I went into my senior year of college with a check list of everything I was going to accomplish this year.
1. Excel in my internship and ministry jobs.
2. Lead the perfect small group and be the best leader around.
3. Apply and get accepted into seminary.
4. Excel in all my classes and get perfect attendance.
5. Manage to balance everything perfectly and have awesome friends who looked up to me.
6. Start a blog.
7. Graduate in May.
8. Get married to my boyfriend of the time the week after.
The funny thing is that I’m not a “check list” kind of girl. That’s probably why everything on my check list either hasn’t happened yet or never will. Minus number 6.
When God wrecks our plans, it can be so so painful. I don’t like it when things don’t go as planned and I’m sure you don’t either. I hope this blogpost brings you hope, peace and is a reminder that you are never alone in these types of seasons and situations.
Let’s back track a little here. I am a fifth year senior (woohoo), so that means by the time I graduate, I will have been in college for five years. My time in college has been rough. I’ve moved a lot, been through eight roommates, five apartments, seven majors, two serious boyfriends and two major heartbreaks.
It took me forever to figure out what I was going to do with my life. During my first senior year (haha), I thought I had it all figured out. I got the call to go into ministry. I had a boyfriend who I was ready to marry (if you know me, you know that never happens). I had traveled to a seminary that I really wanted to attend, found a church I loved and had a list of goals I wanted to accomplish.
I have a bad habit of skipping around and never making up my mind so I was genuinely amazed that there was something in my life I truly wanted to do.
One night, though, I had been praying about all of these things and began to feel uneasy. I blew it off because I struggle with clinical anxiety and feeling uneasy is just a part of my daily life.
I kept praying throughout the week and as I was talking with the Lord and asking Him to bless these things, He did something I never expected Him to do. As I was praying over all of these things, He stopped me in my tracks and said this: “Sarah, honey, I know you love him and you want to do all of these things. But I need you to leave him. I need you to get off of social media. I need you to rethink seminary. I need you to find a new church and get off Zoloft.”
My heart stopped and I felt like I couldn’t even breathe after that prayer. I was so angry, confused and heartbroken over this command that the Lord had given me. I begged, pleaded and gave counter offers for a month. But the Lord just said “Sarah, you heard me”.
So, I did it. I deleted social media and have been off of it for almost four months. I left the boyfriend and didn’t tell him why. I asked my doctor to take me off my medicine, prayed about my after college plans and started going to a new church.
For roughly three months, morning and night, I would continually fall to my knees with my Bible open calling out to the Lord and asking for help, guidance, hope, strength and an answer to this seemingly cruel command. For those three months, I got nothing. Just silence. God would NOT answer me and I didn’t know why.
One day, though, I was doing a devotional by Jordan Lee, the founder of SoulScripts, called College.
This devotional started out with her talking about her college days and how she and this guy were kind of dating, but hadn’t put a label on it yet. The story goes on and she is at a frat party and notices this girl dancing all over her man. She screams across the room and tells this girl to get off him (omg). Long story short, by the end of the devotional, Jordan ended up punching this girl at a frat party. How crazy is that?
Moving forward, in the end of the devotional, she had a revelation about that moment and said this: I didn’t want to share that boys heart with anyone else just in the same way God doesn’t want to share our hearts with anyone or anything else.
That line alone had me on the floor and ugly crying within seconds of reading it. It all hit me right then. God didn’t wreck plans and make me do such painful things because they were bad. He made me do those things because my plans and my checklists took His place in my heart. The Lord hadn’t had a place in my heart for so long and I didn’t even know it. I was so obsessed with the idea that I actually wanted to go through with something that I completely forgot about God. I moved Him aside and let these other things creep in and take His spot.
My entire checklist collapsed in on itself. I never got perfect attendance. I barely made it out of this semester alive. I failed as a leader at times. I never applied to the seminary I wanted to go to. I reluctantly looked at programs for after college. I’ve cried in front of more people than I’d like to admit and I’m almost positive that no one looks up to me.
Somehow though, this season of heartbreak and devastation has caused me to fall more in love with God now than I ever have before. When He wrecked my plans and made me do some of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, it caused me to lean on Him in such a way that ultimately it made me love Him more. How that worked out? I’m still working on an answer.
All I know is, that when our plans get wrecked and God just kind of comes in and pushes it all out-of-the-way, it’s not because He doesn’t like us. God is like Jordan at that party. If something has our heart and is getting in His way, He’s going to get in a fistfight with that thing or person. He’s going to beat it down and take it away from us until we understand that He is the only thing that can sustain us.
Romantic love cannot sustain us. Checklists and goals cannot sustain us. Our idols cannot sustain us. Our obsession with being perfect cannot sustain us. Humans and their approval cannot sustain us.
Only God can sustain us and until we get our relationship right with Him and claim Him as our first love, we won’t get anything else in our life right.
For anyone who actually reads this blog, just know that if you’re in a place or a season where it seems like God is wrecking your plans, you are not alone in this. Also, please just remember that the Lord is good, faithful and perfect and He has our best interest at heart. We serve a jealous God who loves us and wants to be the center of our lives, because He knows that when He is, everything we do will be so beautiful and He will be fully glorified in the end.
So if there is something in your life that is holding you back from being totally in love with God, whether it be a romantic relationship, an academic program, an obsession with approval, loneliness or anything else, just know that the Lord is with you and He knows your pain. But also remember that the more you give over to the world, the harder God is going to fight and the more painful it’s going to get.
So I just ask that anyone who reads this, would just fall on your knees tonight and ask the Lord to reveal things about you or things that are in your life that have His place in your heart? Because once you do this, you will be so set free and experience true beauty and grace.
I do know that one day I will be married. I know that I’ll go to seminary. But right now, I’m back to square one. I don’t know what I’m doing after college anymore. I don’t know who I’ll marry and I don’t know what’s going to happen. But because God made me fall so deeply in love with Him, I don’t even care anymore.
All my love,
Deuteronomy 5 & 20