Today marks 15 years since I graduated high school. I’m not sure if that makes it a special day or just makes me old! Probably a bit of both, lol! Either way it has sparked some reflection on my life. It has made for a good opportunity to look back and think over what my life and dreams were then, and what they are now.
The day I graduated high school was a big day. I was relieved to have accomplished it (anyone else have that paranoia that everything will fall apart at the last minute). I was excited (and a bit nervous) about moving away to college. I was sad to be leaving my friends. I was proud of myself for having made it through my finals. I was full of big plans and dreams for the future.
My graduation was exactly 1 month before my birthday. At nearly 18 I had a plan. I knew what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be, and what I wanted my life to be like. I was heading off to state university and was going to graduate from there. I would become an international adoption agent specializing in Russian adoptions. While in college I would meet my husband and we would marry, just as my parents had. Eventually we would have 4 kids, 2 boys and 2 girls.
Those were my perfect plans for my perfect life. The thing is, life rarely goes according to our plans. Life is rarely neat and tidy, fitting into the perfect little box we dream up for it. More importantly, God has plans for us that are far better than anything we could imagine. I know, because that’s how it went for me.
Not long after starting college I changed my major. Then I changed it again. And again. Then I changed schools. I transferred to the college my parents had met at and ended up choosing the same major my mom had studied. When I met and started dating a man there it was PERFECT! Everything was falling into place to fit into my perfect little plan for my life. Except it wasn’t. I changed my major (yes, AGAIN). Things ended with that guy. I became quite ill and eventually had to drop out of college because I physically couldn’t handle it anymore. To say I was devastated would be putting it mildly. How could everything seem like it was going ‘right’ and then fall apart? The answer is that they weren’t. Casting Crowns says it perfectly in their new song Just Be Held. They say, “your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place”. How true is that! I felt crushed because nothing was going according to MY plan and to me that felt like my world was falling apart. The problem wasn’t that my world was falling apart, though. It was that I was looking at things from my human perspective and not seeing the big picture that God was seeing.
A short time after moving home I finally (begrudgingly) accepted my diagnosis of Celiac Disease and went gluten-free. What do you know, I suddenly wasn’t too sick to do things! For the first time since childhood I was actually healthy. I enrolled in a local community college to get a few credits under my belt while I figured out what I wanted to do and the next year transferred to a local Christian university. There I met some wonderful, life long friends while I earned a degree in education. That degree led me (well, led most of us, but that is a whole other story) to Arizona. Within 2 months of moving to Arizona and starting my teaching career (two things I NEVER planned to do) I met the man I would marry. I didn’t meet him in the way, place, or time that I had planned, but I met him exactly how God had planned. I had planned on being done with having children by my late 20s. Instead, that was when I started having children. God chose to give us those 4 children (at least 4 for now), and even gave me the 2 boys and 2 girls I had dreamed of. He also planned for me to let my career go and stay home with my children. The funniest part- He chose for me to homeschool my children, which is something I SWORE I would never do (much like I SWORE I would never live in Arizona, hahaha, lesson learned, never say never).
So here I am, 15 years later, looking back on my life. In many ways I am exactly where I hoped I would be. In other ways, I’m light years away! I have grown and changed and been molded by God. He has made me stronger, healthier, more confident, and more secure and passionate about my faith. Many of the circumstances I have faced are ones I would have chosen to bypass or change, because in my human view of things, they weren’t ‘right’ for me. They hurt, they were uncomfortable, they were hard, and sometimes they were exhausting. That’s why I’m so very glad that God is there at the helm, directing this ship. Thank God my plans don’t run things, because they are far inferior to God’s! As it says in Isaiah 55: 8-9,
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
9For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.