Growing up I was always the kid working towards something—I had goals upon goals upon goals. You could say I was driven.
It didn’t matter what the topic, I had a goal. Sports, academics, life, whatever. My goals gave me purpose and no matter what setbacks I experienced, I could hold on to my goals to keep moving forward.
This served me well and for the most part I found a lot of satisfaction from reaching goals and milestones.
But then something strange happened: I checked off the final goal on my list.
Wow. Now what?
After years of working towards big, hairy, audacious goals I was left without direction. I felt lost.
Sure, I tried setting new goals. The dream boards, the mind maps, the goal-setting exercises. But my heart wasn’t in it. Deep down I knew they weren’t “real” goals; I was just trying to find something to do.
For a while I adopted other people’s goals. I allowed them to push me into one school or another, pursue one career or another, and live in one area or another. I was open to suggestion but all along I felt empty. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find the confidence I once had. I had no idea where I was going.
During this time I found myself alone for long periods. This was something new—something scary if I’m honest. I had a feeling God would speak to me while I was alone and I feared what He’d say. Would He be disappointed in me? Would He like me? Would He be upset with how I was living?
But I was tired of feeling empty so I confronted my fear. I let God speak to my heart and I allowed Him into my thoughts. I read my Bible, prayed, and wrote in my journal with more fervour than ever before. Once I realized God wasn’t angry with me I could feel His love for me. It was wonderful.
Reading the Bible became a different experience for me in this time. I found encouragement in the promises—like they could be meant for me, too. Promises like, “The LORD says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you,’” (Psalm 32:8).
In all my goal setting and future planning I had left God out. It worked for a while but in the end got me nowhere. Letting Him into my plans wasn’t easy, I wanted all the say, but once I did the wandering, aimless feelings were less powerful.
Finding new direction wasn’t immediate, but my time in the wilderness taught me that God has a plan for my life—I just can’t know it ahead of time. The balance between out of control/in control is tender but I’m learning to apply James 4:13-16, making my plans and being open to the Lord adjusting them. “If the Lord wants [me] to, [I] will live and do this or that.”