My summer was going to be perfect. I landed an amazing summer job involving the great outdoors and working with kids—two of my favorite things. I was going to be working with some of my best friends within easy visiting distance of my boyfriend. Every day would be spent proclaiming the Gospel and I’d be getting paid for it. It was the perfect plan, and I couldn’t have been more excited.
And then God’s plan came into action.
A few weeks before departure for my job, I was playing in a soccer tournament for my college. I would never have suspected that one ugly play would completely ruin my well-laid plans for the next three months of my life. I remember the excruciating pain that flamed up in my ankle and the audible “pop” that everyone around me heard. Before I knew it, I was being carried off the field and rushed to the hospital.
Diagnosis: multiple severed ligaments in my ankle. Recovery time: 8-12 weeks, if everything went perfectly.
My eyes filled with tears as the doctor explained all the necessary rehab and physical therapy I would have to go through if I hoped to play soccer again.
To say I was angry is an understatement. I had to turn down an amazing summer job opportunity. Suddenly I was faced with the reality of being home all summer. I had no job lined up. And how could I work on crutches? I was suddenly miles from most of my closest friends. My relationship quickly turned into a long-distance relationship. On top of that, I was forced to remain sedentary and still, unable to walk, drive, or go on long runs or exercise.
4 Truths to Remember When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned
My well-laid plans failed me. But that doesn’t mean my summer is a failure. After much thought, prayer, and counsel from Godly friends, I have been able to change my attitude and outlook.
Here are some truths to pray on when it comes to life not going as you planned.
1. God has a plan, and that plan may not be the same as ours.
As Christians, we are frequently reminded that God has a plan and a purpose for our lives. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, “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.”
This verse has brought me much comfort in times of uncertainty about the future. But after my injury, I was very disturbed as to how my plans were not what He wanted for me. After all, wasn’t I going to bring Him glory through my plans? Yes, but I quickly learned that I had put my summer plans completely into my own hands, without asking the Lord if it was truly His will.
Proverbs 16:9 reminded me that, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
I planned my course, but the Lord established my steps. No matter how well we plan, we will always end up where the Lord wants us, even if it seems unfair or wrong at first.
2. Don’t try to fix things, just surrender and trust.
When life seems to go not as planned, it can be tempting for us to try to take matters into our own hands and fix things. Upon arrival home for the summer, I started applying to every job under the sun. I was always met by denial due to the fact that, at that point, I still couldn’t walk on my ankle unaided.
However, the Lord had a different plan for my summer. He didn’t want me continually forcing my way into the driving seat. Proverbs 3:5-6 says we must “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
I didn’t need to fix my summer, all I needed was to trust that He could fix it for me. I needed to surrender, something which is particularly hard for my control-freak nature. But it is only when we surrender our lives completely that He can start to work out His will in our lives. Let go and trust Him.
3. God will bring good out of what looks like a hopeless situation.
In my eyes, there was a lie, and that was the lie that nothing good would happen in my summer due to my injury.
It seemed like an eternity before God did bring good out of my injury, but truly, it was only a matter of a few weeks. God has opened-up opportunities for my summer that are greater than I could’ve planned for!
Romans 8:28 says: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” No, my summer wasn’t the picture-perfect summer I had envisioned. But it went in an extremely radical direction that could only have been uniquely designed by Him and for me!
Whether it’s a horrifically sprained ankle or anything else, God can and will bring good out of a situation.
4. Don’t be afraid to go into the unplanned.
I hate being out of control.
The first day I got back home, with a swollen ankle and no idea of what the next three months would bring, I spent much of my day curled up in my bed. I felt alone and purposeless. I didn’t know what tomorrow would bring, and that scared me. But the truth is, no matter what tomorrow brings, we do not need to be afraid.
We read in Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
No matter what the Lord has planned for you, and whether or not He has revealed His plan to you yet, you are not alone in the journey. We have no reason to fear. Rather, we should embrace the uncertainty, rejoicing in the truth that no matter what happens, the Lord is with us.
His Ways are Higher
These are the truths I reminded myself of daily throughout this summer. No, it wasn’t easy. When your heart becomes troubled, I encourage you to return to these truths.
Life doesn’t always go as we plan. This becomes an opportunity to trust in the Lord and His roadmap for our lives. I pray that you embrace the unplanned!
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Mary Grace Tillman, or Gracie, is a student, daughter, sister, friend, and full-time extrovert. If you don’t find her on the nearest soccer field, she is probably lost down some country road with the windows down and tunes blaring. She loves to praise God through music and sports and she strives to live life to the fullest.