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Tuesday Truths: Plans Versus Purpose

September 11, 2012

Tuesday Truths is Alicia’s weekly series on faith.  Here, Alicia will discuss the ways in which her Christian faith has shaped her life and led her onto the path she is currently traveling.  The goal is to foster an open discussion where viewpoints are considered and accepted.

One of my biggest personal downfalls is that I am a relatively impatient person.

I believe that a big reason that I am an impatient person, is that I am a planner.  I do not like being unprepared and I typically work to avoid surprises in my daily life.  As such, at a young age, I mapped out my life.

I knew that I would attend college from the time that I walked into my Kindergarten classroom.  As such, I worked hard throughout grade school to earn nearly perfect grades (those B’s in Honors Physics and Algebra II got in the way).  Working hard and earning near-perfect grades were part of my plan to secure admission to an impressive college.

Given my grades throughout my grade school years and my community involvement, when college application time came, my parents’ mailbox was inundated with shiny brochures from impressive schools.  Northwestern.  Chicago.  Boston College.  So on and so forth.

I had my heart set on going back east and attending one of these great institutions.

But God’s purpose for me was different.

From the time I was born until the day I left for college, I lived next-door to my grandparents.  They served as surrogate parents to me and I spent nearly every day with them.  When I was 14 and a freshman in high school, my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  Her condition greatly deteriorated throughout my high school years.  When the time came to submit my college applications, the thought of leaving Colorado was no longer an option for me.  Being 1,000 miles away from a woman who devoted her life to my mother and then me while she was facing her last days of her life was unthinkable to me.  For 18 years, I executed a plan that was built in my mind.  However, God had other purposes for me.  And when I was 18, that purpose was to stay close to home and support my family in a way an 18-year-old could.

One of my favorite Bible verses is Proverbs 19:21.  It says,

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

When I was 18, I didn’t think of the college situation I faced by reflecting upon this verse.  These days, though, I can apply the verse to a handful of plans that were once held in my heart which were later shattered.  The neat thing, though, about each of those plans that was shattered, is that they were replaced with a better, more fulfilling purpose.

Last week I hit a point of frustration.  The short of it, is that I believed I lost out on a sports media opportunity I had my heart set on.  It was disappointing.  It was disappointing, because I had made plans for what I would do if I received the opportunity.  It was also disappointing, because at the time, it was the only plan I made for myself.

However my disappointment subsided later in the week when I revisited Proverbs 19:21.  In doing so, I realized something:  that opportunity, although I had planned for it to be mine in my heart, wasn’t meant to be mine.  It wasn’t meant to be mine, because the purpose God has put me on this earth to serve would not be fulfilled by giving me that opportunity.  The funny thing about this experience, is that tomorrow, my agent and I are talking about a new opportunity that in my opinion, is more perfect for me than the first opportunity.  There is no guarantee that I will get it, or even be considered for it.  However, had I received the first opportunity, the possibility of the second opportunity–more suited for me–would have never been discussed.  In my eyes, it is no coincidence that things worked out this way.  It was God’s plan.

Proverbs 19:21 has allowed me to look at specific instances in my life where I was let down by my plans not coming to fruition and recognize how a bigger purpose was served.  This type of perspective is necessary to maintain perspective when setbacks of personal goals are endured.  When your plans hit a roadblock, rather than becoming devastated, it is better to reassess the situation and determine why God put up that roadblock.  There is only one reason:  God wanted to redirect you onto the road of His purpose.

Given that I am a planner, I know that I will have many more plans fall apart throughout my life.  However, given my faith in God and the control He holds on my life, I know that plans fall apart for a reason.  And that reason is something bigger than myself; it is for my creator’s purpose.

How have you dealt with setbacks in your life?  What plans in your life have fallen apart to be put together for a bigger purpose?

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