I had a plan for my life. Even as a child, I knew what my life was supposed to look like. I knew what I wanted it to look like. And I even had the checklist that was to increase the odds that my plan would be successful. I did everything in my power to bring my plan to fruition. But in actuality, very little of it materialized as planned.
“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.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
I remember when my youngest child started school full-time and I reveled in the fact that my house would finally stay clean for a few hours each day! And for the first time in 19 years, I would have a few precious hours to myself during the school day. So I asked God what I should do with this gift of time. I balked when this thought came with such force, “Go back to school.” I responded with a rant.
“What? Are You kidding me? It’s been 20 years since I was in college! That’s the last thing I want to do with my newfound freedom! No thank you! Been there, done that, not going back!”
Visions of lectures, assignments, tests, projects, research papers, and finals came looming in and nearly took my breath away. I rationalized my way out of following His prompting. I was raising five sons and had a home to care for. The current president of the LDS church, Ezra Taft Benson, had admonished all mothers to stay in the home. But most importantly, after all these years of devoting almost every waking hour to my family, I deserved to enjoy some time to myself doing what I wanted to do!
But the thought of finishing my education persisted. And I knew it wasn’t my thought! So I decided it wouldn’t hurt to check into possible options to finish my Elementary Education degree and to get information about financial aid. When I found out that my previous four semesters of college experience had “expired” and that I’d have to start from scratch, I tried to explain to God that it wouldn’t be worth it. I didn’t have the time, money or desire to attend. But He had other plans and wouldn’t let me rest until I was enrolled.
It wasn’t easy, but God was with me. He provided the money so it wasn’t a burden on our limited family finances. When I prayed for “algebra angels” to get me through the required math classes, He sent them! I studied for hours every day and took classes year round, but it all paid off when I graduated with high honors. A few months later, I was teaching in a classroom of my own filled with adorable little kindergartners eager to learn. This was also a time-consuming challenge, but God was in that room inspiring my teaching and blessing my efforts. I was following His plan for me.
It wasn’t until eight years later that I realized why God had sent me back to school. When I was faced with the inevitable demise of my marriage, I had the financial means to support myself. I had the “hope and a future” spoken of in Jeremiah. I had a career and a steady income which allowed me to move forward when the plans I had made to create an “eternal family” fell apart. God shepherded me into a new home when I left the old one. He provided supportive friends when family members turned their backs. I didn’t know what the future held, but He did. I had to trust Him completely, or give up all hope.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he will direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV)
Last year, when the vision I had for my future wasn’t materializing as I’d hoped, I asked God if He had a plan for me. When God answered my prayer in an unexpected way, my plans were obliterated! Leaving the church I’d loved and served for over 50 years was not one of the options I offered Him! But when He spoke, I had to decide whether I was going to move forward with my own plans, or follow Him and His plan. This time, I didn’t waste any time arguing. I chose to accept the invitation to follow Him, and Him alone. In doing so, I was able to walk away from the old life and into a new one with Him.
Again, it hasn’t been easy. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.