When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned

There is something amazingly beautiful — and real — about when life doesn’t go our way.

I was sitting my the end of my PSDM (Problem Solving and Decision Making) class this afternoon as my professor wrapped up the course by telling us his own life story. The theme was clear: his life had not gone as planned. He had signed up as a paratrooper in the military, pursuing the same route as his WWII vet father, his Royal Navy grandfather, and so on for 600 years all the way back to William Wallace. When he had a son, he eagerly anticipated sending him off for the same distinguished military service.

Then, at three and a half years, everything went wrong.

His son started having seizures and was on his deathbed numerous times. Finally, my professor made the harrowing decision to have him undergo a neurosurgery that would separate the two lobes of his brain. It was save his life, but if would leave him forever at the mental capacity of a three-year-old. Thirty years later, my professor could look back with tears in his eyes and honestly tell us that seeing God’s redemption throughout was the best thing that could have ever happened to him.

It saved his marriage.

It brought that very son to Christ.

And it has impacted the lives of countless people — all through one entirely dependent, special needs boy.

The story wrecked me because even now, my life has not gone as planned. I was supposed to be the perfect, stay-at-home homeschool daughter who got married at eighteen and had nine children (all matching in a 15-passenger van). Instead, at least for this season, God has taken me on a different journey, that of change, hard decisions, and countless opportunities for ministry and growth that I never would have had if God had simply signed off on my 16-year-old plans. And though I would still love to raise a family someday, I’m coming to recognize this season, right now, of crazy college schedules, the opportunity to work with a missions agency, and daily openings to pour into the lives of students, is beautiful in its own way.

Nor can I expect the future to go as planned. More and more, I’ve been leaning forward as the older brothers and sisters in my life who have been walking with the Lord for fifty or sixty years tell their stories. Every time, the story is the same. “The Lord called me to Himself. Life was hard — and far different than I could have imagined. But God has been so good, and I never would have traded it for anything.”

No, I don’t know what unexpected plans the future might hold. A special needs child? The death of a spouse? Chronic illness? Financial struggles? Lifelong singleness? Only the Lord knows.

But whatever it is, God is good. And His redemption is SO worth it!

Your sister,

-Julianna

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