I often think of life as a rollercoaster ride. No matter what we do, life is bound to throw a curve our way, or even surprise us with a huge dropoff as soon as we make it to the top of a hill that took us forever to climb.
This past year has felt like a constant rollercoaster. There were a few hills and even a turn upsidedown that threw everything backward. (Our pastor died unexpectedly.) But through all of this, I have grown a lot and learned a good bit about God’s plan for my life.
Notice I said “God’s plan.” Not anyone else’s plan for my life – including mine.
1- God’s Plan is Always Perfect.
I often think more people would submit to God’s Will if it aligned with their desires. For a long time, I was afraid God might ask me to do something I hated. But the more time I spent reading His Word, the more I discovered that:
- The closer we get to God, the more our desires become His desires for us.
- He has already given us the unique gifting and ability for our specific callings.
- Something might look too hard or impossible to accomplish, but that’s actually a good thing. It means we have to trust in Him.
2- God’s Timing is Always Perfect.
This is something I struggle with even now in my career. I know God has called me to write books, and I am doing so. However, I don’t know how, when or where I will see my books in publication. But He does. It’s been tempting to “jump the gun” as my mom would say and self-publish. Yet, I hear Him say “Wait, I have something better for you.” So, despite all fleshly impatience, I grit my teeth and query on.
3- God Didn’t Call Me to Everything.
This remains the biggest struggle in my life, and the one I will address the most. Partly because I have grown a lot in this area but need to grow more, and partly because I think many Christians share in my struggle.
I am a natural-born people pleaser. Also, I am OCD – like diagnosed with it, Monica Geller-level organized and anal, OCD. That’s great for cleaning the house and staying in shape and meeting work deadlines. Not so great for being a balanced human being.
Some events over the past year have caused me to question the way I spend my time in light of what God wants me to do and what is best for my family. Time, in my opinion, is one of the places the devil sneaks in when we least expect it. If Satan can’t tempt us to sin in the usual carnal ways of the world, he will fill our to-do lists with “good deeds” to the point that we neglect our true callings.
I had such a hard time saying “no” to people that I had become like Jim Carrey in Yes Man. If a church/ministry/family member/friend/nonprofit/work client/sappy-looking animal on a TV infomercial asked me to do it, how could I say “no”? I would agree to do so many things that my monthly calendar looked like my three year old’s artwork.
Then, the inevitable happened. I realized I couldn’t be all things to all people and continue to function. One night I caught myself downing a Melatonin pill with an energy drink and wondered what I was doing. Not just at that moment but with my life. I prayed that God would help me find a way to still “do good” without doing too much. And here’s what I’ve learned:
Shades of Grey is a major issue for Christians. By “grey” here I’m not referring to that scandalous little novel but rather the gray areas of life (or grey as those across the pond prefer to spell it). These are all the things in life that don’t go against Christian ethics but might go against God’s will for you in that time in your life.
For example, are you giving to a certain mission simply because some of your friends are or because God tugged on your heart to do so?
There was a time when I couldn’t even open the letters from our Compassion child until my husband had gone through the envelope and thrown away all the extra photos asking us to sponsor more kids. By sponsoring and writing to one child, I was making a difference. But the devil tried to make me feel guilty that I wasn’t doing more.
This same pattern carried over in much of my life. Anything related to church or a ministry had me saying “yes.” And that’s not good for many reasons:
- By saying “yes” to everything I was asked, I couldn’t do what I was called to do well. Volunteering for everything kept me from fulfilling what I was called to do and using my God-given talents. Also, saying “no” might mean someone else who needed to get involved more in that particular area would step up and take on the role.
- I spent so much time doing for others that I often neglected my own family. Sad to admit, but busyness had become my business. Any time I wasn’t doing a favor or filling in somewhere, I was catching up on work, which meant no time for my kids.
- People began to take advantage of me. Intentional or not, some people love a “Yes Man.” So much so that they will ask anything and everything of you because they know you will agree to it. I’ve heard horror stories of people who have become enablers to family members, all in the name of trying to help them. This isn’t healthy for either party.
God’s opinion is the only one that matters. When you learn to say the dreaded “no,” it
may will rub some people the wrong way. But those who understand adult life will respect you for being upfront. I’ve learned the hard way that it’s sometimes better to let people get mad or disappointed than to agree to things I don’t have time to do simply because I feel bad if I decline.
What helps me be “okay” with occasionally disappointing others is keeping my mind set on eternity. If I could go back in time, I would have come to this realization sooner rather than wait until I lost part of my sanity to lack of sleep and stomach ulcers.
I am now a recovering “Yes Man,” and each day I try harder to do what falls within God’s plan for my life. Instead of checking my calendar to see if I can do something, I check with God to see if I should do something. And it’s refreshing to know that the only one I have to please is Him.