If you would have asked me 7 years ago what my life would look like at 25, the picture I would have painted wouldn’t look much like the one I’m living now. I would have said married, living in a city like DC or New York, working on anti-trafficking policies and research, traveling to various countries–you get the point. These are the dreams I held onto for years; and these are the dreams that have left broken remnants hanging over my head, wiggling their way into my thoughts, telling me that the life I’m living now is not the life I wanted at all, that this is just a season to get through, that I’m still waiting for those dreams to come true.
The life I have now isn’t bad; in fact, it’s good. I’m working with a great organization that helps refugees in Pittsburgh; I’m doing work that I’m passionate about. I live with my sister, have made many friends through the years, and am involved in my community. I’m making the most of the time I have now to just work on myself and figure out my priorities. Pittsburgh is a great city to live in, and I’ve even started to grow roots here; I’ve got a great church, and I’m learning more and more about how to get involved with the place I now call home.
Even so, the lingering pieces of unfulfilled dreams and unmet expectations crowd out the joy that I should be feeling with the life I’m living. It feels like I’ve settled for second best or gone with “Plan B” since the first plan didn’t come through. The dreams I’m still holding onto make my life seem less than. That emptiness I feel in the quiet of night, just before I go to bed, is the space where these dreams that should have been, are not. More than the weight of those broken dreams is this feeling that God didn’t come through. Or that He’s holding out. And instead of living and embracing this season of my life, I’m left waiting.
Maybe this is you. Maybe your plans for marriage didn’t work out the way you thought, or your plans for children. Maybe you moved to a place you never wanted to be. Maybe you lost your job or just couldn’t break into your field. It’s easy to believe that your life hasn’t lived up to all it should have been. We wait and wait and pray and hope for God to come through with the dreams we have. Sometimes our dreams don’t come through because of our choices, but often, even when we’re following God faithfully, we still don’t see our expectations being met. But maybe that’s because God’s expectations are far above ours; maybe our “Plan B” was His “Plan A” all along.
My first reaction when I’m in a season of life like this is to plan my way through it. Just get to the next step; just focus on the future. My other reaction is just breeze through it, numb to the world around me. In both cases, I’ve missed countless opportunities to experience God’s goodness and grace in my life. What I counted as a temporary season, an obstacle to overcome, or just a hard spot in life, God planned to be an amazing chance to know Him more and to connect with Him. Then, when that “time” was over, I was still left unsatisfied, wanting more, waiting for the next thing.
When we embrace the season that we’re in, we leave opportunities for God’s grace and goodness to come into our lives. We can focus on what is happening in the present, rather than skipping past to the future or dwelling on the past. Matthew 6 tells us “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.” Jesus tells us not to worry about food, clothing, or any earthly things, reminding us that God is good and He takes care of His creation. He reminds us to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” While every season may not be exactly what we’d like, God uses those times to shape us into who He is calling us to be. By choosing to embrace those times, we choose Christ and His kingdom.