We all have dreams of how we envision our life when we “grow up”. Growing up in the South, my dreams were full of family. Family events, family dinners, raising children and of course the single family house complete with that “white picket fence”. It never included a full-blown career, lots of travel, nights out, swinging from a trapeze, or dangling from two silks anchored to the ceiling. It didn’t include living in a tiny condo or living in the Nation’s Capital. It didn’t include a Master’s degree.

Family. Kids. White Picket fence. Teaching. That’s about it. That was my vision.

God has provided for me in so many ways. Tonight, as I lamented to my mother on the phone about my career path and how, at this point and time the path seems to have roadblocks in it, she shared her wisdom. You see, I’m not happy with the full-time job I’ve had for the past 3 years. I’m ready for a change. It WAS an answered prayer when I got it, but now it’s not shiny and new. Its novelty has worn off. I want to move on and do more of what I love. I am also still single and have no children of my own.

My mom, in her loving, mothering way, listened to me and… (as was so needed in the moment)  I felt like she was “getting” what I was saying. And then, she had this wonderful way of pointing me back to God, His Peace, and His provision in my life.

Matthew 6: 27-30 says “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you? “

I share, “I know, I know He HAS always provided for me…but I can always find ways to “poke holes” in those provisions!” Thinking about my lack of a white picket fence, children, and a husband or even a man who is a stable force in my life that is NOT one of my brothers or friends all comes to mind. This job that I’m currently in and not challenged by comes to mind. These are the areas where HE HAS clearly NOT provided for me. I exclaim, “This is NOT THE LIFE I planned for!”

Mom points out a visual. “I see Mary following her adult child down the road as HE carries the cross. He is bruised, scarred, and bleeding profusely. She probably felt that was not the life she planned for either, and she raised the SON of GOD. There she was, the mother of God incarnate, watching him suffer and drag a cross, hang on that cross, all the while-carrying the weight of the world. I’m sure she could have “poked holes” in that plan for her life!”

The image was a stark and drastic difference from my life. I’m thinking  “Ummm, mom, that was MARY!”—there’s really no comparison. The contrast is almost laughable, however, the sentiment is similar. There’s no doubt that Mary had no idea what God had in store for her life when, one night and Angel appeared and told her (and Joseph) about the baby she was going to have.

Luke 1: 28-34 states:  28 “The angel came to her and said, ‘Greetings! The Lord has blessed you and is with you.’29 But Mary was very startled by what the angel said and wondered what this greeting might mean.30 The angel said to her, ‘Don’t be afraid, Mary; God has shown you his grace.  31 Listen! You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.  32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of King David, his ancestor.  33 He will rule over the people of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.’34 Mary said to the angel, ‘How will this happen since I am a virgin?'”

I can’t even imagine the chaos, confusion, and turmoil this news would have brought to Mary and Joseph!  Can you even imagine the CHANGE that turn of events caused in their lives? I’m sure if she would have known in advance what God had in store for her she wouldn’t have signed up for it.

Maybe that’s why He doesn’t let us see the whole picture. He unravels it one minute, hour, day, week, month, and year at a time. If we were to catch a glimpse of the joy and sorrow of what HIS plan was with us, would we sign up? Maybe not. I don’t think I would have signed up if the cliff notes had been given to me.

“Single, no kids of your own, small condo, lots of working.”

It would be too much, or NOT ENOUGH. We wouldn’t be able to fathom how to accomplish that task or understand how we got THERE. We wouldn’t understand how we could live through the pain. We wouldn’t understand how we could contain the joy.

Believe me, this is one of those Lions I’m still working to conquer one day at a time. But when I have those moments of looking in the face of the “This Isn’t the Life I Planned for Lion”, from this point on I have a clear visual of Mary as she walked behind Jesus as he carried that cross. She didn’t plan for that life either and look where her life got all of us.

Shara Carter

Shara Carter

Hosea 2: 14-15