what I swore I wouldn't do:
1. work in youth ministry, EVER
2. become a teacher, no matter how many people told me I'd be good at it
3. write as anything more than a spare-time hobby
(I bet you can guess where this is going...)
As a kid, I changed my mind a lot about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I went from a veterinarian to a marine biologist to an author to a teacher (for one very short pre-teen phase) to maybe some sort of part time something? Who knows? I'm not too sure? But as I graduated a rough year of high school, I thought I knew three things with certainty. The first was that I HATED teenagers and never wanted to see high school again, the second was that I was not a fan of the classroom and certainly never wanted to stand at the front of it, and the third was that writing was just fun. It was for me. It was not something I wanted to work at, seriously.
Over the past couple of years, as I've changed jobs and started my first semester of university, I made a lot of choices based on these three things I thought I knew.
I told my parents to knock some sense in me if I ever said "yes" again when my pastor asked me to lead the youth.
I told my academic advisor to take "teaching" right off the list of possible career paths for me. "It's just not an option," I said, with a little laugh, and didn't enroll in any credits that would open that door for me.
"No, writing isn't something I'd consider taking seriously," I told anyone who asked me.
And then everything got a little funky. After turning down my acceptance to a Youth Ministry University program, I said "yes" to my pastor one more time ... and eight months later found myself with a job at my church, as a youth ministry assistant, of all things. (and I LOVED it).
After finishing my first year of university and still not knowing what I wanted to do after, I had a long phone conversation with a friend and all of a sudden, teaching started to look more like an opportunity and less like a career. "That's where the students are," I remember telling her. Those students that I didn't even know I liked ... I realized that there's a lot of love in my heart for them after all, and I wanted to be where they were. I wanted to go back to high school, after all.
The writing is something that has happened recently ... more of a sense that "something is not right" when I don't pay enough attention to it ... a feeling that I am not where I am supposed to be if I don't have time to sit down and edit my novel, or jot down notes for a new story idea.
As hard as I tried to get away from these things - as confused as I was about what I thought I wanted, what I thought I was good at, what I thought I was or wasn't supposed to do, they just kept finding me. I didn't even notice until earlier on this week, when I was driving to a friend's and started to realize just how much of my life was NEVER part of my plan for my life. Clearly, God had other ideas.
I can't even tell you how reassuring this is. I'm still early on in university years and still trying to plan absolutely everything ... and a lot of the time, it stresses me out. I don't know what's going to happen this year, or next, or when I'll graduate, or if this dear little novel of mine will ever see a bookstore display shelf. I don't know how long I'll be working for the church, or exactly what I want to be when I grow up, and so instead of resting in the unknown of God's plan for me, I keep creating my own. I keep making plans and decisions and statements with a certainty I don't feel, and I find myself getting tired. I pray for God's will and guidance, but realized last weekend that I'm often asking Him to show up in the plans I've already made, instead of asking Him to show me His own.
If you had told me two and a half years ago that this is what my life would look like, I would probably have laughed. And then said something like, "okay but I don't really think that will happen", thinking never never never to myself. And now, I don't want to be anywhere else. I did everything I could NOT to end up here, and now I have trouble catching my breath when I think about how much I would have lost if I'd been given exactly what I thought I wanted.
So if any of this sounds like you, I hope this brings a little bit of peace to your soul today. You don't have to have all the answers. You don't have to know where you're going absolutely all the time. And no matter what choices you've made (or are making, maybe scared to death that they're the wrong ones), they are redeemable. And if you're a little scared to let go of your plans and grab onto the ones that God has for you, I get that. I'm there, too. And I'd love to start to figure it out together.
I'm blogging from the car today ... on my way to a friend's cottage! How are you spending your weekend? Whether you're in school or out, do you struggle with the idea of the future? Have you ever made plans and then changed your mind (or had God change it for you)?