Growing up, I was your typical American girl; maybe just a little more imaginative than most.
My bedroom window opened up to a field that felt never-ending and beckoned dreams to fill it. I dreamt of a prince. A house. A family. The white-washed picket fence. All while singing Disney songs that ignited my heart with the belief that all I had to do was believe in myself to conquer the world.
Never in my small mind did I envision an almost-30-year-old woman waking each day to report to a cubicle in order to answer questions and complaints; to come home to a house, yes, but to no one but a family of questionably-alive plants.
Needless to say, I am one of the multitudes of people whose life has turned out differently than I had hoped. One who has, for all intents and purposes, missed that illustrious American Dream. By a long shot.
Certainly I could blame one of the millions of factors we are all tempted to point to when we feel we’ve failed at life. But with the passing of each event as it transpires in my life, I’ve reached a different conclusion: God has ruined my life.
Messed it up completely.
I had a plan. It was a good plan. It would have served to sustain the status quo so beautifully. I would have lived it so well.
But, see, I made a decision around 5 years old that rerouted those plans.
Surrendered them, actually; I invited Jesus in to take control. To do what He wanted with this life of mine.
But I forgot.
I graduated from Kindergarten and moved up in Sunday School. Each week, I learned more about how the alphabet worked and who Jesus was.
But I forgot.
I packed up my things and moved off to college. A Christian college. Continually building and moving toward those life goals I set as a kid.
But I forgot.
Those dreams were so much bigger. Well-defined. Mapped out.
Just out of reach.
Each year, more of my friends lived out the blueprints they had written. I was in more weddings, attended more house-warming parties, threw more baby showers.
I felt forgotten.
Where was this God that I had invited into my life so long ago? Wasn’t He supposed to make my life better?
Sure, I went on dates. The guys were cute, kind, polite. Some even had dimples and were great with kids (swoon). But one after another, these guys all had “different views” on life—and faith, in particular. I knew myself and my God enough to know that I couldn’t “settle” for someone who didn’t share my views. Who didn’t really care about God beyond dodging the lightning bolts in response to poor choices.
These guys didn’t hold God as the God of their lives. And those dates didn’t progress very far before one of us realized the variance and knew it was pointless to go for a second round.
I walked away from these dates deflated by the realization that I had hit another dead end. So many times, I beat my head against that proverbial brick wall convincing myself that there was something wrong with me.
Yes, there was.
But it’s not a physical flaw, personality drawback, or quirky mannerism (though, Lord knows, I’ve got ‘em).
I have God. A God Who has always been counter-culture. Less than popular. Radical.
A God Who promised that my choosing Him wouldn’t win me any friends—or boyfriends, for that matter. (John 15.)
Hear me out, here, because, fellow Christ-followers, I don’t want you to forget, too.
The bottom line is this: Life is not about following your heart. Pursuing your dreams. Reaching deep down to redefine yourself.
I know we live in a world that advocates these things as the epitome of success.
And truly, it’s not that any mode of self-improvement is inherently bad.
But as Christians, we are not the ones calling those shots to direct our life to where it should be. It’s not up to us to find the answers; to draw up self-help plans and coordinate the changes.
Our purpose is to surrender them all. To increasingly learn what it means to invite God in to take over; to “ruin” our lives.
Choosing Christ means choosing a surrendered life.
Letting go of my plans.
Every last one of them.
Even that picturesque fence.
Because as long as I hold onto those plans, I’m closing myself off from receiving what God has for me. For this life that is His.
I’ll be honest with you; I don’t like not being in control.
And I can’t say I’ve appreciated all the things that God has revealed in His plan for me thus far.
In fact, I really don’t like the path He’s given me to walk right now. It’s absolutely opposite to the plan I want in so many ways. But this life is not my own.
I can’t forget.
The God I committed my life to never guaranteed any fulfillment of my dreams. What He did—and does—promise is His good. His best. (Romans 8:28)
I lived for a long time under the misconception that His good was the same as mine.
But even the best of my good plans are entirely selfish. And let’s face it; I don’t reign over the universe. I have no way of knowing if my good is good for the world. Or even myself. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
So, it’s true. God has wrecked my life. That life I drew up with crayons in my backyard.
But you know what? That little girl in pigtails had a pretty limited concept of what life meant. Of what life would bring. Or how to live it.
And standing here today, this nearly-30-year old can tell you with full confidence that I have only a slight edge on that little girl. While I have no idea how my life will continue to unfold, I’m finally living a life worth living.
Because it’s not mine at all.