When plans don’t go as planned.

My name is Robyn, I am type-A, and I am a planner.

Also, I have a 1 year-old cat.

But the cat’s beside the point.

(It’s just that he’s sitting next to me so cuddly and furry and green-eyed I couldn’t help but mention the puff of joy who likes to bite).

But, back to being a planner.

I plan lots of things, joyfully and meticulously, partnered with slow-sipped second cups of coffee and pencils freshly sharpened. (There’s just something about writing things down instead of typing, something freeing and creative and solid, isn’t there?)

I love to-do lists, grocery lists, big calendars, small agendas, lesson plans, outlines, iCalendars, automatic reminders, blank pages just waiting for words to come fill their spaces, and pens of all colors and sizes to further color-code and organize my well thought-out (and foolproof, right?!) plans.

The teacher in me is nodding an enthusiastic YES! ORGANIZATION! PLANS! Is there anything more satisfying in this constantly changing world? (Other than a perfectly crafted and baked doughy chocolate chip cookie, of course.)

But I digress.

Michael loves that I’m a planner. It helps us a lot.

Planning allows us the freedom to see friends because we carved out the time. It helps us organize finances. It helps me organize my writing into a finished piece. It picked out our wedding colors and turned them into a beautiful scene in which we became husband and wife.

I love that I’m a planner, because I think God made me that way for a reason.

But with all strengths come weaknesses, and this is one of mine: It’s easy for me to rely on my plans. In fact, I LOVE relying on my plans, because they act as my security far too often.

(Surely if we’ve planned it, we can’t fail, right?)

 But plans rarely go–ahem–as planned. Pun intended.

So then what, friends? What happens to the security blanket then – when plans don’t work out? When we get hurt or disappointed despite the amount of planning we’ve done to ensure our success and comfort?

I’ve realized recently when I stop using my owns plans as a security and choose to rely instead on the One who knows me and loves me the most, then I start to really live in the fullness of joy, success looks different to me, and comfort is not a necessity.

And yet, here is the most comforting news of all, dear friends! (Yes, even more comforting than an agenda that gets checked off with a brand new hot pink felt-tip pen.)

As lovers and followers of Jesus, we are held tightly together by our Savior, and not by our well-thought out plans (Col 1:17 “…in Him all things hold together,” emphasis added).

Note, this verse doesn’t say “in flawless plans all things hold together.”

Would someone elect to remind me of this every day? Thanks in advance, friends.

And truly, when I really think about it, how many of my plans have actually turned out the way I thought they would?

And yet, am I okay? Am I living fully?

Yes, and a joyful yes.

But, clearly not because of my own plans.

It took a recent change in my well thought-out career plans to throw me into the loving arms of Jesus and lead me to find my worth in Him, and not in my job title nor in my plans.

It’s humbling. It’s nerve-wracking. And it’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.

Not because of the event itself, but because Jesus had and has His careful hand in every aspect of my life, and when I look and see where I’ve been and what I’m doing now, there’s no doubt in my mind about His goodness and His love for me.

Isn’t it great, this grace? That when our plans don’t work out as we originally hoped, we are held together. We are loved.

And maybe that’s the bigger point of this whole thing than having perfect plans.

 Further, I’ve come to see in a more tangible way that God has His own plans for me – and they are good:

“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 don’t know what exactly these plans are for me at this moment in clear detail, but isn’t that faith, dear friends? Having the knowledge that God created our very hearts and thus the desires within, and has the loving-kindness to give us our hearts’ desires through His good plans for us?

So what then, referring back to Jeremiah 29:11, when we are harmed? When we are disappointed? When we are hurt? Certainly, these painful things will happen, even when we are smack in the middle of God’s good plans for us. Jesus tells us hurtful things will happen (John 16:33).

Could it mean God’s plans have gone awry? Does it mean that I should, indeed, fold and find security in my own painstakingly thought-out plans as an attempt to protect myself from being hurt?

That is the temptation, is it not?

You understand. In the midst of the plans God has for us and the plans we’ve made for ourselves, certainly we’ve been deeply hurt. We’ve been disappointed. We’ve been hurt by circumstances, by those who love us, by those in charge of us, and by those who hardly know us at all.

So what then, dear friends?

Beautiful news! As Christ’s children, we have a promise in those hard circumstances. This promise from our loving Father reveals even more of God’s good plans for us, and it assures us with a burst of light and hope and peace that nothing can change God’s good plans for us:

 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28)

 What a deep sigh of relief. And yet, this verse does not say, “If you are following God’s plan, you will not get hurt.”

Oh, friends. I do not like pain. But the joyful hope and redemption is this: in His good plans, God has a glorious purpose for us in every hurt. Tears spring to my eyes with the joy of this Love.

Here, God not only promises to work all things for our good (meaning, not just the good things – but the bad and hurtful things that happen too), but He also reminds us here that we were chosen for a purpose. For a plan. So when someone hurts us, when circumstances disappoint us, when we get sick, when we feel lost, when our own plans don’t work, these disappointing things will be used for our good by the Father who loves us most and who also promises us a plan for our lives so great we can’t even imagine it (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Considering these truths, I hardly feel the need to rely on or find security in my own plans. I do not feel the need to plan myself into safety. In fact, doing so feels silly.

How could my plan even compare to the plan my Heavenly Father has for me? And since God promises to work all things together for my good, from what must I plan to protect myself?

This is great news, friends!

Perhaps this is what Paul meant when he wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil 4:4).

Paul did not say to rejoice when our plans work out. He said to rejoice always.

Perhaps it’s because he knew that which I am just now understanding: God’s plans for us are truly good and full of hope in every circumstance. And so, we rejoice!

Blessings upon your heart today. Blessings to you on a day planned just for you. Blessings to you who are made for a brilliant and grand purpose so delightful and lovely you can’t even fully understand it until you see Jesus face-to-face. Blessings to you who are safe in Him.

And praise to the God who loves us steadfastly, is faithful always, has good plans for us, and who also created big, blank calendars and multi-colored pens for His beloved planners 🙂

In His steadfast love and grace,

 

Robyn

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him” (Psalm 34:8).

Things Learned As a Young, Jesus-loving Post-Grad Female – Two Years In

1.     Everyone doesn’t have it all together – no matter what Facebook and Instagram make it look like.

        You can see mine and Michael’s wedding pictures on social media, but what you don’t see is the months of pre-marital counseling, hard work, tears, and prayers that got us there with God’s love and help.
        You will see pictures of friends’ new jobs and their smiling faces on the way to their first day of work, but what you don’t see is the months and even years of job searching it took to get them to that exciting day. You are not the only one searching.
        You will see pictures (someday!) on my Instagram of the house that I am so excited to buy. What you won’t see is the year I spent living with my parents to save money on rent.
       As Louie Giglio said, “We don’t Instagram a lot of our reality, do we? If it’s not a good hair day, no selfie today!”
I’m all for sharing delightful, joyful pictures depicting God’s faithfulness and goodness and fluffy kittens and beautiful sunsets and elaborate dinners. My Instagram is proof of that. But I also finally realize that we are all real people behind our social media. No one has it all together. But, praise God! He does. And He holds everything together (Colossians 1:17).
      Jesus said “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, but I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). It takes wisdom and self-control, but I can’t let comparison steal, kill, and destroy my self-worth via social media. Jesus came so that we can have life, and have it abundantly – even if that abundant post-grad life feels different sometimes from those pictures on Facebook because it’s lived under the roof of a parents’ house to save money on rent, is spent searching for a job, is spent working hard for a marriage, or is spent at a job other than the one you wanted right off the bat. Despite the mirage of Facebook and Instagram, everyone is real. And we are promised an abundant life from the One who loves us most.

2.   Being anxious doesn’t add a single hour to anyone’s span of life. Matthew 6:27. I need this reminder daily. Hourly, even.

3.   When having a particularly bad day, it’s best to go do something active and listen to “Gold” by Britt Nicole or any fast songs by Mandisa. Seriously, do it. It will change your day. Mandisa understands – and she’ll make you dance on the treadmill while she’s at it. Really.

4.   On that note – Go for the run! Eat the ice cream, too! Both are glorious treats to end any work day. I would advise eating the ice cream second, however.

5.   Pray for the people who hurt you. Really. It’s healing for you, and it’s a blessing for them. Plus, you need God to do it. That’s the best position to be in.
Praying for hurtful people is hard, sanctifying, and beautifully freeing. I love the God we serve. He heals and blesses us in miraculous ways.

6.   Italian bread crumbs make any meal taste better. Literally. Pasta, chicken, green beans, everything. It’s a good idea to keep the 24 oz can handy in the pantry.

7.   It’s okay to start at square one. In fact, now I think it’s good to start at square one. I think sometimes as graduates we expect to have the jobs our parents had and the house our parents had and the budget our parents had, but what we forget is they started at square one, too. And they worked hard.

8.   Cleaning is a necessary evil. I like to start at square one with cleaning, too. For instance, I’ll put a load in the wash. Then I’ll take a break to watch a Boy Meets World rerun. Next I’ll switch the laundry. And then I’ll watch Love It or List It. Then somehow the cleaning gets done. Michael probably has a lot to do with that. But really, there’s nothing like getting home from work to a vacuumed carpet. It’s the little things.

9.   Coffee.

10.   Focusing on other people around you helps put things into perspective. If you tend toward worrying incessantly (like me) it’s also one of the best cures for anxiety, alongside thankfulness.

11.   Watching Pride and Prejudice is a surefire way to make any bad day better. If you’re female.

12.   You’re beautiful. Praise the Lord! All beautiful, actually – flawless. That’s in the Bible (Song of Solomon 4:7). So it’s true! Woohoo!! Don’t let the “frumpy” days fool or define you.

13.   A wise person once told me, “The work WILL get done.” And it does! It always does! At some point you need to take a break and do something you love. The work will get done. Far better to finish the work refreshed than to finish it cranky and at 1 in the morning.

14.  Reading scripture is not about checking a good deed off your list. It’s about being lovingly reminded in the midst of the busy work week of who you are and to Whom you belong.

15.  Upon entering the working world – give yourself grace. Something I think God has taught me is that He is not checking logged hours of reading the Bible or praying. No, that’s a perfectionist mindset. When you enter the working world, it’s different than college. Much less of your time is your own. Your day looks different. Your job can drain you in ways that a marathon of finals in college doesn’t even come close to. The pressure can feel constant – new employee, you are NOT ALONE in feeling that way! But what God promises is that He is the Constant One (Hebrews 13:8), and He loves to meet us where we are. Jesus surprises me with the reality that spending time with Him isn’t about proving that I love Him. It’s Him proving His steadfast love and graciousness. Performance-based mindsets need humility to receive that love. And about that constant pressure from your job – from personal experience, I bet the pressure is from your own “standards” and I bet you are doing an awesome job. ☺

16.   Your name. Your name happens to be Beloved Child of God (Eph 5:1). The world will try to call you lots of different things. Lots of things. Not always in words, even. Not always bad names, either. But, sometimes we take on burdens and identities based on how someone treats us. It’s a daily choice to remember your true name: Beloved. God has the final say. Rest in that.

17.   But really, above everything else, Jesus. All these good things come from Him. And He is good. All the time (Lamentations 3:22-23).

18.   Coffee. It’s worth mentioning again.

Praise God, for His loving mercy on us post-grads and all His children! ☺

Blessings to you, and peace,

Robyn