Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
The week I had to leave the love of my life, I wrote this bible verse down on a scrap of paper and kept it on my person twenty-four/seven.
It was hard to feel close to God that week. I think it always seems like He is far away when we’re experiencing sadness or suffering. Intellectually we know that whatever we are going through is part of a bigger plan. But part of us – that tiny, deviant voice in the back of our minds – always pipes up and demands to know why can’t this plan just be easier?
Why do we have to suffer? Why do we have to lose people we love? Why can’t we learn all the lessons we need to learn and be guided towards the life that we’re meant to be living without all of this pain getting in the way?
It’s hard to look at any loss or letdown as a gift. But that’s exactly what we must learn to do if we want to accept the bigger plans God has for us.
I am one stubborn woman, don’t get me wrong. I make long-term plans like it’s my day job and I follow through like nobody’s business. I am cautious and deliberate when it comes to the people I let into my life because when I go all in, I’m in for the long haul.
But sometimes I forget that I’m not the only one with a plan for my future. God has one too. And it’s not always compatible with mine.
Sometimes we think a person is right for us but God has someone else He’d like us to meet. Sometimes we find ourselves gunning for our dream jobs only to realize that our talents are meant to be put to use elsewhere. Sometimes we find ourselves in the middle of pain or suffering, wondering how we’ll ever find our way out, only to realize that we’re going through it all because God wants us to be able to help others who are suffering later on. Because he’s strengthening us for what He has in store for us next.
We forget, too easily, that we are not privy to God’s plans.
We can’t always see how the pain we’re going through is going to matter later on. We just have to trust that it will. That God’s will isn’t random or malicious. It’s intentional. It’s consistent. And it’s designed to grow us into the people He wants us to become.
The week after I lost the man I wanted to marry (because we could see no feasible end to the long-distance aspect of our relationship), I couldn’t make sense of why we had to part. We loved each other deeply. We’d put years of hard work into our relationship. We did everything right. So why didn’t we get a forever?
It took me months of reflection to finally realize that from where I was standing, I just couldn’t see the bigger plan. I’d wanted my plan. My vision. My path. And I’d forgotten to respect the fact that God might have something bigger in store for both of us.
Maybe the love of my life had to move overseas because there was a group of people over there whom he alone could inspire. Maybe I was meant to stay here because my education will end up being the thing that allows me to connect with millions of people in a meaningful way.
Maybe him and I were meant to meet, to learn from each other, to grow together and then to let each other go – trusting that God had bigger plans brewing for both of us.
The truth is, when we open our hearts back up to God and choose to trust in His plan, it makes every loss a little bit easier.
Because we’re reminded that every painful loss leads us one step closer to the life we are meant to be living. And that life will be bigger, better and more meaningful than we could have ever dreamed up on our own.