How do you discern what you’re going to do in the future? Do you believe there’s a plan for your life?
If you would have asked me back in September of 2020 what I plan to do after I graduate from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, I definitely would have replied the plan was not to stay in Chattanooga, not even in the country for that matter. My vagabond heart was tired of being cooped up during the pandemic, and it raced at the thought of pursuing a higher education in Scotland after receiving my bachelors degree. Ironically, that same month back in September of 2020 I entered into a relationship that played a part in changing my plans.
Making my own plans for the future
I am a planner. I am a forward thinker. I know where I am going, and I plan to make it there. Usually, what stops me from going are circumstances outside of my control,--for instance a global pandemic. Even though the pandemic messed up my college experience and studying abroad it redirected me onto a path of healing, love, and peace. I started writing these articles. I started taking care of my mental health. I started to believe in a loving God again, and just when I was perfectly content being by myself I found someone who compliments me very well.
So here I stand, at the start of my senior year of college with a decision to make. Should I stay or should I go? You see, over the past year I have spent a lot of time cultivating my life, a relationship, and a career here in Tennessee. Though the thought of leaving to explore a new part of the world for me is enticing, I don’t feel that it is the move to make. This idea of staying is odd for me. I have never been fully content with where I am, not even when I lived in Yellowstone. So to find myself in a place where I know I have community, a loving relationship, and a career to pursue is something that I did not expect to find at the age of 22.
Instead of living the careless and laissez faire life I used to, I am asking myself grander-schemed questions: “Where do I want to be in five years?” As I ask these questions to myself about the future I can’t help but to think back to where I was September a year ago. In September of 2020 I never guessed I would be living the life I am today. That brings me to this question: ”Do we have as much control over our futures as we think we do?
Who is really in control?
In the society we live in, we are taught that if we set our minds to it we can manifest anything we desire. Sometimes, this feels true. Sometimes we can actually achieve our future goals even if they seem too far out of reach. But is this because of our own power, or are there other supernatural factors at play? How do we discern the difference between our plan and God’s? All of these questions draw me back to this popular verse: “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9).
When I was in grade school, I can remember on countless occasions the voice of God telling me glimpses of my future. Even a few times in college too. However now that I am 22 years old, I use my own discernment about my future.
Sitting by the creek this past weekend talking to a friend, I told him about how when I was younger I would literally have premonitions of my near future. I told my friend that I don’t feel as spiritually connected to God anymore because I don’t receive those spiritual discernments anymore. My friend said, “Maybe it’s because God doesn’t think you need it anymore.”
When he said that it was like a light bulb went off in my head. “Wow, you're right.” Maybe when I was younger and not capable of making the best decisions God gave me discernment. Maybe now that I am 22 years old, God trusts me to use my own discernment about my future.
With all that being said, I do not believe that God has predestined our lives. However, I do believe that at times God designs for certain people, things, and places to happen in our lives.
I don’t necessarily think that there is a plan for my life. However I do believe there is a purpose for it. Big or small, whatever that purpose may be, I believe that I carry the goodness and love of God deep down in my soul, and I am a vessel of that love. I am meant to share that love with people who need it.
I love art. I love painting big things like murals and sharing them with my community. But that is not my sole purpose in my life. I am a yoga instructor. I like teaching others healthy ways to strengthen their mind and bodies. But that is not my soul's purpose. I am a traveler. I love to explore new places and meet new people. But that is not my soul’s purpose. I play so many ever changing roles in life, but my main role is to be a vessel of God’s love. My purpose is to cultivate that intimate love, and then let it seep out to those I surround myself with.