This can’t be the plan. Can it?
I remember thinking that in the summer of 2014 as I dragged the mop through our dusty Middle Eastern apartment for the last time, shiny clean stripes crisscrossing the dusty tile. My roommate Abi had already left to go back to her home state, and that night I was going to lock up that iron door for the last time and start heading back to mine.
What do you do when you feel like God called you to something that you thought would last a long, long time – years of mopping desert dust, or shaking off English rain – and it only lasts a few months? What do you do when the door to the place you thought God was leading closes and He opens a very different one instead, one that makes you think … no way.
God, I was ready. I was ready for this crazy life overseas, whatever that meant. I was ready to try to plant my life somewhere for a long, long time.
I know I said anything. But I don’t know if I’m ready for this.
I remember promising God about a month before … if He would just open the door, whatever the door was, I’d walk through it, no matter what country it was. And now it looked like — in the face of a lot of closed doors for long-term visas to countries where I could live and serve, doors I’d knocked on repeatedly — the yawning, wide-open, undeniable door was to go back to America and write a book.
I’d said yes … but I wouldn’t say I was an instant fan.
“What are you afraid of?” I remember Abi asking me over breakfast.
“I’m afraid of closing the door to the work I thought I was called to overseas. I’m afraid of losing this opportunity to share the depth of Christ’s love with people who haven’t experienced it yet and never getting that opportunity back. I’m afraid I’ll do a bad job at communicating who He is and what He’s doing in my life through a book. How do you even get all that in a book? What if I mess it up? And I’m afraid that somehow — because it’s based on my story — it will somehow become about my singleness and not about Jesus.”
Abi leaned back in her chair, fingers curled around her yellow Mackinac Island mug.
“What would you want it to look like?”
I thought for a minute.
I didn’t want it to be some sort of manual for living single. Who was I to try to tell anybody that? I’m a hot mess. All I knew was that Jesus had happened, He had happened in my life in a big way in the wasteland of my broken plans, and that anything good in me was Him. He had taken my broken pieces and was molding a brand new path. That was my story.
“I’d just want to try to communicate how Jesus is enough, how He’s the prize of our life. And I’d hope it could lead to some good conversations.”
He shows up … always
Packing up those bags in the Middle East was tough. Unpacking that garage in England and helping a friend set up house with the furniture I’d planned to use wasn’t easy. Turning in my resignation and leaving the people, places and work I loved was hard.
But I’d love to go back to 2014 and tell that Grace … you have no idea the conversations you’ll get to have, or how God is going to show Himself faithful.
In 2016, after a lot of prayer and days at the keyboard, “I Don’t Wait Anymore” the book showed up in print. I nearly hyperventilated. Blogs you can delete, but all that bound paper feels like a lot of yourself that you’ll never be able to get back.
But that book, the one I didn’t want to write, brought with it an outpouring of God’s grace that I never would’ve expected. He brought me to the table over and over with friends I never would’ve known otherwise. A precious church on the Oregon coast. A group of girls in Akron, Ohio. A dear new friend in Missouri. A girl I met for coffee on the front porch of a cafe in Dover, Delaware. Last year was spent tracing the U.S. and pulling up a chair, and I walked away with a full heart at the way God is pursuing people personally and creatively all over this world. Beautiful stories. A beautiful God.
And often our broken plans are the place where He chooses to meet us.
The past few years have held a lot of things, as adulthood apparently unavoidably does — seasons lost, seasons gained, tears, scars, adventure, laughter, hardship, joy. It’s been a quiet time with some deep valleys, and I tucked away for some of it, wrestling it out in the quiet of my house and heart with the Father. I’ve had moments where I dug back into God, asking Him to teach my heart all over again who He is and how to wander this road well.
But it’s been infused with joy and the fresh wind of new seasons.
And as I see His work in my own heart and in the hearts of others — His personal, loving and unrelenting pursuit — I’m grateful all over again.