What is your next step? Do you have a map laid out with the next 10 years planned, or are you walking only by light in front of your feet? Wherever you may be, why are you there?
In my own life, I marvel at the people who seem to have it all figured out. They know what career they aspire to have, and they know the steps to get there. For example, becoming a teacher. A four-year degree, followed by a two-year education program which then leads to good opportunities for connecting with a district. Of course with every career path there are customizable options, but overall the way is set. I’ve always desired to have a plan like that set before me.
A few years back I remember asking my mom what she imagined my career to be. She would always remind my sister that teaching was exactly the job she envisioned for her, thus I figured that she would have a vision for my life as well. I got very little confirmation from that conversation, as she simply responded with something along the lines of “Well, I’ve never really known for you, there’s no one job that I could see you doing”. This response was not bad, or hurtful in any way, but so often people are following a path that their parents have heavily influenced, so for me to hear that even my own mother didn’t have an idea of what I would do with my life, then where would I even begin.
Evidently, that simple, living room conversation had a large impact on my view of myself. In my mind, I thought that taking a gap year from school would lead to me discovering the path for my life and creating a 10-year plan to stick to. Contrary to my beliefs, I find myself 13 months out of school, 7 countries traveled and countless new experiences later, still with even less of an idea of what my future will look like. I should rephrase that. I do have ideas, and that’s the issue. I have a smorgasbord of ideas of what I would love to do. But trying to puzzle together living on a homestead, working in aviation, raising my hypothetical kids abroad, starting my own business, and primarily following the call of God on my life, has become a challenge. Reading over those ideas now, it doesn’t seem like it should be that hard to envision a life that encompasses all of them. I potentially could have 61 more years to accomplish all of it. However, I find myself desiring that plan that everyone else seems to have.
Can you identify with my position?
Over the past few months, I’ve started to be okay with where I’m at. I do still find myself day dreaming and making year long plans of where I will go. I don’t know if that is human nature, or just what society has programmed us to do. Nevertheless, it’s a daily choice that I need to make of being comfortable in the place that God is leading me to.
I know very well that the Lord has lead me to where I am today. I’ll share that story briefly.
On March 3rd, it was Lordship week for my DTS. In short, it was the week that we laid things down before the cross and put them in Jesus’ hands rather than our own. I laid down a handful of physical representations of what I was letting go of. One of which was my course planning sheets, which I had to prepare for my first year of university in the Fall. My education and career plans were one of the areas that I fought with God the most on, I figured that I knew what I liked, therefore I should be the one deciding when and where I went to school.
After laying it down, I don’t think I really let go of it. I would bring it back to God on the daily asking for His plan to be made clear for me. Less than a week later I was praying and again, asking God if I could go to school. This prayer time is when I heard God as clear as day. He said to me “Shayla, stop asking me. Right now, it is a no unless I give you a clear yes without you asking for it.” I was devastated, it felt like God was taking away one of the most important things in my life.
Over the next few weeks, I had to be okay with what God said to me, after all, I did ask Him for His opinion. I started to think of different jobs, volunteer opportunities and maybe even some more traveling that I could fill my year off with. Eventually, I found myself in a place where I was not only okay but actually looking forward to the idea of not going back to school in the fall.
And then the Lord surprised me yet again. March 31st, I was having my quiet time just like every other morning. This morning I was reading in Deuteronomy and I had just connected my phone to the Wifi to find the meaning of the words “Faithful” and “Merciful”. Before I had a chance to look them up, I got a message from my mom. In the message, there was a photo of the letter I had received from my university informing me that I had received a fairly large scholarship. Immediately I brought it to God, I was not expecting Him to actually give me a word without me asking for it. As I prayed, I heard God say “I love you Shay and I love what you want” and felt as though He was smiling down on me like a father who just gave his child a gift that they never expected. And there it was, the word that has lead me to the next seven(ish) months of my life.
I share this story more so for those of you that already have a relationship with the Lord. Are you comfortable allowing God to lead each step you take, rather than giving you a map with all the directions planned out?
This is something I’m in the process of working on in myself. As much as I desire to have that plan that I mentioned in the beginning, I also love the idea of simply following the Lamb where’ve He leads. Will I finish my university degree in the most systematic and efficient way? Probably not. But I remind myself that my life is not a race, and I’m not in competition with anyone else. In fact, I have a feeling that my life will seem like a very indirect route to an unknown finish line. But just as the Lord did for Joshua, so he will do for you and me,
“[He] will give you every place where you set your foot.” Joshua 1:3.
These are the words that I will hold fast to. I do not need a ten-year plan, I need to trust God with each step.