Life’s plans rarely work out the way we would like. Instead, life happens through twists and turns and trails diverted. The map we created, never really existed. The things we knew we wanted, and yes expected, in our twenties are not necessarily the same things we treasure in our forties. My vision was extremely short-sighted when I was young. The things I knew would make me happy, are not what brought me real joy. I gripped my life map in my young hands, holding tightly to my dreams. The edges frayed, the ink ran, and the words faded as the years went by. My grip began to loosen on what I once wanted, to open and accept what life was giving me.
I just knew I would go back to my home state of Maryland, after graduation, to teach in my familiar home turf. Several resumes and interviews later, it wasn’t happening. Then at the end of that first summer, I got a phone call from my former professor, would I be interested in teaching in a small school, in a small town in the mountains of Appalachia? I look back on my first couple of years of teaching with wonderful memories. Wonderful co-workers, friends made, bowling league, small-town football and basketball games, and a community talent show. I guarantee my life was richer for having said “yes” to this turn in the road.
I thought I might marry my boyfriend that I had dated on and off since the summer after our junior year of high school. I loved him. He loved me. We went away to different colleges, ended up in different states. We still kept in touch, we had a strong friendship. But, it wasn’t to be. We closed that chapter an ended up marrying different people.
Married at twenty-four, widowed at thirty-two. When my husband and I said “until death do us part”, I wasn’t expecting it so quickly. Eight years can seem long when one is waiting for something, but far too short when death steals dreams. My grip loosened even more on my life map, as part of it was torn from my grasp. I learned resilence. I learned to be at peace with being single. I learned priorities during this time period.
I have memories of my son that I cherish (and continue to do so). For many years it was just the two of us. I learned how to juggle and multi-task and chauffeur my son as a single parent. He made me a mom, a joy that makes my heart full.
I found out what it meant to struggle and sacrifice. I also learned the value of time, and laughter, and friendship. I appreciated family more. I said thank you and I love you more often and I meant it.
I met my second husband on an online dating site. I took a chance. He took a chance. He had also been widowed at a young age. We knew what we wanted in our thirties. We both serve a God of second chances. The God who loves us through all of life’s trials and wonderful moments.
I’ve taught in different states and different school systems. When I was in my forties I decided to go back to school to get my Masters degree. I didn’t know if I should. I didn’t know if I could. But, I did. I graduate in two and half weeks with a 4.0. My life’s dreams zigged and zagged to the finish line.
I always loved New England and secretly dreamed of living there someday. Instead, I moved from the Mid-Atlantic to the south, and now am in the rural farmland of the Mid-west. My plans have changed. My life has softened. I look at life differently now. I appreciate it more. The surprises that life throws at me remind me that I am not in control. I never was. God is. He is the Master Planner and His ways are always perfect and exactly on time.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV