We all have cherished dreams and goals. We make detailed plans and then put in the time, effort, and sometimes money to make them happen, with the expectation that our plans will enable us to achieve our goals and realize our dreams.
And then life happens.
Twenty years ago, I got the idea of becoming a novelist. So I started to pursue that dream. I am now a successful freelance editor, and I have a couple of commercially published books, and I absolutely love what I do for a living. But I still don’t have a published novel.
When my son got married, he and his wife were eager to have children. That didn’t happen for more than a dozen years.
When they finally adopted their first baby a couple of weeks ago, I immediately made arrangements to fly from California to Texas to see my long-awaited grandchild. My hubby suggested I tack on a few days to the visit and do some work-related things so I could count the trip as a tax deduction. Great idea!
About an hour or two after I made the plane reservations, I got slammed with a nasty cold. When I arrived in Texas, I agreed to wear a mask to protect the baby. But since there’s a big concern here about whooping cough, which can kill infants, my son and daughter-in-law also wanted me to get an immunization. I went to a clinic, but the doctor told me the immunization wouldn’t be worthwhile because I was sick and because the vaccine takes two weeks to be effective.
I didn’t want to take any chances with my newborn grandson’s health, and I’d already made plans to visit friends and colleagues in various parts of Texas. So I extended those plans instead of spending more time at my son’s house. One of my sweet writer friends offered to let me stay with her for three days, even though she’s dealing with a son who has cancer.
A stupid cold derailed my plans to love on my precious grandbaby … and the plans my son and daughter-in-law had for getting some help and relief during their first few weeks of parenthood.
Cancer sidetracked my friend Lori’s writing plans … not to mention her son’s career plans when he had to drop out of nursing school, move back home, and become the patient.
What are your dreams and goals? What plans have you made to achieve them? How has “life” interfered with those plans and altered your expectations?
Writers deal with dashed hopes on a regular basis. After spending years learning the craft, honing your skills, and polishing a treasured manuscript, maybe even paying hard-earned money for a professional edit, you finally work up the nerve to submit query letters and proposals … only to receive one rejection after another. Each “no” is a stab to the heart, a dagger that slashes your dreams to shreds.
And yet … the Bible says we are to rejoice always and give thanks for everything (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Everything? Rejections? Infertility? Cancer? Losing a loved one? Being unable to see the grandbaby you dropped everything to come bond with? Surely not those things.
Yep. Even those things.
When life doesn’t go according to our plans, we can whine and moan and complain and question. Or we can trust that God has His own plans for us … and that He truly can work anything and everything out for our good. That doesn’t mean life isn’t sometimes painful. Annoying. Frustrating. Confusing. Heartbreaking. What it means is that we can choose to trust the one who loves us beyond anything we could possibly imagine. The one who knows our future. The one who isn’t surprised at all by the things that come as a total shock to us.
Sometimes rejoicing is a matter of choice. We willingly choose to live according to scriptural principals because we acknowledge that God knows what’s best for us. Can we also intentionally thank the Lord for our circumstances, even if we hate them?
Of course, we don’t have to be happy with everything that’s going on in our lives. But as Christians, we can focus on our loving heavenly Father more than our present circumstances. And put our ultimate trust in Him. Not in doctors or immune systems. Not in query letters or proposals or agents or editors. And certainly not in our elaborately orchestrated plans.
When we focus on God, we’re able to recognize the blessings He provides in the midst of our struggles. As we acknowledge those special gifts from the Lord, we’re better able to let go of our disappointments and expectations, and trust Him with the outcome and results. That perspective makes rejoicing and giving thanks … in everything … seem a little less impossible.
I wouldn’t be able to edit fiction as well if I hadn’t spent years trying to be a good novelist. And although I’m sad about not being able to spend more time with my precious grandbaby, the days I spent with my friend Lori and her sweet family were a tremendous blessing for both of us … and that wouldn’t have happened if I’d gone back to my son’s house right away.
It’s great to have dreams and goals. And to prayerfully and intelligently make plans to achieve them. But when life interrupts those plans … and it will, far too often … choosing to trust the true Orchestrator of our lives makes those detours easier to handle.