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)
This speaks to me in so many ways. It speaks to my heart and I can totally identify with what you have said. I can hardly wait for your book to arrive!! You are truly a blessing to so many of us.
Thank you for such comforting thoughts. I recently had to throw away a treasured coffee mug that I had broken in so many pieces I could not put it back together. It was pottery from a favorite store where I lived and it was a gift. I held on to it for weeks but in the end, I had to let it go. I feel like that broken mug at times. But thinking of how God completes us gives a positive perspective on this feeling of brokenness.
Beth Williams says
The pandemic has hurt & broken people in many ways. Our plans have fallen through, life changes, more stress & many weary souls. Jesus gives us a remedy in Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. or my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” When life hits hard & you don’t know what to do or which way to turn-go to God. Give Him all your heavy burdens & let Him heal your weary souls & ive you the rest you need.
Grace Shentaler says
Perfect article for me today as physically my life has changed. I am thankful for this truth, a wonderful reminder of God’s love.
Tab M Battle says
Excellent Ms. Bonnie. I am in total agreement with you. In my life I thought everything was to go according to plan. But since that is no longer the case. I find myself growing closer to God by giving Him control over everything in my life. Today I am at peace because I know the one who can do far better than I ever could in life. He has given me so much more. I am so thankful to Him and to you for writing such a beautiful article in times like these. We all must trust Him. He is so good and His mercy is every lasting
Carol Coates says
This is so beautiful and timely Bonnie. Thank you so much for sharing what you have learned. I too have struggled and while I have seen a glimpse of Holy Spirit jumping up and down with delight at the new thing He has for me, the just waiting and holding onto Him as He fulfills His promise to lead me right to it (and there really isn’t something I need to do but just seek Him and His fullness) goes so against my checklist mentality. Blessings for your book launch and the next book He is writing in your heart.
Becky Keife says
“God invited me to let go of control, so I can make room for new things to grow.” Amen. This is so beautiful and helpful. Thank you, friend.
Thank you. As a family, we are currently walking through a season of hurt. This has caused division amongst us but in the midst God is present and showing me that He is with us. He has promised to make all things new. That gives me hope.
So comforting to be reminded of God’s presence and care for us, that He carries us even when we are unaware
Kintsugi – what a wonderful healing way to see our brokenness through God’s eyes – He is the master crafter
Rana Cooper says
This was a confirmation of the sermon my pastor preached yesterday. God is continuously showing me that he is in control and I can rest not trying to have it all figured out.
Thank you Bonnie, I had a hard day. Felt very discouraged and alone, and helpless. I have told myself all day that God is with me, and I believe it, but sometimes the feelings don’t follow belief. Thank you for this post. It was comforting.