It certainly was not my plan for Dan to break up with me. Even though I knew one of two things could happen – we stay together or break up – I did not envision this season in Houston panning out the way it has. It was not my plan to have to move to a different growth group. I did not plan on making my own autonomous routine in this massive city. It was not my plan to go a different grad school from the one I had mentally set my sights on for the last year. Yet here I am – single, in a new growth group, and committed to the University of Canterbury instead of the University of Otago.In regards to my planning tendencies, I have adopted the philosophy of “palms up” over the last few years. When your hands are open and facing up, you hold something, but you also offer it over in surrender. A huge part of my life story is that the Lord replaced a lot of my innate worry with supernatural joy. I am not very high strung; over the years, I have learned to relax and roll with the punches pretty easily. But I still have a Cinderella fit for that Type A glass slipper. I cannot flip an internal switch and adopt some Bohemian lifestyle. It’s just not how I am wired or who I am. Being proactive is a good thing. I think it is okay to have goals and ideas for what I want to do and where I want to be next. I just have to be “palms up” with those plans.
Because, as the book of James teaches, I cannot boast about tomorrow.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
Though I was submitting my ideal plans to God, trying to have open palms for everything in my life, the reality is that I was starting to hold them too closely. I knew nothing was guaranteed, but I felt pretty secure with my post-graduate two-year plan.
One of the first bible verses I ever memorized was Jeremiah 29:11 – “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.” In many ways, I had disregarded that promise, focusing and depending more on my own decisions. As long as they glorified God, I figured, He would be pleased with whatever I do. I think that is true; God does not give us a fixed blue print for the rest of our lives. That would make life pretty boring, and it would retract the necessity of faith. But even without those set instructions, I am learning that He is still in charge.
Given my changed circumstances over the last month, God’s plans are clearly different from my own. And hard as it is to believe it, I know they are also far better. When you’re still suffering from the loss of something good, though, it’s just hard to give it up for an unknown great. But I expectantly anticipate whatever future “greats” those are. Be it boyfriend, education, profession, location… really anything that life throws my way, I am putting my trust fully back in the Lord’s sovereignty.
I am still glad I get to leave in December, but the last month in Houston really hasn’t been all that bad. There is no way around it – breakups just really suck. It is new territory that I don’t know how to navigate; from what I have experienced so far you just have to bear the spikes of pain and sadness until they pass. But the hurting does fade. It is becoming less powerful. Eventually, some beautiful combination of time and Jesus will heal it completely.
Apart from post-break up blues, though, this season has still been really good. This is not my first loop around the one-semester-adventure merry-go-round, and I don’t think I’ll be settling in to a place longterm anytime soon. Even though I knew I would only be in Houston for the fall, I decided to dive all-in and make the most of my time here. I have not held back because of the brevity of my stay, and now I am reaping the fruit of that attitude. It still amazes me that in such a short amount of time, routine establishes itself. I have only been living in H-Town three months, and it actually feels a little like home. Without even really realizing it, I have a life here. I have community. I am surrounded by new friends that love me and are so fun to be with, and I am rediscovering and embracing the freedom inherent in singleness.
Some of God’s better plans have already begun to reveal themselves, too. Last spring I was satisfied with the idea of being a coffee barista during this stint in Houston. Instead, I ended up working for Boosterthon. Everyday I go to a job that I not only enjoy, but one that spurs on growth, service, and leadership within me. My first growth group was great, but being a part of this second one feels very providential. One of the leaders said they had been praying for one more spiritually mature person to join the group. “At all costs,” she joked. But three weeks late, I roll in, and I am definitely supposed to be there, both investing in and learning from the great folks in that group. The grad school curveball was pretty stressful; I had to choose the University of Canterbury rather than Otago because I was coming down to a time crunch. It turns out Furman, where my sister goes to school, doesn’t even have an affiliate study abroad relationship with Otago after all, so Georgia and I would not have been able to live together in New Zealand. UC’s program also emphasizes diverse learners, which I have an interest in. And hey, it’s still New Zealand! I don’t know what this next adventure will be like, but I am excited to embark on it in just a couple months.
Though my time in Houston has not at all been what I thought it would be like, it has not been bad. Hard as it is, it was right for Dan to break up with me, and I am grateful for the life I have established here apart from him. It has reinforced the notion that I really can live anywhere. (After all, it can only go up from Houston, right?! [Sorry Houstonians, I know you love your city.]) No matter where my life journey continues to meander, there will be new people and the promise of community and purpose. I would like to figure out the next steps in my future, but I know I need to let experiences play out for themselves. My plans are not my own. My life is not my own. It is the Lord’s. Even when I don’t understand, He is still sovereign, and I entrust myself to Him.
October Picture Journey
|Booster Baes Pumpkin Decorating|
|Still not fall, but it was 75 degrees. Plus Audrey is one heck of an awesome friend.|
|I LOVE MY JOB…|
|Even when I get pied in the face|
|Joey Pierce: My dad’s Citadel knob’s son.|
|Family Reunion round 2! So grateful for a little bit of fall weather with the Compton Clan|
Boosterthon Halloween Costume Party was a blast.
When your job description includes dancing, and you multiply it by 20 people that also do that, and you take your job’s sound system and disco balls for the evening, it’s bound to be a good party. These people are my people.
So. Even though life is not at all what I thought it would be, here’s to still enjoying this special season and making the most of my last month in Houston!