Are you following Your plan, or God’s Plan?

This question has been asked at the end of my day throughout my life, “Have you had a good day?” Typically, my response would be, “Yes, it went well.” Or, “No, it was awful.” I’ve noticed that my definition of having a “good day,” meant that everything went the way I thought it was supposed to go. However, I came to the realization that if every day went exactly how I thought it was supposed to go, why would I need God? If everything worked out according to “my plan” I wouldn’t need God’s help. However, I’m only human. If I followed my own plan and based every decision solely on my emotions without God’s direction, my life would honestly be a “train wreck. Instead, I choose God’s ways over mine and His plans over mine because they are far better than any plans I could ever create for myself. For instance, the School Psychology Master’s program that I am currently in is very competitive. Only 12 students are allowed in each program, and hundreds apply. I had my heart set on the University of Dayton. When I was denied acceptance, I was heart broken. BUT God had another plan for my life. I received an acceptance letter from Miami University the same day, offering me free tuition with a full-time graduate assistantship and a $13,000 stipend. Trust me, God’s plan is ALWAYS better than any plan you’ve ever came up with for your life. God loves you more than you’ll ever know, and He has higher plans for you than you would ever think about creating for yourself.

Next, I started thinking about what typically defines my day as “bad”? I came to the conclusion that I have based my response solely on circumstances that are out of my control. One’s circumstance is only temporary. I stopped allowing temporary circumstances that are out of my control define my days as “bad,” and I stopped having bad days. Furthermore, this does not mean that every single thing in my life went perfectly after this realization. Additionally, it means that when you stop allowing temporary circumstances that are outside of your control affect you, you are expressing to God that you trust Him and you’re allowing Him to take control over what you can’t. I began to focus on what I could control, and began to see God move in my life than ever before. Why stress over things that are outside of your control, when God is eventually going to work everything out for your good if you love and trust him?

“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Moreover, I began to challenge myself when people asked me the question, have you had a good day?” I would take this simple question and reflect on my entire day. Every temporary circumstance that was out of my control, I would pray and ask God to take control over it. Secondly, I would pray that God would direct me in following His plan for my life every single day. I challenge you to do the same thing, and I promise that you’ll find peace in uncomfortable circumstances when you follow God’s plan. Allow Him to handle what you cannot control.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Drastically Different

Being placed in a new setting can sometimes be out of our comfort zones. Being around new people that do not know you can be intimidating. Introducing yourself for the first time is not always easy. Why? It’s all about first impressions. When people first meet you how do they describe you? What do you impress upon them? Or are you only trying to impress them? The word impress can have two very different meanings. Either you can take matters into your own hands and impress good upon others, or you can be afraid of being different and choose to alter your actions to impress others. Which one will you choose?

Growing up, I was raised in church my entire life. I was dedicated as a baby at the church my family attends. My great grandfather founded the church, my uncle is now the pastor, and every family member holds their own part. Growing up, being a Christian is the only thing I ever knew. Every Sunday we went to church, no matter what the circumstance was, we were there. In high school, I never fell into the “party scene,” and I was not really tempted to either. I had Christian friends, and the friends I hung out with did not attend the parties either. In high-school I didn’t really feel different. I played sports, I had friends, and I enjoyed my all four years. However, when I graduated and my friends and I started to get older I started to realize how different I was. I am 23 years old now, and I attend Miami University for grad School. After moving out and being around students my age every day, I have found that I. do. not. blend. in. at. all. After settling into the “college atmosphere,” I began to feel less and less like I belonged.

Furthermore, around the first week of grad school my new friends asked me to go to a bar with them one night. They were aware that I didn’t drink, and they respected that I was different. I accepted because I felt like I was not doing the best job at making friends. I was not like everyone else. I was afraid everyone would think I was “boring.” I began to feel tempted. I wanted so badly to fit in, and to show them that I’m young and I can have fun as well. I wanted to feel accepted and wanted by this new “college setting” I was now immersed into, but most of all I wanted to fit in with the group. Next, As I’m sitting in this bar, a friend in my grad program started sharing his life story with me, it began how he is from a different country. His parents moved to the U.S. when he was young, and he never felt welcomed. He was bullied in school. He told me countless stories about how no one ever chose him, and he didn’t even get along with his family. He explained how he was constantly searching of ways to fit in, and how he would try and find role models, but then they would disappoint him and let him down. He even went back to his country, and was no longer welcomed there because his family left. “I just have always felt different he said.” After hearing this my heart ached. In the middle of this bar, I had to share with him that Jesus loved him so much that He died on the cross for his sins and rose three days later. He still lives. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. He chose you. He set you apart, and He wants you to follow him. Jesus will never let you down, He’ll never disappoint, and He will choose you every single day for the rest of your life no matter what. After all of these things flooded out of my mouth it hit me. I have been feeling the same exact way as he had. What I said to him was exactly what I needed to hear all along. Jesus was speaking through me to tell him what he and I both needed to hear. I was in awe.

After understanding that I didn’t need to fit in because I was already accepted and loved. I started to realize not everyone grew up the same way I did. Not everyone had the same opportunity I did, like my friend in the above story. I thought, I know Jesus because of my parents and my background. I always asked the question, “if I didn’t have Christian parents would I know Jesus?” I wanted to find the reason why I was a Christian, and why I believed in God. After witnessing to my friend and being put in a tempting environment. I found my answer, clear as day. Jesus. Chose. Me. Now it seems very simple, but it’s powerful. I was chosen to be different, and share the gospel with those who didn’t have the opportunity to have Christian parents or role models. Not everyone grows up knowing Jesus, or going to church every Sunday. That doesn’t change anything in His eyes. If I didn’t have the opportunity to grow up learning about Jesus I would hope that someone would share the good news with me. Everyone is tempted, but it’s how you choose to handle the temptation that matters. Having a “Jesus. Chose. Me. Attitude” can help you overcome any temptation in life. I was chosen to stand out, and encourage others going through the same situations as I am.

So next time you’re in a new setting, out of your comfort zone, around new people, and introducing yourself for the first time do not be intimidated. Think about what you will impress upon them. The first impression is everything. You never know what someone is hiding behind their smile, they may need your encouragement more than you know. I always ask myself, ” if I would’ve been afraid to be different, and chose to drink… would I have been able to witness to my friend, would he have taken me seriously if I would have? Do not get caught up in trying to impress others if your impression gets distorted while doing it. Do not be afraid to be different. remember Jesus. Chose. You. Share the good news, be the light, you never know who needs it. If you blend in with everyone else, why would anyone want what you have when you’re no different? When people see the true joy that you have only Jesus can provide, that’s when they’ll ask you, “Why are you so happy all of the time?”

What makes you drastically different?

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2