When Everything Goes Wrong

“What are you afraid of?” he said. “Don’t you trust that God has a plan?” I had this conversation with a pastor in the beginning of my junior year of college.  I had spent the summer selling over-priced vegetable plants for minimum wage while my many of my friends had landed great internships, gone on exciting trips, or gotten engaged to the love of their life. The recession was in full swing, and I was terrified of what would happen when I was no longer living my life by a course catalog. God was at work in everyone else’s life, but was he going to take care of me? 

Sometimes, I feel like my life just isn’t going anywhere.  Facebook certainly hasn’t helped, as it has now become way too easy to check up on what my friends are doing at least seventeen times a day.  My news feed is always littered with relationship status updates and photos of great jobs and smiling children and poolsides and far-away places.  Some days, I feel like I will throw my computer across the room if I see another Instagram photo.  Seriously, why haven’t I been #blessed too?

Some seasons of life are just like this—full of monotonous school work or a boring job or a complete lack of dating prospects, or all of the above if you are like me.

“What are you afraid of?”  I asked myself. When I first graduated from college, I was afraid of a lot of things.  In a whole world full of choices, I was afraid of making the wrong choice.  I was afraid of somehow missing God’s plan for my life, as if it was a coded message in a bottle that would float right past me if I wasn’t looking hard enough.  I was afraid of having a bad hair day, not meeting “God’s match for me”, and being single forever. 

I got a job, and I hated it.  I assumed that I missed “God’s will for my life”, so I tried again.  I got another job, but I traded in my crazy stressful schedule for a flexible part-time schedule that didn’t pay my rent.  Time and time again, I ended up right back where I started, looking for this elusive perfection like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  What was I doing wrong?  Maybe I hadn’t prayed enough, or read the right Bible verses, or listened to the right people.  I always expected that “God’s will for my life” would involve an attractive man, a job that didn’t make me crazy, and some exotic scenery to post on Instagram. 

But what if God was there, in the mess?  I recently watched a documentary that said we should “Live as an experiment.”  In an experiment, every failure teaches us something.  What if failure was part of the plan?

“What are you afraid of?”  I asked myself again.  Sure, I had considered moving to another country or choosing another career or taking some great risk, but I had been so afraid of making the wrong choice.  I had been so afraid of missing Mr. Right if I wasn’t in just the right place at just the right time.  I had been so afraid of failure.  But then, I thought back to the time I faced a difficult season and found comfort in scripture—especially the book of Psalms, which has now been written in and tear-stained and slept-on.  I thought back to the time I lost my job, and God provided for my needs.  I thought back to all the times I thought I had missed “God’s will for my life”, but learned an invaluable lesson during that season.  All of my failed experiments brought me closer to the truth, and the truth is that whatever I choose to do, if I am allowing myself to be used by God, I am in the right place. 

Through my failures I found freedom, knowing that even if everything goes wrong, the story isn’t over yet.

So, what are you afraid of?