Have you ever had this idea of how your life will be and worked so hard to get to a certain point in your life and had it all fall apart right before your eyes? And you’re left feeling lost and fearful of the uncertain things that lay before you. It seems we all must endure those times at some point in our journey. I know I have. In past posts I have given you a look into my journey up until this point. I told you How I Prayed For My Love Story. I even walked you through my first post-grad job experience and how I coped when my dream job turned out to be a nightmare and I had no clue where my life was going. Now I want to talk to you about the very first major obstacle that my marriage had to overcome, not even a month after our wedding. My plans for our life together all came crashing down in a matter of minutes and, as you might have guessed, my faith was tested yet again.
My plan was shattered about 3 weeks after David and I got married. Everything had gone according to plan. Perfect wedding and an even more perfect honeymoon. During those “honeymoon high” days I never expected what lay ahead of us.
I’ll never forget the day we returned from the honeymoon. David was already living in this lovely little home and compared to my own apartment it seemed like a castle. The day we got home from the honeymoon I started settling in. Unpacking, rearranging, painting, and decorating. Almost three weeks to the day, we had my parents over for dinner. I was so excited to show them our little home and describe all my interior design plans for it. I had been planning this for a year (even before we were engaged). I planned this elaborate dinner for the evening, got up super early to make sure everything was perfect for when they arrived, and cooked the first big meal in my new kitchen. Little did I know that same evening we would start packing up our belongings and by the next day would be living in a cramped little room on the second floor of my mother and father in-law’s house. My plan? Completely shattered.
A month before Christmas, barely settled in from our honeymoon, and there we sat in a lime green room, sharing the space with my mother-in-law’s sewing equipment. David’s parents were in the neighboring bedroom, his brother across the hall, and his youngest sister one floor below us. Not ideal for newlyweds and not ideal for two people who were used to living on their own. We were hardly adjusted to living with each other and now we had to live here while all of our belongings and all of our sparkly new wedding gifts sat in a storage space across town.
If there was one thing I was looking forward to after the wedding it was settling into our home, creating the vision in my mind of the layout and decor, and getting the house ready for our first married Christmas. I certainly did not expect to be searching the housing market and living with my in-laws. My plans were not only shattered. They were ripped out of my hands, torn into a million pieces, set on fire, and thrown back in my face. This was not how things were meant to be!
So how did I survive? How did I endure 2 months crammed into a tiny room, living with a family I had only just become a part of? And how on earth did we manage to focus on buying our first home? Well, I will spare you the very long story of how we ended up losing our little rental home that night. All I will say is that our situation was 100% a part of God’s plan, even though it was 110% NOT a part of my plan. I was supposed to be filling our home with Christmas décor and breaking in my new cookie sheets, not trying to navigate around our small room without knocking over our tiny little excuse for a Christmas tree. But God used that season to grow David and I closer and to point us to the place He wanted us to be.
Have you had your own plans shattered? Maybe you feel like I did that night I began to pack our new life together in boxes and press the pause button on all my expectations. Maybe you feel let down? Unsure? Helpless? Angry? While it is completely okay to feel those things (I sure did!), I would like to encourage you to look at the pieces of your shattered plan in a new way. I want to talk to you about 5 ways you can approach your shattered plan and learn from your situation.
- Learn to Let Go of Pride & Embrace Honesty
I think we all struggle with pride on some level. During that time I was riding the wedding high and then everything came crashing down. So my pride took a major beating that night as we took down our Christmas tree and packed up our unopened wedding gifts. Telling people I was living with my husband’s parents? Major reality check for my pride! But I learned something really important through that – pride can sometimes hinder us from being honest and honesty is the best way to connect with people. When I told coworkers, friends, even people at our church I was so embarrassed at first. But by being honest with them I was able to open the door for their advice. I learned some of the early struggles some of them had faced early in their marriage and it encouraged me. I found that vulnerability was far more beneficial than pride and it opened up the door for so many uplifting conversations and I KNOW that the more people that were aware of our situation meant that there were more people praying for our situation. So, even though your situation may seem embarrassing and shameful, don’t be too prideful to ask for advice or prayer. By being honest about what is going on in your life you may find that you have a supportive team surrounding you to get you through this season.
