I asked a student today what she wants to do with her life after high school. Then I started thinking it is kindof funny how young people get asked that question so much - and really have so little idea of what the possibilities could be. Usually they foresee some kind of college in their future. And they typically mention a job. The former, because it is generally expected of them and the latter because they want money. When I graduated from high school I had some vague notion I was supposed to become a doctor and I enrolled in college without any real plan, just expecting it to eventually happen.
After I took a Life Science class I started feeling like I didn’t really want to put so much time into college and I tried out Oceanography. I found that class AND the Marine Biology classes I took afterwards to be fascinating. But then I started to realize the limitations of such a narrow field of employment. I would have to live near a body of water in order to find work. I guess I didn’t love it as much as I thought I did because I changed my mind again and decided I was going to become a Kindergarten teacher. I thought that would be a good choice mostly because I didn’t think it could be very hard to teach Kindergarten and I would have my summers off.
In the midst of educational mind-changing my children were born, which slowed the academic process down considerably. Having small children made me realize I didn’t particularly want to teach Kindergarten and spend my entire day with little ones, so once again I changed my mind. With the help of my academic advisor, I listed my new major for my Associate’s degree as “Liberal Studies”. I laugh now, because basically that is what they name a degree which is earned with sixty or so unrelated credits.
The good thing about that particular degree was it was so vague as to specialty I could enter pretty much any Bachelor’s program I desired. When I finished the Associate degree and found myself ready to enroll in a four-year university, it was finally time to put my money where my mouth was and make a decision about what I was going to do with myself. That was twenty-two years after I left high school thinking I was going to become a doctor.
I look back on that time and realize we really don’t know what is next. We have no guarantees even the best-laid plans we make will work out as intended. I learned through the years to formulate decisions by praying intensively and then moving in whatever direction I truly believed God was leading. I have also learned God uses many different paths to get us to the place He desires. When I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Family Life Education I was certain my future lay in serving God as a Children’s Ministries’ Director for a church. I was actually on the right path, but I had made it too narrow. God’s plan was so much bigger than I envisioned or dreamed.
I like to tell students to keep their options open because we never really know what is around the corner. Planning is good and important for organization and sometimes a new plan just what we need to get moving when we are in a rut. But we cannot possibly foresee the events of our lives or know about opportunities or circumstances which might come along and deflect us from our path. Sometimes things happen that are scary and uncertain and seem like the worst possible outcomes, yet they often turn into unannounced opportunities. I have learned that is where faith comes in.
There are many things I cannot control as I try to accomplish the goals I set for myself. But that doesn’t stop me from setting them. And it doesn’t stop me from trying. Right now I have goals and dreams which are so big I barely dared dream them not too long ago. But I’m glad I did. I’m so very glad. And I hope you are dreaming dreams and setting goals and participating in your life as it unfolds. Don't give up when things don't go exactly the way you planned. Look for the opportunities and make something of them. Ask God to show you how. He's there and He has the perfect plan for your life.
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