“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.”
I’ve talked about the college process a lot on here. There are a lot of different parts to this process, from standardized tests to essays to lots of submit buttons, but by far my least favorite part is the “I don’t know”s.
Where are you going to school next year? I don’t know.
What do you want to study? I don’t know.
What do you want to do after college? I don’t know.
I have ideas, canned answers just for the sake of avoiding those three little words: I don’t know. Such and such are my top four schools, this is probably what I’ll study, I think I’d like to have a job, and suddenly, everyone thinks I at least have an inkling of an idea about my future. Fake plans are definitely the easy way out.
The other week, I sat down for coffee with my small group leader and the conversation steered this direction. When I told her how uncomfortable I was with the “I don’t know”s, she asked me why. I realized: jealousy. It feels like everyone has their life together but me. It feels like I need to have the ten-year plan that ends with marriage, two kids, a steady career, and a white picket fence, because everyone else has that. It feels like there are all these expectations I need to meet that everyone else is meeting except me. It feels like not knowing by November seals my doom.
As I underwent this epiphany, she encouraged me by saying that the ten-year plans – the ones that get super specific and confident – leave very little room for God. If I know months in advance that I’m going to go to School A and get Major B and get Job C, where is God going to come in and shake things up a little bit? What if He tries and I’m so obsessively following my map that I miss His?
I may know very little right now, but I do know that I don’t want to miss God’s plan for my life.
The tricky part of this is that, right now, God’s plan for my life consists of three little words: I don’t know. It consists of me sitting here with open hands, waiting for letters from colleges in the mail. It’s me not having any clear, satisfying answers to the Big Three Questions. It’s trusting that He knows what I don’t.
I am learning to give myself the freedom to not have a plan. This is so contrary to my nature it’s not even funny. This summer, I started using a very intense planning system called the bullet journal, and I’ve been using it all school year. When friends want to spontaneously have fun, I need to take a minute, because spontaneity has its time and its place and that time and place are never and nowhere. (Just kidding. Sort of.) There have been weeks in the past couple months when I’ve been so busy planning ahead that I think it’s Thursday on a Tuesday (and let me tell you, realizing that it’s Tuesday instead of Thursday sucks). I am a planner in every sense of the word, and I’m very serious about it.
But instead of rigorous scheduling, I’m currently practicing the art of not knowing. And honestly, I really do think it’s an art, because “I don’t know” is about the least satisfying answer to give anyone. But it’s the answer I’ve got right now. God knows what I don’t, and I’m learning to be okay with that. Even better – I’m learning to be stoked about that. Because wherever I end up, whatever I study, whatever I do: it’s going to be awesome, because He’ll be there the entire time.