From a young age I imagined what my future would hold. I decided that God needed my help in figuring out the details, and I quickly claimed my life as mine, not His. Since it was now my plan, any change or problem left me feeling anxious, nervous, and frustrated.
Then guess who I blamed for my frustration? “God, why are You allowing this to happen? What have I done that You’re not letting things work out for me? Why? Why? Why?”
God has been teaching me the painful lesson of learning how to let go of what is “mine” and accepting what He offers in its place.
My husband and I moved from Hawaii to the mainland after I gave my 90-day notice to my employer. I was informed that they couldn’t afford to keep me for three more months, and I had 30 days instead. This meant that instead of having three months to plan a move across the ocean, we had 30 days.
Our car had to be shipped back to the mainland, and it was scheduled to arrive in California on a Monday. We bought plane tickets and got on the flight; it was only at our layover in Texas that we learned our car would not be available for another day or so. We had no sleeping arrangements ready, and our very tight budget did not allow for extra nights in a hotel.
Before we left Hawaii, I had been offered, and accepted a position in Kentucky. It was mine! I had already toured the facility, seen my office, met most of my coworkers, completed all the new hire paperwork; we’d even met the pastor’s wife of the local Adventist church. We had begun house hunting.
Suddenly a snag transferring my license to Kentucky made me ineligible to work in that state. After six weeks on the mainland waiting to get licensed so I could start my job, I no longer had a job to start.
So now we sat at my in-law’s house with no job prospects, no housing options (other than their spare bedroom), and quickly running out of money to cover the school loans and car payments that didn’t stop coming just because we didn’t have an income.
I’d been so busy trying to protect what I thought was mine that I was losing out on that which was so much better.
I felt confused, frustrated, and angry with God. I had numerous conversations with Him about these feelings, and these are the verses that repeatedly ran through my mind:
“‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isa. 55:8, 9).
“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn. . . . Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him. . . . Do not fret—it leads only to evil” (Ps. 37:5-8).
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Ps. 27:14).
But I quickly realized that I didn’t want to wait! I wanted it right now; and I wanted it my way; according to my timing, and my plan. God seemed to be gently leading me to the mirror and opening my eyes to realize that I needed a serious attitude adjustment.
God also convicted me that I had to let it all go. I had been clinging so tightly to what I thought was mine, and He kept gently telling me, “Just let go of it and trust that I have something better for you. Just let it go. Not just the job thing or the house thing, all of it.”
But all those plans I’d held tightly all my life, thinking that if I could just make them happen my life would somehow be better.
As I prayed and thought some more, this image came to mind: me holding as tightly as I could to my dreams, a heavy, dirty bundle that was making me dirty from holding onto it. It weighed me down with stress, anxiety, and discouragement. All the while my heavenly Father was standing nearby, reaching out with both hands, constantly offering—begging—to carry it for me.
God’s desire was to replace that filthy bundle with a bright, beautiful dream that was so light I couldn’t even call it a burden, only a delight. I’d been so busy trying to protect what I thought was mine that I was losing out on what was so much better.
What a novel idea! The One who designed me would know better than I do. I realized it’s a matter of trust: did I trust Him enough to allow Him to do something that I couldn’t yet feel? Is He trustworthy enough to guide my feet down paths that I couldn’t yet see?
He has proven again and again that the answer to those questions is “yes.”
Two weeks after we arrived on the mainland, I heard that eight of my coworkers at my former job had been laid off and my boss had been demoted. If the company had not refused to honor my 90-day notice, I would have been let go with no warning. As it was, God allowed us to have 30 days.
We had planned a specific route driving back from California. If the car had arrived when it was supposed to, the route we would have taken would have put us in the middle of almost blizzard-like conditions. Because it was delayed, we had time to realize the weather was going to be bad and took a safer route. Two days after the job in Kentucky fell through, my husband was handed a well-paying position with an Adventist company.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jer. 29:11).
Yes, He is trustworthy and faithful.
Erin White lives in Tennessee and is a licensed clinical social worker.