Have you ever uttered the words, “This is not how I planned it.”? Most of us have. In fact, life rarely works out how we had planned. A high school student dreams of getting the lead in the school play but someone else is chosen. Or, you interview for a new position that is perfect for you but someone else gets the job. This has happened to me twice in my life when my job was eliminated. This certainly wasn’t the ending I planned or imagined.
Americans love sports, but if you think about it, only one champion won the final game. Everyone else’s year ended in a way that’s different from what they’d imagined, dreamed and worked toward. “It’s not how I planned it” happens to us constantly in life. The question is, what do we do when it happens?
I recently watched a CBS This Morning interview with Adrianne Haslet. I didn’t know who she was or about her story until I watched that morning, and wow: I gained wisdom from her that morning I want to share with you.
Adrianne was a spectator at the Boston Marathon in April 2013 when a bomb went off. The shrapnel from the bomb damaged her left leg, requiring an amputation below the knee. You might imagine it wasn’t how she had planned her life. She went through a lengthy rehabilitation process; and, while she wasn’t a runner, she ran in the 2016 Boston Marathon.
Then, outside of her apartment recently, she was injured in a “hit and run” accident, again on the left side of her body, which has required her to go through another lengthy rehabilitation process. This is not the way she planned it.
She said two things in the interview that might serve as lessons for us:
1. Although she was physically and emotionally hurt and her life was turned upside down, her response was to say, “I have chosen not to be a victim.”
2. Then, she followed up with what might be a more important lesson, saying, “I am not defined by what happened in my life, I am defined by how I live my life.”
She serves as a reminder to us that you have a choice when things don’t go as planned: You can be a victim, allowing the circumstances to define you and control you. Or, you can do as Adrianne has done and choose to be defined by what you do next, how you respond to that disappointment and how you live your life going forward.
Scripture says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8). We need to remember that God is in control. He is sovereign to our world.
I know that I personally need to accept that what I had planned might not be part of God’s plan for me. In fact, what I had planned may not be good for me. I also know that when things don’t go as I had hoped, God will use it for good for mine and others’ benefit. “And 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).
So, when something doesn’t go according to your plan, you have a choice to make. I encourage you to accept it, learn from it, and keep moving forward.
Dale Kreienkamp is the author of How Long, O Lord, How Long? Devotions for the Unemployed and Those Who Love Them. He is a Human Resources executive and consultant who has experienced a personal journey of unemployment twice when both positions were eliminated in organizational restructuring. These personal experiences created a desire within him to help others impacted by unemployment through inspirational devotions. Dale is also an active volunteer at his home church and leader in his local community.