Child Life

The Big Plan

I struggle with what exactly to say here that isn’t super dramatic or super cliche. But lately that’s what the pendulum that’s been swinging in my mind.

On March 23, I learned that I did not get accepted to grad school in Illinois. And in the past two weeks, I have learned that I have not moved forward in the selection process at 4 of the 6 hospitals where I applied for an internship. Even typing that leaves a sort of sour taste in my mouth and I’m realizing that I haven’t really spoken the words aloud very much just yet. Maybe it’s a little bit of embarrassment or maybe just disappointment, but yeah. My thoughts have been swinging back and forth from the super cliche “God works all things together for good”-type of thoughts to the super dramatic variety that has me questioning everything from how could I have misunderstood God to do I even still want to pursue this career. (I hear myself being dramatic, don’t you worry. I’m working on it!) Now, that’s not to say that I don’t think that God actually works all things together – He totally does and I believe that He is doing that here too – it’s just a verse that is used so often in comforting others that it has started to become a little cliche at times.

I think there is a certain sense of mourning, a transitional period, when this vision that you held and felt so strongly turns out not to be the path forward at all. It’s a little jarring, to be honest. For months, I felt so called to Illinois for school. Even my family felt strongly that this was where my next steps would take me. I applied to six hospitals also, sure, but I felt so sure that grad school was in my immediate future. But I am reminded of the words found in Isaiah 55, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (v. 8-9, ESV).”

While it’s easy to think that we know something because we are humans and small-minded, we serve a God who is so much bigger than what we can imagine. A big God who dreams big dreams for us. I think we (meaning me) can get so caught up in knowing the next step and knowing exactly what is coming our way when that is just simply not how life works. Just recently, in a perfectly timed message I might add, Bob Goff shared on Twitter, “What if we found out that God’s big plan for our lives is that we wouldn’t spend so much of our time trying to figure out a big plan for our lives? Perhaps He just wants us to love Him and love each other.”

But truthfully, even as cliche as the typical,comforting verses can be, I still wholeheartedly believe them to be true. As disappointed as I feel and as foggy as the road ahead appears to be, I know in my heart and soul that God is not done. I know that He is good and loving and faithful and that the future is beautiful, even if I no longer have a vision of what or where it will be. A dear friend of mine says often that “if it’s not good, than it’s not done” and this isn’t done.

I still have a few more weeks to potentially hear back from the two remaining hospitals where I applied for their child life internships. These next few weeks will be full of prayer and active listening to God. Lately, it feels as if I’m being directed to make a change in my work environment so that is something I am praying through as well. As someone who plans and thinks (usually overthinking) every detail of something, I think this is why this season and this experience is so jarring. But I can’t plan everything, no matter how much I think I am capable of it.

The big plan for our lives can only be directed by the One who can see the big picture, and that places me (and all of us, really) in the most steady and capable hands.

Waiting Well

Since the start of the year, I have been reading through the Bible chronologically each morning and I have to say, I have truly been loving it. Sure, wading through the Old Testament can be daunting and overwhelming but the timing of what I have been reading lately and the pull to read through the entire Bible this year in particular are surely all connected.

Currently, I am in the middle of Deuteronomy as Moses is preparing the Israelites to enter the Promised Land.

I can’t help but feel that it’s not a coincidence that I have been reading through this particular part of the Old Testament at this moment of my life. It’s not a coincidence that I would be reading of Moses leading the Israelites into the wilderness for a 40 year journey to the land that was promised to them by God while they were enslaved in Egypt.

40 years!

While this journey of mine has (thankfully) not lasted 40 years, it was not without great hardship and struggles along the way. What probably kept those people going throughout the 40 years was a great sense of hope that God would do what He said He would do. Was it a perfect 40 years? Of course not. The Israelites lost sight of the vision multiple times and they wavered. They doubted and they rebelled but guess what? God was still there, ready to fulfill His promise to them at the perfect and appointed time.

Waiting
Photo by Matthew Sleeper on Unsplash

Part of what makes their journey and this story resonate so deeply within me is the use of the word “wilderness.” Throughout these past four years, that has been the word that came to mind most often when describing the state of my life and the state of my heart. So much of who I was and what I knew about life was falling away with each new hardship that came my way and wilderness was just the best word to describe it. Just this week, in Shelly Miller’s Sabbath newsletter, she wrote, “Life is a continual paradox of joy and suffering. We tend to avoid the suffering at all costs, but the wilderness is our Harvard and Yale on the true meaning and purpose of life. Without wandering in the desert seasons, the Promised Land is an idealism.”

Yes and Amen.

The promise found in Isaiah 43:19 that God would make “a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” has been a promise that I have clung to for nearly three years. It’s a promise that I heard God himself whisper to me in the midst of the deepest pain that I have known in my 26 years – the moments after hearing that my Aunt Shelia had gone to be with Jesus less than 48 hours after her mother/my grandmother had. You see, the promise of freedom and restoration was what kept the Israelites moving forward and it was this same promise of restoration that nudged me forward as well. The promise whispered at 1:45am that said that He had been with me through all of this and that He was doing something good with this pain – just wait and see. It was more than enough for me to stand, with a broken heart and shaky hands, and do whatever was needed to move towards this vision of hope and restoration.

And so, now I wait.

The immediate aftermath of that promise was a two year season of preparation and of action. I withdrew from a school and master’s program that no longer held any passion in favor of plans and preparations for a new passion and pursuit – becoming a child life specialist. This two year season held more online courses and assignments and it held countless checklists making sure that I had everything needed to submit my applications this year – both to grad school in Illinois and six children’s hospitals across the East Coast and Midwest. But as of March 2, that season of preparation has given way to what I am sitting in now. A season of waiting.

There are no more applications to write. No more resumes to edit and no more transcripts to copy. The work has been done and I’ve begun to realize this past week just how hard waiting is when you’re not the one holding the timeline.

Sitting in this state of just simply waiting and not doing is incredibly difficult since it’s not really in my nature to rest – at least not this much. But there’s truly nothing more that I can do to affect any part of this next season. The work has been done and while it definitely feels strange, it also feels a little unnerving in some ways and I’m finding that I am having to make sure that I am always conscious of the state of my heart in this time.

You see, it’s in these times of waiting that I feel like I can’t hear God as clearly anymore but that’s just what the enemy wants so that he can worm his way in. I can see in some ways how he has already done that – using the stillness and expectancy of this time to try and get my guard down – getting me to think that the longer it takes for me to hear back from any of these places that God really isn’t working in this. And I know He is, friends, even if it’s not visible right at this moment.

In Habakkuk 2:3 (CEV), we read, “At the time I have decided, my words will come true. You can trust what I say
about the future. It may take a long time, but keep on waiting—it will happen!” and it is exactly the burst of fire that my heart needs right now.

I don’t know when I will hear anything about the next steps in this journey and while just simply typing that sends me teetering on the edge of panic and worry, the next thought in my mind is always of Jesus. It’s a gentle reminder to myself that this God I love and serve has a firm grip on me and will, in fact, fulfill each and every promise He ever makes to me. We don’t have to know the timeline to know this heart that wants nothing but the best for us. And that my friends is good news in this season of no news.

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