I once had a priest tell me, after I spent a while explaining to him all the concerns I had running through my head as a college senior, that God does not compartmentalize. Every day, every decision that I make, and everything that happens to me in that day, is for a greater purpose. I’ve heard similar sentiments before, and I have heard people tell me that God has a plan, which He does. But it was not until recently that I caught a glimpse of just how some of His plans have worked out in my life, and how what He could see before me was in fact what would make me happiest.
Learning the Hard Way
As I have mentioned in some previous posts, I am extremely passionate about religious freedom, and protecting our right to this vital freedom within our country, because right now it is facing unprecedented attack. Last spring, in 2016, I applied for an internship with The Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C. For those who do not know, The Heritage Foundation is a conservative think tank that seeks to “build an America where opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish.” With my passions for religious freedom and protecting traditional marriage I thought that Heritage would be the dream.
However, last spring I was informed that I would not be offered a spot in the internship program. I was disappointed, but I had started writing for the weekly Liberty Watch of First Liberty Institute, and had an internship opportunity with them near both my university and my hometown.
God’s Timing Proves Best
Fast forward to the following spring semester, 2017. I am getting ready to graduate from SMU, I am engaged, and as most seniors I am trying to figure out what happens after graduation. I reapplied for the internship with The Heritage Foundation, not expecting to get in, but I was hopeful. Come mid March, I heard back, and was offered a place in the twelve week program that would begin the day after my graduation ceremony and end August 11th.
When I first learned that I had received the internship I was excited, nervous, confused, and a whole host of other emotions. Could I go? Should I go? How many “what ifs” would plague me if I didn’t accept the offer? Part of me was scared that if I went all the way to D.C. I would love it and then have to choose between a job that was also my passion and my relationship.
I prayed, and I asked myself, and I asked God, what He wanted me to do. Was there something waiting for me in D.C? Why couldn’t I have been given this internship the summer previously? I was feeling guilty because I wondered if it was right for me to leave Dallas for three months when I was in the middle of preparing for my wedding.
Here I am, two months into the internship, and between receiving the offer from the Heritage Foundation and now, a lot has happened. In these few months I have been given the ability to see and understand at least a part of what God had in store for me. After I received the offer from The Heritage Foundation, God blessed me with my dream opportunity, to work with First Liberty Institute when I returned from D.C. That offer would never have been made had I not interned with them the year before, and continued to stay in contact with them since.
Trusting and Letting Go
If I had not come to D.C. who knows what kind of “what ifs” would have swirled in my mind. What I have found is that D.C. isn’t for me, at least not right now. God has revealed so much to me in such a short amount of time. He truly does not compartmentalize. He has a holistic approach to His plan, and to many that is a “duh moment”, and to me it kind of is too. But even though I have grown up being told that God always has a plan, sometimes it takes Him revealing pieces of it to us, and connecting those dots for us, before we truly begin to believe that.
I love the verse, “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the LORD—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.”
But if you continue to read in Jeremiah it continues, “When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart.”
I admit, like many, I have days and weeks where I pray every day, when I set aside time in my morning to spend time with Him. But there are also weeks where, whether it is because I am exhausted and just don’t want to get up a few minutes early, or because work gets in the way, or I would rather talk to those around me, I don’t pray the way I should. Yet, no matter how often I was present with Him, He never left. He answered every prayer I had this semester, and when I look back, I see exactly what He was doing, and I can see that my desires, and my hopes, all seemed to be in line with His own plans, something I have spent a lot of my time worrying about in the past.
God Has A Plan
God always has a plan, and I know I sound like a broken record when I say it, but He truly does. He has a plan that is more fulfilling and more joyful than any we could ever imagine, no matter how big or small our imagination or dreams, He will always have something better. God knows our hearts because He created us, He knew us before we were in our mothers’ wombs, and He knows what will bring us the greatest joy, not just happiness.
My go-to answer senior year, while many around me were worried about jobs and what they were doing after college, was “I don’t know, but I know God has a plan.” I said it without a second thought. There are days when I feel lazy in my faith and in my prayer life, but as I look back on it I realize that no matter how I am feeling, how close I feel to God, or how far away, He is always there. And not only that, I have never once doubted His love for me, or His plans that will bring me joy.
God uses each of our situations in a unique way, and while some may seem more challenging than others, He leads us through the darkness to bring us into the light, and without the darkness, how would we recognize the light?