- Search for the Blessing in the Situation
This may seem near impossible in some of life’s circumstances, but I encourage you to find SOMETHING to take away from the situation you are currently facing. My major positive focus of those 2 months pretty much homeless was that I got to know my mother-in-law and sister-in-law incredibly well. I was able to have a house full of family during our first Christmas and that was such a huge blessing! I was able to really fall in love with my husband’s family and know many of them on a deeper level. Even though my own mom was over an hour away, I felt like I had a mom right there with me every single day. I was able to spend quality time with my nieces and nephews when they visited during the day and those are memories I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. So I encourage you to seek the blessings in the situation, because you should enjoy those moments as they are actually happening, not just as memories. Don’t let disappointment and impatience keep you from the blessings that God has for you today, even if your situation is less than ideal. Much like I did, you might find that some of life’s most pivotal moments happen in our most trying times.
- Trust in God’s Plan & Timing
If anything will teach you how to trust God’s will and His timing it is completely losing your own plan for life. The night we moved out I had one thought running through my mind. I think I had to keep saying it to myself so I didn’t break down in front of everyone as they helped us load everything into all of their vehicles. David and I had sat down when we realized we would have to move out the next day and determined that If God took away the home we had then that must mean that he already has another home for us somewhere else. That thought was the only thing that kept me going as we put everything we had in black trash bags and stacked them in a storage unit. I kept reminding myself that His way was far better than ours and that He would provide the exact home He wanted for us. I had to trust that He was taking us away from that home for a reason, even if I couldn’t see or understand what the reason was. So, if your own plan has been ripped away from you…learn to let it go. Learn to step away. And learn to trust that the One who is writing your story knows what He is doing and He knows what is best.
- Expect Good Things from the Lord
It would have been so easy for me to break down that night and assume that God must have been angry at us or punishing us for something or maybe even just making everything balanced since everything at the wedding seemed to go so smoothly. It would have been very easy for me to sulk, to convince myself that God didn’t care if we were newlyweds with no home. But instead I learned to not just pray for good things from the Lord but to EXPECT them. He had provided me with so much up until that point…why would I start to doubt him just because things weren’t going my way? Oh, I wanted to. There were days when I could have easily believed that we would be there in that lime green room forever. But during those days, when those thoughts would creep into my mind, I would remind myself that the things that God had for me were nothing but good because HE is good and all of His plans for my life aren’t just for my own happiness but rather for His glory.
- Know that God Sometimes Rewrites our Plan to Protect us
Looking back on our old situation and the many different ways it could have gone, I see how God was protecting us from our own potential to make the wrong choice. Even in the heartbreaking moments of hearing David say “we have to move,” God was sheltering us and placing us on the right path. He redirected our steps because we were blindly walking the wrong way in terms of where we should live. He knew the financial strain that home would have on us eventually. He knew that the relationship that we thought was solid with our land lord’s was one of falsehood and trickery. So instead of letting us walk into a trap, because to us it looked so appealing, He intervened and stopped us from making one of the worst decisions of our life together. God doesn’t just recreate our plan because He wants us to be something or do something in particular; he also interrupts our plan to keep us from harm and struggle. Did you somehow get redirected from the path you were walking? Maybe that is God’s protection. He knows what lies ahead. He knows the monsters that disguise themselves as princes. He knows when the house made of candy and treats is really a death trap. Think about your situation before the plan was shattered…was there anything there that could have turned into something negative in your life? Was God simply protecting you by allowing it to slip from your hands? That is what He did for me on that sad day. He allowed my heart to break just a little in order to protect me from a heartbreaking future.
So if you have recently had your own plans ripped away from you and you’ve had to pick up the pieces and the ashes and attempt to start again, may I just encourage you to embrace that brokenness! Because the things that God has for you…the plan that HE has made to REPLACE yours is so much better than anything you could have dreamed for yourself.
David and I are now living in the sweetest, most charming little home I ever could have imagined, and looking back I would never have chosen that place over this one. We both knew that this would be our home the moment we walked in. And guess what? The entire purchasing process and searching process was smooth. This was the first home we looked at with our agent and there wasn’t a single bump in the road along the way. Is that always going to be the case? No, not at all! But for us it was reassurance that God had brought us out of that season of uncertainty and obstacles and He was bringing us into the place we would finally call HOME.
Dear friend, plans will always change. This life is never going to be what we expect. But it can be what we make it. It can be grace-filled, honest, and a spectacular experience if we are open to God’s plan and patient for His timing. When plans don’t go the way you hoped remember that you have freedom in the author of life and the creator of the universe and He has your story completely in His control. He wants to write you a happy ending, but with every good story there must be struggle along the way. He’s such an amazing story teller, so why doubt Him? Embrace the shattered plans. Be vulnerable. Seek blessings in every situation. Trust in HIS plan. Expect GOODNESS from Him. And know that He does everything for YOUR GOOD.
Keep pushing forward, friend. The next chapter is not far away.