I am a planner.
I always have been and always will be. I like to know where I am going and when I need to leave in order to get there on time. My personal planner is full of lists and appointments and goals, and I find great satisfaction when I can cross something off of a list or consider my goal accomplished. Maybe it was all those years in school when they required me to use a planner and drilled the beloved “organizational skills” into my brain, or maybe I am just a little particular that way. Either way, I find peace in knowing what comes next.
Two years ago, I did not know what was coming next. At 21 years old, I was a month and a half away from my college graduation. I had worked extra hard to get my bachelor’s degree in three years, and I was at the very beginning of my career as a professional dancer. In fact, I was graduating early so that I could jump right in to the professional dance world, or so I thought. I had big plans to dance in a company, have an evening and weekend job to pay the bills, and live the dream of the quintessential struggling artist. It was exhilarating to think of my future of performing, traveling, and collaborating with other artists. However cliché this dream sounds, it was a very realistic one for me. I spent countless hours practicing in the studio, I sacrificed a social life, I used and abused my body with sore muscles, somewhat restricted eating habits, and little rest- the blood, sweat, and tears were real. All this for my love of the art form, for my passion.
In an instant, everything changed. On Cinco de Mayo, while everyone else was out having fun (except for my best friend, who was there with me, thank God for her), I found out I was pregnant. I think I lived in a state of complete shock for probably three months. Sadness, anger, self-pity, shame- you name it, I felt it. I had a dream, I made a plan, and I worked SO hard so get to that point, and I watched in disbelief as it fell apart. Even after my beautiful daughter was born, I was still in shock at how my life had changed so drastically. I still did not have a clear next step, and I was feeling extremely overwhelmed at the thought of having to rebuild my life and shift my thinking about my future. With a brand new bundle of responsibility and an unknown future, I decided that if I took one day at a time and trusted that God would point me in some other direction (any direction!) I would be okay. Sometimes, there is nothing left to do but trust.
I look back on this difficult time in my life now and see how stubborn I was in thinking that fulfilling a certain dream of mine was the only way I could ever be happy. How obstinate and blind I was to think that God was wrong, and to not trust that He had an even better plan for me. God really was working in my life, even though I was feeling rather abandoned.
Human beings are funny creatures. We plan and scheme for the future, making decisions and taking calculated risks in order to reach some goal, some personal definition of what it means to succeed. We have all these plans worked out with all the little steps we need to take to get to the destination.
Then, the plan fails. We get so angry and hurt and upset because, how dare my plan not work out?! I had everything in place to get to my goal, I even had a goal worksheet with a checklist and a to-do calendar. I sacrificed time and money and energy to get to this point and the plan failed. I even wrote it into my list of New Year’s Resolutions! Then we start blaming God and think “Why couldn’t He just help me reach my goal? Why would God give me this hard thing instead of the fairy tale ending I had written for myself?”
I laugh at this a little because we all feel this way at some point in our lives, but if you think about all the possible outcomes of your life and the infinite number of paths there are for you to take at any point in time, it is truly amazing that any plan for the future works out at all. Between God’s idea for our future, the world’s imperfect circumstances, and our own faults, we must have a great amount of pride in thinking our plan will be the one to succeed. Do we really think that just because we want something to be, it will be? How is it that we come to believe that if we just work hard enough, God’s plan and the world around us will conform to our designs for the future?
Even though I can find some humor and irony in this now, it hurts to be in that place. I know that it hurts because I’ve been there. While I still do not always have a clear next step, I am seeing the beauty of the uncertainty in my life, and I am recognizing the blessings that I once saw as obstacles.
I have received such a precious gift- I have been blessed with the privilege to witness a remarkable human being grow and explore the world through the awe-struck eyes of a child. I have been given the opportunity to open my heart to love and be loved by a truly beautiful spirit. I see now that God knew what He was doing when he gave me my Coco. With a tiny infant, He changed my heart and opened me up to the world of unconditional love. No plan of mine could have turned out better than that.
If I could go back to that time and give myself some advice, I would say:
Trust that it will turn out okay.
You can’t see it yet, but wonderful things are coming.
Be patient. Soon you will look back and see this time in your life with more clarity.
I would offer these same words to anyone who might be experiencing a similar kind of disorientation in life. Learn to let go of what you thought you wanted, and learn to get on board with the greater designs that God has for your life.
Until next time,