by Amanda J. Garcia
“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11).
I am a planner. I like checklists, maps and itineraries. I am not good at waiting, and my greatest fear is the unknown. When I turned 25, I looked ahead and panicked at my list of things to accomplish before I turned 30 (go back to school, save for a down payment on a house, train for a marathon), when I should have looked back and remembered the unpredictable path that I had traveled and all the twists and turns that were never part of the plan.
When I was a little girl, my plan was to be a photojournalist for the National Geographic. But in high school, I not only realized how unrealistic that plan was, but that I didn’t even want it anymore. All I knew was that writing, design and learning were important to me.
In my early 20s, I thought that I should have children someday, so when my husband and I got married we put kids in our five-year plan. But as that five-year mark got closer and closer, I panicked because I wanted to focus on my work. At that point, I realized that a meaningful career was important to me.
After college I spent six years pouring my heart and soul into my first job, where I planned to work until I reached an executive position. I was promoted, given raises and responsibility, but none of that mattered when I realized how miserable I was. So get this: I stepped out in faith with no plan at all and became a freelance writer and designer. It was then that I learned that plans are only ideas that make sense when they’re made.
I wish someone had given me permission when I was 25 to stop rushing through my to-do list, to pay attention to the person I was becoming and to stop struggling to control my future. l wish someone had encouraged me to look for clues as to where I was going and reminded me that while big-picture goals and hard work are important, timelines are flexible, change doesn’t mean failure and grace is alive and well.
It has taken nearly thirty years, but for the first time in my life I’m confident that I am where I’m supposed to be. I don’t know exactly where I’m going, but I’m content in knowing I am headed in the right direction. I’m still a planner, but I do my best to remember that even my greatest ideas don’t make as much sense as the plans God has made, and that there is no greater peace than resting in the mystery of God’s grace.
1. When have you had to let go of a plan? How did you respond?
2. Imagine yourself at the beginning of your adult life. What advice would you give yourself?
3. Can you identify a clue to the direction you’re headed without specifying a particular plan?
God of mystery, thank you for your patience with our planning. Thank you for the grace you give and the peace you promise. Comfort our hearts and give rest to our worries. Remind us that your plans are far greater than any we can fathom, and help us as we wait for them to be revealed. Amen.
Amanda J. Garcia holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Worship Arts from Judson University. She is a freelance writer and designer, and an active member of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Elgin, Il. where she attends with her husband, Dan.
Thank you for this story of permission. I resonate deeply with the planning, and the rushing, and the misery that generates. I also am learning to rest in this moment and the plans God has made for me. Sometimes resting feels like the hardest work, but it is worth it.