“An arrow can only be released by first pulling it back. When life pulls you back, it simply means you’re launching into something amazing.”
I saw this quote scroll across Facebook some time ago, but it’s one that has stuck with me. I’m going to try to share this post in the most humble and grateful way that I can.
What happens when your Plan A fails? Go to Plan B. What happens when your Plan B fails? Go to Plan C. What happens your Plan C fails……?
CJ and I used to joke that we were on Plan XXX.
When we got married, we had a plan. We would move to Florida, be here for 6 months, be relocated elsewhere with my job, CJ would be accepted into a Physical Therapist program in our new city, he would graduate, I would quit my job, and we would start a family.
Plans are a good thing. We need to have goals, aspirations, and organization. But do you know how much of our plan worked out? Not. One. Bit. We’re going on 5 years in Florida, PT school has drifted from our minds, we have started our family, and I work full-time.
Now, I don’t want you to think that this is going to be a whiny “wahhh my life didn’t follow my exact plan” type of post or that I am going to be negative and Eeyore-like. Quite the opposite, actually. Is my life different from what I planned? A million times YES. Has it been an easy process to endure? Absolutely not. Am I happy with the direction it’s going? 100 million zillion times YES. Is the wild ride over? No way Jose.
**Sidenote** (This was not in my original idea for this post, but I thought it was too interesting not to share. We are all about adjusting our “plans” in this one anyways, right? 😉 )
I was looking at a couple different translations of Jeremiah 29:11. The one I have memorized is the NIV:
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.
But check out the New King James Version…
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Take in for a moment what that says…God, in all his infinite wisdom and power, thinks about YOU. He thinks thoughts towards you. He has plans for you. He thinks about me…judgmental, sassy, bossy me. Not only does he think about me, he has plans for me…good, great and wonderful plans.
But what really got my attention was the King James Version…
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
An expected end? Isn’t that what I’m try to achieve with all of my planning? I am not suggesting that God will give us all of the answers to life’s mysteries when we want them. God has plans for all of us while we are here on Earth. He wants good things not only for those who love him, but even for those who don’t (Matthew 5:45). But the reason that Christians have hope and a future is because we already know the ultimate outcome: those who love God and obey his commandments will be with him forever in Heaven.
Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.
I won’t load you up with all the details, but as our plan began to unravel, we found ourselves asking “well…now what?” I can’t tell you how many times we asked that question over the past 5 years; when we were told we’d be staying in Lakeland, when CJ didn’t get accepted to PT school, when I wished with all my might to be sick so that I wouldn’t have to face a bad work environment, when no one in central Florida seemed to be hiring men with bachelor’s degrees, when seemingly good opportunities turned out to not be what they seemed, when CJ wrestled with finding a fulfilling career path, when he worked 2nd shift and we felt more like roommates than husband and wife…now what? I remember specifically praying for wisdom and peace if a certain job opportunity for CJ didn’t work out, because I would have such a hard time understanding why he couldn’t catch a break or have a fulfilling career.
Frustration and desperation are understatements. There were many tearful nights, questioning of what he had done wrong to deserve these struggles, feelings of inadequacy, and gut-wrenching sorrow as we felt helpless watching each other suffer.
Throughout these times, we knew that God was in control even though it was oh so hard to see it sometimes. That he had a plan for our family. That it “wouldn’t always be this way.”
CJ has a heart for kids and a love of the Truth. In the back of his mind this whole time, he had considered pursuing Youth Ministry, but hadn’t taken it seriously. We toyed with the idea a few times, but always shied away because of uncertainty and the drastic shift in our “plan.” After some soul-searching and encouragement from close friends, he decided to take the plunge. He applied to the Florida School of Preaching at the end of 2016, put in his notice at work, and began seeking financial support. As soon as he did, it was like a lightbulb went off – an “A-Ha!” moment…things began to fall into place. He felt like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders; like he has found his purpose. People started telling him how they’d always thought he would be a wonderful Youth Minister and how excited they were not only for him, but the lives that he would influence. And, by the grace of God, we have enough financial support to meet more than just our basic needs.
I always thought that I would enjoy being a minister’s wife, but I never thought it would be my life. Well, now it is (or will soon be in 2 short years)! I’ve been working really hard on myself; to be more diligent in my Bible study, to be patient, and to grow in wisdom and understanding so that I will be ready to be the best support for him that I can be. I am so proud of him…for who he is, and who he is becoming.
It is with the utmost sincerity of heart that I say how grateful I am to be on this side of our uncertainties. He wakes up every day excited to learn and to one day teach others. We aren’t living for the weekends. We get to actually eat dinner together on a regular basis for the first time in our married life! We get to spend time together with Avery in the evenings.
One thing I strive for in this blog is transparency. I know all too well how lonely it can feel to be going through struggles that no one else seems to have. You start comparing (that’s a no-no…I’ve already written about it, but still, it happens). You start wishing. You start envying.
I didn’t trust God through this process near as much as I should have. I knew that he had a plan, we just had to find it, but more often than not I let my stress and anxiety get the best of me. But now, it all makes sense! Hindsight is always 20/20, but I can see him working in our lives this whole time. How so many doors were slammed in our face so that he could lead us to the RIGHT one. How being in Lakeland has led to life-long friendships. How CJ’s job in sales made him more confident and outgoing. How my difficult work situation reminds me to not take my current job for granted. How Avery was born at the perfect time to get loved on by her Florida grandma all day. So many things fell into place at exactly the right time to lead us to where we are today…just as God had planned.
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.
I don’t want to give the impression that everything was a struggle, or that we were depressed and unhappy this whole time. We’ve traveled and had experiences that most people our age aren’t able to enjoy. We’ve taken up new hobbies and learned new skills. We’ve enjoyed the “regular” days together as husband and wife. These years have brought us closer together as we have endured and overcome obstacles. We’ve matured (spiritually and emotionally), gained more wisdom, learned to be good stewards, and now have all kinds of life experience we can use to uplift and encourage others
I have no doubt that we will face struggles in the future, be it financial, health-related, job-related, parenting-related….all of the above. But I want to look back at this time as a reminder that even when I don’t understand, or can’t see our next move, that God is in control and that his plan for me is always better than anything I have planned for myself.
“Put God first, and everything else will fall into place.”
-Terry Anderson (AKA my Mom)