting this place go anywhere. If I could, I would have rallied my friends together and chained myself to the dark tinted yellow and green pillars of our space. I would have, and would honestly still do anything for this place to still exist. The laughs, the jokes, the booth-butt-spots, the caramel lattes, the dreams that were born there will only live on in our memories. I remember the pain I felt in the depths of my very being when I walked down there the first day back after winter break and it was painted a hospital white, and the booths, oh heck, the booths, were gone. It was like the point in the story when the protagonist loses everything, the part when we really feel for the main character as they lose the one thing they wanted—I felt like pulling a Job and falling to my knees, tearing my clothes, wearing sackcloths of mourning. I know it was dramatic. It was just a place, right?
Except it was more than just a place for me; it was where I found my place in college.
Despite my desperate love and longing for this place, it was taken away from us in order to suit the plans of another person (a person that obviously didn’t care how much it meant to us). Plans change. And this is just one example of how plans I make in my life tend to change more often than maybe I’d prefer.
Because plans seem to change in a various amount of ways, it can be hard to trust God. It has always been pounded into my brain that God is never changing, that He is consistent through the Good times and the Hard times. It’s almost ironic that an unchanging God created an ever-changing world, but I suppose that could be the point He was making in making things this way.
I’ve mentioned my summer in Leadership Training several times in the posts I’ve made on Quirky Christianity, but I haven’t really gotten into how I got there. In many ways, it was the beginning of a long, Hard, summer in which I ultimately learned about trusting in the Father.
It started with the application process; applying to the YMCA and then to the LT program. I applied for a job in Day Camp and agreed to an interview about a week afterward, and was accepted into LT about the same time. My interview with the Y went about as expected for my first real job interview, and I was told that it would be a few days until I heard whether or not I found out about the job.
Well, a weekend quickly turned into two months. Throughout the course of two months, I sat around impatiently waiting for the email or call that I got the job that everyone said I would definitely get. Everyone who had been in similar shoes before would reassure me consistently, telling me that, “it’ll be any day now.” Eventually, and maybe as you would expect, I grew kind of bitter to the YMCA of the Rockies, and naturally, a little unsure about God’s plans for me over the Summer.
I was hurt because up until then, it felt like God wanted me at LT, He wanted me in Colorado. I had raised all of the support I needed for the program and for the supply I needed out there, and all that I needed was an email that said I was in, that I was accepted. No one could tell me why God was allowing this to happen. Why couldn’t I get the job? And moreover, why wasn’t anyone from the Y telling me that I never got it? Why wouldn’t anyone let me in on the next three months of my life?
As the semester was winding down, I had reached my limit. I needed to know what my plans were, so my friend Cassie and I made a couple phone calls to see what was happening. And that’s when the email was sent out.
Apparently, I had applied for a job at the same time the YMCA had implemented a hiring freeze due to a system malfunction in their computers. Because of this, myself and several others, kind of got screwed over a bit, and because of the situation, I might not have a summer job— which meant LT was out of the question.
As if I needed any more reason to be frustrated with God…I quickly grew impatient. I even found it hard to listen to my friends who knew what they were doing for the summer because I didn’t know. It wasn’t fair. Why did there have to be issues with this of all things? Why did I have to be the one who didn’t know? I began to wonder what God had in mind, and if I could trust Him to give me good things.
Thankfully, a week before the end of classes, I received an email about a job in housekeeping and was able to accept it quickly. I was still hurt though. I wanted the job in Day Camp so much. I knew I would be a great camp counselor, and others had said it about me too. I didn’t understand why God didn’t want me to be in Day Camp; wasn’t that the most practical place for me to be?
God knew what He was doing though, He just couldn’t tell me yet. And when I arrived in LT, after the second week, God finally told me why He wanted me in the housekeeping (and soon in janitorial) and not in Day Camp. I was uncertain, and still hurt, but I understood the product of pain.
When you’re walking through a healing process, there’s typically a lot of crying involved, and I cried a lot in the hallways of random lodges. There were many reasons a job in Day Camp would have been the worst for me.
But I thought I knew what was best for me before what God knows is for me. I allowed my feelings to exceed what God had in store for me. And I forgot Jeremiah 29:11.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Our culture places such a heavy emphasis on having a plan for our futures, and I think we’ve all fallen prey at some point to the pressure of not having it all figured out. Of the many things that God taught me this summer, one of them was that it’s okay if I don’t have it all figured out right now. When we get stressed out about the future, we’re worrying about things that God might not even have coming our way.
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9
There’s an old saying that says God laughs when we make plans; I don’t know how true that is, and there’s nothing in scripture that really backs that statement up, but I think there’s some truth in it when I think about it with an open mind. We can make all the plans that we want, but at the end of the day, we should remember what James says.
“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15
I have this amazing friend, Megan, who lives out this verse in an incredible way, and I don’t even think she knows it, to be honest. I had the amazing chance to live with Meg for my second semester at KSU, and she taught me a lot about planning ahead. She would always say something like, “I’d love to have kids someday, but only if it’s the Lord’s will for me to have them.” I would always giggle a little when she would say such things, but the Truth is, she was being smart about making plans. Meg always inspires me to trust God with my future, regardless of how hard it is for me to do.
I miss the coffee shop in the lower level of the student center, I miss the booths, I miss the laughs. I miss how passionate I was about being a high school teacher. But God, in all His faithfulness, knows my heart. He knows there’s a part of me that lights up when I talk about teaching creative writing or when I talk about doing ministry. He knows where I will be most happy. I made a lot of plans in that little space during my first semester, and I knew I was too stubborn to allow anything to change them. God is greater than our stubbornness though, and He does know what’s best for us, and He does want to give us Good things.
He knows the plans He has for us, and He doesn’t plan to harm us through them. We just gotta trust Him a bit and have some faith.
And I guess a little pixie dust couldn’t hurt either.