We've all heard the phrase, "fail to plan, plan to fail." Have you ever planned extensively for something specific to happen, only for it to turn out completely different than you expected? I certainly have! I'm constantly trying to map out my future, whether it's my to-do list for the day or my five year plan. My senior year of high school was no exception!
I thought that I had it all figured out senior year. My plan for success was foolproof! I knew where I was headed for college, I had a perfect schedule, and I was going to win every single award I applied for. Senior year was going to be absolutely perfect.
Or so I thought.
I firmly believe that God has a sense of humor because every single step in my "perfect" plan for senior year never happened. The college I thought I was going to? 600 miles away from where I'm actually going. My schedule? I had to drop a class the first day! Did I win every award? Absolutely not. (I think I won three out of the fifty million things I thought I was going to win.)
In the moment, it felt like I was failing at everything. Every scholarship, every academic award, every test score fell short of my impossibly high standards. I can remember trying so hard to be a National Merit finalist, only to miss it by one point. ONE POINT. I came so close to all of these things, only to be let down. I was mad at myself for failing, but I was also mad at God. How could He let this happen to me? Why couldn't He just follow the plan that I made for my senior year?
I realize now that all of the things I was chasing after were so trivial. My perfect plan was limited to worldly things that fade away. And twenty years from now, nobody is going to care about what I did my senior year of high school! I know now that God didn't follow my plan because it paled in comparison to His plan for me. He had something bigger planned for me than winning some award I could put on my résumé.
There's this song called "New Wine" that I love, and I feel like it fits my senior year experience perfectly. The song opens with this:
"In the crushing
In the pressing
You are making
You have to crush and press and refine the grapes to make wine. God used my so-called failures to refine me and use me for His glory. In the crushing and the pressing that I experienced, God shaped me into a stronger believer and reminded me that I am worth more than my image. All my life I had relied on my own intellect to get me through. I was the "smart girl." My identity was found in my worldly image. God had to break my plans in order to show me that my identity is found in Him, not in the world.
When I started senior year, I wish that I knew how much sweeter life would be by trusting in the Lord. After I finally decided to stop white-knuckling my plans and give them to God with open arms, real change happened in my life. God gave me opportunities that I never would have thought possible! Through Him, I received a scholarship for a speech competition on my first try. It is through God that I gained the courage to start writing. And best of all, trusting in God gave me the opportunity to go to my dream school for college!
My prayer for both you and me is that no matter what season of life we're in, we remember that God has it together. Maybe you're like me. Maybe you have every minute of the next five years scheduled to fit your goals. And that's okay. Plans are great for keeping us focused and organized. But friend, you have to believe that God has an even better plan for you! The crushing and pressing may hurt sometimes, but God is shaping you into the person that you are made to be. Trust that He is doing all of this for good!