I’ve undergone a major shift in thinking since I started college. I used to be a major planner. Always dreaming about the future and making goals for myself. Now I live day to day, sometimes hour to hour.
For awhile, I’ve even thought the “planners” were less enlightened than I. “Wait until life happens, and we’ll see what they think about their future goals after that.” After all, Jesus even said not to be anxious about tomorrow, but to concentrate on today. But I don’t think he meant not to have any goals or preparations made for the future, of course. I thought about how many people actually realize their goals, and how that can be so fulfilling for them if they have kept their priorities straight with God first, and their relationships second. And I decided that maybe, just maybe, I would like to have some plans about my future again. And maybe I could even be wiser about how I prepare for my future now.
Looking back at the goals I’ve made for myself over the last few years… At the beginning of college, I had started to write music, and wanted to do things with worship music. I wrote some songs, they were picked up by some famous worship leaders and played as far away as China, I am told. Then I went to England to study music under Matt Redman. Except when I got there, the program was not really what I expected, and I ended up going home hardly having learned anything about worship. Although I tried get back in any way that I could, including trying to bribe a friend to marry me for British citizenship (ha ha. No, not joking, but I don’t know if I could have gone through with it. Hey, C.S. Lewis did it…), God never opened that door again. I went through a depression for awhile, but regrouped and went back to college.
Then, I redeveloped an old passion of wanting desperately to go overseas to do humanitarian aid work. I imagined myself living in a grass hut with little asian children running about my feet as I taught the locals about the importance of clean water. Being Jesus in a practical way. I even applied for the Peace Corps, but never finished the interviews. Because I met a certain someone that blew all of my future plans to the wind. That person was Nathan, of course. After I met him, I knew that even if I graduated college, went off abroad, and then returned to marry him, I would have picked an adventure, and ultimately myself, over the man that I loved and really wanted to be with. Besides, wouldn’t it be better to go on adventures with him there? He, of course, was game for adventures overseas with me. So we got married and finished college. We were about to move to Chicago to get started in Coffee Ambassadors and were willing to move to Guatemala to work with fair trade coffee and missions, but the same week we graduated, I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant.
It was really hard at first, because our baby meant our plans of living in grass huts wouldn’t occur for quite some time, if ever. That door was closed again. So we regrouped together. I worked out ways that I could work while staying home with the baby, and Nate got a job with a video production company. We dreamed of using his video experience making documentaries over humanitarian aid issues, and fair trade coffee and chocolate. Did quite a bit of research, too, drawing on a trip we had made to Africa the previous summer, and doing some video work with him as cameraman and me as journalist. But, in the mean time, we worked to make ends meet. We would lay in bed at night and brainstorm about ideas we could do and how Jack would be this cool little world-traveled baby who made documentaries…
Three months after Jack was born, Nate died, and every plan we ever made together went crashing down. Basically my entire future as I knew it. Our goals. Growing old together. Our future little girl, “Daisy”, and Jack’s future brother, “Finn”. When people think about young widows, they think of losing a husband, they don’t think of losing an entire future life. And now, I’ve gone to Bosnia with Jack and think that for a single mother to live abroad with her baby is very taxing. Maybe too taxing. Maybe detrimental to her doing her best as a mother. Well, I guess I just speak for myself here.
And, so I wait for my next dream to come again. Based on what I’ve experienced, what is it that God is trying to tell me about making plans? Oh gosh, I feel so utterly stupid saying I still don’t know…
All I know is, I admire people who have dreams, and waded through the good, the bad, and the downright ugly to get there. I want to be one of those people. Jesus went out and lived for others, and I want to do that. One thing about having my plans washed away, though, is that God has UNFAILINGLY always changed my plans for the better. I chose Nathan and would do it over again in a heart beat. Even if I knew how it would all end. And I would rather be a homeless bum than to have astounding accomplishments without Jack by my side.
Perhaps as God brings me hopes and dreams about my future, I’ll have the wisdom to prepare for these while knowing that tomorrow is not promised to me or those I have dreams with. Either way, I’ve at least learned enough not to worry about it. Even though, it feels good to have a glimmer of a spark of hope about my future.