So…in speaking with several people answering the question, Did your life turn out like you thought it would? I was prompted to reflect on my own life. It seems this is the time of year that soon to be graduating seniors get grilled for “what’s next?” Magically they are supposed to know the answer. For some reason folks think that when you graduate from high school there is a neatly packaged road map for life that you follow. Nope. Not sure what the stats would say, but I would be that the majority of people would tell you that their lives are far different from what they ever dreamed. For some life is better, others not so much. On Facebook recently there’s been a little wave of “what I did when I was (X) age” and “what I am doing now” type of posts. They have revealed what I assume is more true of most…life has definitely unfolded differently than was expected.
For me…I was definitely going to marry later in life. Planned to finish school, go to college, then travel the world with my good friend Brenda and teach English in faraway exotic places. We would talk about this plan (actually she did follow this plan for a while!) and I would be so excited to think of the places I would go and the people I would meet. Hmmm. So, at age 15, when I returned from Bolivia and met this red-headed guy in youth group who I thought was a little over the top goofing around with his buddies, I had no idea that sparks would fly and at 16 we’d start dating, at 18 I would marry him and about the age I would have graduated from college I would be mom to 3 beautiful little girls! Yep, life definitely unfolded differently than I had planned!
Next chapter, new plan. I loved the way life unfolded. In the next chapter I decided I would remain a stay-at-home mom forever. It was the best. Hard work, but I was totally in, trying to create the best environment my girls could ask for in which to grow and thrive. I completely failed sometimes and despite myself succeeded in other areas – and to date, it appears my girls are actually self-sufficient functioning adults! Whew! Well, somehow life unfolded differently once again. Despite thoughts of never working outside the home, it soon became apparent that some of our goals would be accomplished much quicker if I was able to contribute and so I sought the best of both worlds…working in a school with the same hours my girls were in school and being off on days they were off! It was a great season and I was able to be very involved in their classrooms and advocate for them with their teachers. We were fortunate to have some wonderful teachers along the way and to this day I’m grateful for their impact in the lives of my girls.
Well. Enter another unexpected detour of sorts…despite my saying, “Nope, don’t need it.” in response to pursuing my college degree, I decided to enroll at Regis University to finish my undergrad. Over about five years little by little, once a week, from 6 – 10 pm, rotating through every campus Regis has up and down the front range, year round, I would chip away at my degree until the amazing day when a Hallmark moment happened on the cuad on Regis’ campus…me running into my husbands congratulatory embrace, thankful for the hard work paying off with my degree (or at least the cool display cover – until the real one came in the mail) in hand! Whoop! But even in that little chapter, things kept changing. I began my degree journey with the intention of being a teacher and ended up moving into a Liberal Arts degree. And in the middle of that time I changed jobs from the school district to a non-profit organization where I spent about 8 years learning so many things about business – marketing, fundraising, strategic planning. It’s really where I felt like I grew up in the business world. It appeared then that I’d found a home where I would work for years to come, respectfully retire someday and there you have it.
Nope – life unfolded. I found myself moving to another non-profit for a few years and finally ended up where I am today, working back on campus at Regis University and I love my job as Associate Director of Service Learning. So many opportunities to learn and grow and many wonderful people to work with. In the midst of this chapter I’ve gained to son-in-loves and a grand-daughter that I absolutely adore. Never dreamed all of this would unfold in this way.
So…why does this matter? Back to the beginning of this post. To all those who have planned out your life. Good job, but remain flexible in your spirit. Life might happen differently. And differently can be amazing! To think I would have missed all this if I’d stuck to “my plan” so long ago…wow! And also, I am a firm believer that no opportunity is wasted. So even in the midst of those times when you sit back with a hearty, “Hmmmmm!???” with a furrowed brow and a questioning heart - know this, God is not surprised by any of the twists and turns your life plan takes. In fact he’s orchestrated it along the way and the lessons and skills you learn always seem to come back in to play in the next chapter. I love that! So take a deep breath, be a good steward of having a plan, but know [as my husband is fond of reminding me]…”you work the plan, but then you revise it as needed!”
What about you? Is your life turning out just like you thought? For me the journey continues and I have learned to celebrate the many twists and turns along the way as they have been the best teacher. I remain a student of what’s to come. God has known all along (far better than I ever could have dreamed) what is best for me.