“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” -C.S. Lewis
I’d be lying if I said that my first year of college was easy. It wasn’t as academically challenging as it was physically, spiritually, and emotionally challenging. I wasn’t expecting to learn as much as I did over the past year. But thanks to the brutal teacher of experience, many of my plans have changed, leading to a change of heart.
I am a statistic: I changed my major. Even though I always said I wouldn’t be that freshman who changes their major, it happened. I started off in Music Education and changed to Music and Worship. More than likely, I would have enjoyed being a music teacher. But music, in any genre, serves a distinct purpose. And after the experiences in my own life, I can’t think of a better way to use music than to express my gratitude to God and to lead others to do the same. I’m excited to see where God takes me with worship leadership.
“Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:16-17
In addition to my career plans changing, my summer plans also changed. Another source of my chronic pain is my back, which I thought needed surgery. Through miscommunication with my doctor, I came to the conclusion that this summer would be the most convenient time for surgery. So I got on the mindset of doing nothing but recovering for the whole summer. Currently, that’s what I’m doing, but only for the next month. Instead of back surgery, I’m having procedures on both feet. Since I’ll only be “incapacitated” for a month instead of the whole summer, I have the opportunity to make more sense of my calling by interning at a church. If it were up to my original plans, I would be spending my entire summer on my couch in recovery; now I get the change to learn more about my calling AND to serve a local church. I thank God that He has more planned for me than I have planned for myself.
The most frustrating change of plans I’ve experienced this year were the changes of my daily plans. I began college as a girl who likes to plan every minute of every day of every year for the rest of her life. So each night, I would plan down to the hour (not necessarily the minute) how I would spend the next day. My most difficult days this semester started off like this: I did all (or most) of the work for my classes for the next day, packed my backpack with everything I would need for the entire day, and figured out where exactly I needed to be and when, in order to save myself the most amount of walking. All of this I would do in advance, before the day would even begin. So when I would wake up the next morning unable to move from being in excruciating pain, all of my preparations were in vain. On the days I hurt so much that I couldn’t go to class, God had so much more for me to learn than I could have imagined.
On my Debilitating Days, I learned, first and foremost, to take life one day at a time. Jesus said it best: “Therefore, don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). While I still believe it is wise to plan ahead, I’ve learned not to place my hope in a to-do list. God works in ways that are too superior for me to predict. But because they are so superior, I have peace that He knows what He’s doing. Secondly, I have begun to learn how to rest. I love multi-tasking; I love being able to do many things at once. So the moments when I was unable to do anything, except lay on my bed, were the most trying moments. I’m not going to pretend like I handled those situations as best I could. (Most of the time I was just angry that my plans were thwarted.) But I know that God wanted me to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). In my time of complete inability, I should have sought humility in recognizing God’s ability. Lastly, I came to understand the meaning of eternity, which is “timelessness.” When I laid face down in the presence of God, completely stripped of my pride, I lost track of time and caught a glimpse of eternity. But not only that– I also caught a glimpse of eternity through laughter. On my Debilitating Days, I often questioned whether or not God was out to get me. However, this verse assured me that He is not:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
God wants me to enjoy life; He doesn’t want me wallowing in my own misery. So on the hard days when the pain is too much to handle, God still wants me to have an abundant life. Therefore, by laughing, by enjoying life, by finding joy on the most painful days, I can experience God’s will for me, lose sense of time, and catch a glimpse of eternity.
Through this year of unforeseen changes, I’m grateful that God did the unexpected and made plans that are better than my own.