Charting My Own Course
Planner. Over-achiever. Type A. Organized. Efficient. Perfectionist.
Those words defined me. I used them. Others used them to describe me.
Those descriptors made me proud. I knew who I was and where I was going. Not only that, I liked being that person. Even when things didn’t go according to my plan, I could adjust and keep going. No matter what happened, I was the person I was comfortable being. And while I certainly always knew I was far from perfect, it was something I strove to be.
Not anymore. Part of me is gone, lost, and I think it’s gone forever.
Plunged into Uncharted Water
I landed in uncharted water. I don’t know where I am, where I’m going, or how to get there. Instead of organized and efficient, I’m lost and confused.
Most of my life is the same: I’m still married to my wonderful husband of thirty-six years; I have the same job teaching seventh grade English and History. Live in the same house. Have a family that loves me.
But for the last seven years, I have been hit with one stressful, life-changing experience after another. Events and circumstances I never thought could or would happen to me, did happen. I didn’t plan any of them. I wasn’t ready for any of them. I didn’t want any of them.
For the first three and a half years, small parts of my life changed. All were surprising and unwanted, but I managed to keep going, determined God would “make all things work together for good” (Romans 8: 28) because I loved HIm. I prayed. Cried. Clung to His promises. Waited.
Then one event changed everything completely and forever: My oldest daughter, Kimberly, passed away at thirty-two.
Without warning, I plunged into the unknown and my course was uncharted. No longer did I know where I was going or how to get there.
Uncharted Water Brings Confusion
New words described me. Disorganized. Inefficient. Messy.
I was unable to plan ahead or move forward. Eventually, I learned this was part of grieving.
But I didn’t expect it to last so long. Especially since I rejoice that Kimberly is in heaven with our Savior, whole in body, spirit, and soul.
Even though there were people everywhere–my husband, my younger daughter, and two of my grandchildren–lived in the same house as me, I felt alone. There were friends who showed they cared. I went to work every day where I was surrounded by seventh graders. Much of life continued exactly as it always had.
For a while, I stopped doing things I had done my entire life: going to church regularly, attending my small group, reading my Bible. I didn’t stop praying or believing in God and His goodness. I didn’t question why or how could this happen. However, everything seemed different. It felt like I was living underwater and couldn’t quite get to the surface.
More changes kept coming. Confusing, unwanted changes that kept me feeling lost. My younger daughter, Erin, and grandchildren, Zach and Katie, moved in with us. Erin, who lost her sister and best friend, also was trying to rebuild her life. She needed comfort I seemed incapable of providing.
My principal decided to change the team I worked with and my new colleagues didn’t want my expertise.
The quiet, well-ordered life I loved no longer existed. And I didn’t have a clue of how to proceed.
While I knew life would never be the same without Kimberly, I felt completely lost. I didn’t expect or know how to cope with no longer feeling like I charted my own course. My confidence evaporated. How could I know what to do and how to do it if I didn’t have a plan? What should I do?
Trusting God in Uncharted Water
In desperation, I cried out to God. “Everything is changing, and I don’t know what to do or how to live this new life! It feels like I’m all alone in a boat, drifting in the middle of the ocean, no sign of land or markers anywhere. I don’t know where I’m supposed to be or how to get there.”
God answered with His Word, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8). He whispered, “I will never change. There is nothing else to worry about because I am always the same. You only need Me. You are exactly where I want you to be. And I am with you. Trust me. Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)”
That awareness, something I said I knew, changed my view. I still was in a boat on uncharted, open sea, but I’m not alone in the boat. I’m not drifting aimlessly. Through everything, God is always the same. All the time, in every circumstance, in my joy, sorrow, confusion. He is with me in the boat, out on the open sea.
The Purpose for Uncharted Water
God has me in that uncharted water for a reason. He is changing me. I am learning how to keep going even when I don’t have a plan and all I see is open ocean. When I feel alone. Despite not knowing where I’m going.
I can trust God. He knows exactly where I am. He has a plan, even when I don’t know what it is or understand it. Or like it. And HIs plan IS good.
I’m not alone. Not ever. No matter what it feels like. God is there.
With me and for me.
All the time.
Wherever I am.