I’ve always enjoyed the LIFE board game. You know the one – you pick your colored car, get your little pink or blue pegs, either go to college or don’t, try to get the mansion and retire with a ton of cash? Yeah, that one. Its a pretty fun little game. Personally the competitor in me really enjoys collecting all of the cards and finishing before everyone else. But what I’ve recently realized and kind of like about the game is that it pokes fun at how mapped out all of our lives are.
If you were to put my life on that board game it wouldn’t quite fall in to the place its “supposed” to be. Sure, I graduated college, and picked a career path but I would need an off-road vehicle, not a mini van, to be where I currently am.
I’m now officially in my mid-to-late twenties and recently quit a pretty cool, well-paying job to work part-time retail while I try to become an elementary teacher. I’m still single, and live with two girls in the suburbs with my dog. In the past, the idea of being where I am right now was anxiety-inducing. I had my own picture-perfect little LIFE board drawn up in my head. Go to college, major in whatever, get married (find fulfillment in that), buy a house, have kids (find more fulfillment in that), and retire into the sunset. 10 years ago I thought for sure I would have a ring on my finger, a roof over my head (that I owned) and at least one kid by now – and if I didn’t I was sure it was because I had some how failed and taken the status of that weird older single girl in the church who is great but just can’t seem to find a guy – because isn’t that what life is all about? Getting married and stuff?
I was pretty narrow-minded in my idea of happiness and success. But, I was also a naive teenager. It’s funny how much perspective is gained from time and life experience. Having just turned 26 I’m able to look back on my life thus far and see some pretty great twists and turns. If I had lived life like I thought I would and achieved my high school measure of success I wouldn’t know what true independence is like – how scary and brave and wonderful it is to have to pay your own bills and be the sole decider of where you’ll live and what you’ll do with your life. I wouldn’t have the freedom to travel at a moment’s notice or put as much time into my ministry with my girls. I wouldn’t be me.
The sad part is I spent so much time wishing that my life was more like my picturesque little LIFE board that I missed out on a lot of the beauty of struggling through things I hadn’t planned and learning independence.
I remember interviewing for a job a few months back and they asked me what my 10 year plan held. Unlike the high school version of myself, I really had no idea. Its not for lack of ambition or dreams, its an open-handedness that looks to the One who plans my future and says “Okay, Lord, show me what you want for me and I’ll do it” – its knowing that His plans for me are far greater than any small thing I could ever dream up. It’s trust.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you’re going to be drawing up your future, use a pencil.
Ultimately, our futures are not ours to plan. Although its fun to play the game and check off those big milestones (graduation, marriage, kids, etc.), everyone’s journey is going to look a little different and we need to be willing and comfortable to deviate from the plan. And honestly that’s just like the Lord, isn’t it? We always think he’s going around “changing plans” but really he’s just kind of going full steam ahead on to what he ultimately has planned for each of us – which is way better than our wildest imaginations.
If you really look at the game of LIFE, there isn’t much to it – it goes quickly and ends too soon. I’d rather deviate from the windy road a little more, add some adventure and go where the Lord takes me.