I have a confession: It’s hard for me when plans don’t work out — especially since I tend to overthink everything and spend so much time planning out what-ifs and mapping things out with a timeline and checklist. My stress levels spike when things don’t work out.
When you grow up the oldest in the family, to a single teenage mom, you learn to become self-sufficient. You figure out that the key to survival is coming up with a good plan, whether it’s figuring out which city bus routes to take to get to your school concert or summer job or how to get yourself through college. And if plans fall through, you need to work things out on your own. It was by God’s grace that my ability to plan and problem solve helped me overcome hard things and rise above my humble circumstances.
But we are not meant to carry hard things indefinitely on our own, friend. When the coping, survival mechanisms that might have worked for us at an earlier season in our lives are stretched out over time, they eventually exhaust us and make us weary. And when that happens, it’s time for God to write something new within us.
For example, with this pandemic we’re all stumbling through, our emotional tanks are depleted, and we might be wondering, “Aren’t things getting better? Why am I struggling with so much stress?” We struggle because plans are constantly changing and it seems there’s no end in sight. We feel left on our own to figure things out, and we’re barely holding it together.
Exhaustion can occur over time when we carry our burdens alone, and the soul weariness that comes with it could be the exhaustion of loneliness.
During the pandemic, I faced more loneliness than I’d like to admit. Many of my plans fell apart, but as I wrote my new book, Sweet Like Jasmine: Finding Identity in a Culture of Loneliness, I began to see God calling me to let go of my plans.
God began showing me my old, childhood patterns of coping — staying isolated when I didn’t know what to do. I became honest with myself about the old scripts I’d been following, and I asked God to rewrite my story, making beauty out of brokenness. God invited me to let go of control, so I can make room for new things to grow.
When we can’t put the broken pieces of our plans back together, God whispers, Let me fill in the cracks with my love.
Here is a powerful metaphor I came across as I was researching material for my book. It illustrates God’s work of redeeming broken things to create beauty:
“Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending it with gold. Each piece is made more beautiful and valuable for having been broken. Gold isn’t used to hide flaws, but to highlight them. The breakage is treated as a valuable part of an object’s history to accentuate and treasure, instead of something to disguise and camouflage.
The artist embraces flaws as a way of not only repairing broken pottery, but also as a means of transforming it into something new: an original, unable to be duplicated, work of art.
You are God’s original work of art. Allow God to be the golden repair that lovingly holds you together, filling every crevice in your heart to bring new life, beauty, and wholeness.” (excerpted from my book, Sweet Like Jasmine)
When we don’t know what to do, instead of reaching for a plan, simply reach for God’s hand and each other. Let’s move out of loneliness and help each other look back on God’s goodness. Let’s share our burdens and the stories of faith that have shaped us.
So, today, when your plans fall through, stop and breathe. Think about God’s love, think about His goodness, and His grace that’s brought you through. Hear Jesus whisper, There is no safer place to be than right here close to Me. I will carry you through.
When you feel overwhelmed, remember that God understands. He is faithful to complete the work He started in you. He is with you. He loves you. And no one and nothing can thwart the plans God has intended for you.
So if you’re going through something hard, if plans fall through, and no end is in sight, let these words guide your heart as they have mine:
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you.
Isaiah 46:4 (NIV)