Before the pandemic hit, it was rare for me to be still enough for God to speak to me or direct my life. My days were filled with seeing friends and family, volunteering at my local church, and being involved in extracurriculars at school. But, as we all experienced in March, life came to a screeching halt.
My senior year of high school moved online and all the exciting events I had been looking forward to were either cancelled or postponed. I wanted to believe that it was all a part of a bigger plan and that God would bring forth goodness in one way or another, but I just didn’t know. I was so sad and unsure how good could be brought out of something so disappointing.
The most difficult part was that I wasn’t able to control any of it and I was having a hard time trusting that God would still provide for me in what was lost.
Trusting in God has always been a challenge. I’m the type of person that always wants to know exactly what is happening, exactly where I am going, and exactly where I am going to end up.
It’s so hard to give up control to be led by Him when I have no idea where He might take me.
It is really hard to wait on God to reveal what the plan is, so instead of waiting and trusting, I usually end up taking things into my own hands and making it happen myself.
In May, an exciting opportunity came up for me to go to Ohio to attend Franciscan University of Steubenville in August. I knew I always wanted to go to Franciscan at some point, but thought I would wait a couple of years, so it felt like a huge surprise—a redemption of sorts for the lost experiences and things I missed out on in the previous months.
It felt like God was opening a new door for me. The thought of picking up and leaving home for something new and vibrant felt like a dream coming true. I spent the week talking to my parents and those who I trusted to get their advice and spent time in prayer trying to discern God’s will.
My prayer that week mostly consisted of trying to listen to the voice of God. Trying to make out what He was speaking to me and what He wanted me to do. I would listen to praise and worship music, journal about the conversations I was having with God, and read scripture. I would feel tugs at my heart and a wave of peace in God’s presence. The moment I felt like I knew what God wanted me to do, I was sitting alone in my room listening to prayerful music. There was a lyric from a song that said “You sang till I found my song You danced till my heart woke up. Now I move to the rhythm of love, I can't praise You enough”. As I prayed through this lyric, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit within my heart and it felt like I was supposed to apply. Two weeks later, I got accepted to go to Franciscan University. A new adventure was finally going to happen.
I was so excited for this chapter of my life to begin; to meet new people, have an experience I had only dreamt of, having independence, and for life to transition into my own.
I had this desire of growing to have a deeper relationship with God and I thought this could be a situation to really learn to rely on nothing but Him, even when there were still a lot of unknowns. Going away to school on my own seemed like the best place for that to happen. I was filled with excitement as I started planning and preparing to move.
Then in July, three weeks before I was supposed to leave, COVID case numbers were getting higher in the U.S. and it wasn’t looking very safe for me to leave home. Conversations started about me reconsidering leaving this year. I spent another couple of days discerning, praying, and asking for advice about what to do.
My heart was sinking. I didn’t want to give up going to school. I didn’t want another thing to be lost. I didn’t want to continue to live in the mundane and what felt boring, and lose the opportunity for new experiences and a deeper relationship with God. Why was God taking this away when He had given me so much peace about it?
After a tense couple of weeks, I decided to stay home and do classes online. Never did I think that this is how my freshman year of university would be. Most of the other students would be going in person, so I knew I would feel like I was missing out and watching everything from the sidelines. I would be home instead of on-campus, I would be isolated instead of meeting new people and making a new community. I was completely devastated.
Once again, what I was looking forward to was taken away. Once again, I wanted to trust that this was a part of God’s plan, but I was so upset and unsure why this was happening I couldn’t see it.
I was confused at why God would let me go through the process of applying, getting ready to leave, and allow me to get my hopes up when I was just going to stay home anyway. Trusting that He would provide for me only grew heavier.
I knew that at some point, I would have to accept this was my new reality even though I was so upset about it. I figured I had 3 options to choose from: I could let disappointment lead to frustration and sadness, and stay upset that I wasn’t able to go away. I could stay disengaged, detached, and just coast through until it was safe for me to leave in the future. Or I could settle into this season of life.
To be honest, I jumped between all three at different points over the next few weeks until one day during prayer, God revealed to me another option. I could accept this season of life, let go of my own expectations, stop being constantly disappointed by comparing it to what could’ve been, and live fully right now.
This whole time, God was giving me the opportunity to grow and learn to actually let Him be in control. Most importantly, He was inviting me to a deeper relationship with Him right where I was at.
I am coming to understand that the good things that God wants for me, may not always be brought about the way I want them to or expect them to; but that through the unexpected, He is helping me grow and is preparing me for the good things He has in store.
Living in the unexpected where my plans changed, was teaching me to trust in God who never changes.
I realized that the entire process of applying to Franciscan, planning to go, then not going and my hope being lost, was an experience that was helping me to grow in trust.
I am learning that trust is a daily decision, not just a one-time thing. It’s in the many little moments throughout my day that I need to offer my trust to God. I still catch myself being self-reliant and becoming too anxious to wait for God’s answer but I am learning that when I do trust in the Lord, there is peace and I’m able to see the good things that He is and has been providing for me all along. I’m learning that trust looks like surrendering what I think is good and what I want to do and instead turning to the Lord and to ask ‘is this what You want me to do?’
I am seeing how He is turning what I thought would be a year of disappointment into a year filled with beauty, joy, and abundance.
He is turning my attention away from what I lost and more towards gratitude for what I have and what I have gained—a new experience of God’s love and protection, unreplicable time with my family and community, and a deeper relationship with God can be found right in front of me in the simplest ways.
We don’t need to worry about what is next but instead can have peace that He is in control. He promises His goodness will prevail over losses, disappointments, and heartaches if we trust in Him.
In the midst of our lives stopping, important things being cancelled, or even wondering if God is around and if He’s working in our lives; He is inviting us to make space for Him right where we are and He will meet us there.
He continues to whisper in the stillness of our hearts “My goodness can come forth even now, even in what is lost, even in the disappointment, even when plans do not go the way you thought, I am in control and I know where you are going. I am not going to abandon you or leave you to fend for yourself. I will provide for you and bring you where you need to be. Will you trust me?”
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