I Know the Plans

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The following is an excerpt from a letter:

Here goes.

A few months back, my Mom and I were in the Christian book store in town here. I was admiring a few wall hangings, and there was a particular one that stood out to me. Four simple words were written on it. In the moment, I’m sure I stood there marvelling at the simplicity of it, and admired the fact that it’s on an old and weathered looking piece of wood.

Now, on this wall hanging, summed up neatly into four words, is a verse that’s been following me for years. It followed me through high school, it followed me through university, it followed me here. And it followed me to the bookstore that day. This verse reminds me of all the tears I’ve ever had, and all the times I’ve wondered if God is really there and if He cares. All the times I’ve wept to an empty room about my loneliness. All the times I’ve felt so unloved I wondered if anyone would ever be able to love the mess that I am. All the times I wondered if I got it all wrong. All the times my failures seemed bigger than a mountain. All the times my pride and stubbornness stepped in the way. It’s been there in trial and triumph, though I will admit, finding this verse in the midst of trial, as made me loathe it once or twice.

Low and behold, this wallhanging wound up as my Christmas gift this year. It was a lovely gift, and as much as loved it, I couldn’t bring myself to hang it up. I left it by my little Christmas tree and told my parents I’d put it up when I decided where I wanted it to hang. At least, that’s what I said. The truth is, after what feels like a failed year of life in general, I couldn’t bring myself to hang it on a wall where I’d have to see it everyday and be reminded of words that I’d been struggling with, and wasn’t sure I believed in anymore. I was going to leave it where it was, until either I got tired of it sitting there, or one of my parents asked if I had found a spot for it yet.

I’ve spent the first few days of the New Year simply thinking and watching those around me celebrate a time of year that’s loved for it’s new beginnings. New beginnings?, I thought, I don’t even know where I’d begin. I can’t bring myself to look at facebook or Instagram these days. All those smiling faces… Do they not struggle like I do? Do they not feel unloved? Do they not feel like failures? I have a family that loves me and that I get along with, a quaint little house, and a great job, but yet I’ve never felt more at a standstill in my entire life. I don’t know if I should stay here, or if I should go. If I should push myself to meet more people and get involved more. The more I think about, the more I feel the need to plan and get upset with myself that I haven’t done the things that the world around me tells me I should’ve done by this age. And the more I obsess about not having done these things, the further I feel myself drifting from God. Those voices of doubt and fear start to whisper, and just like that, they’ve got a hold of me again. I was reading my Bible every day for a while, but stopped. I was going to church every week (when work allowed for it), but stopped. I was going to Bible study once a week (again, when work allowed for it), but stopped. Whether it was because ‘life got busy’, or my trying to distance myself from God, I’m not sure. I don’t have an excuse.

Praying for people became harder, though it’s one thing I felt like I kept clinging to. I prayed for you lots, ____, since your very first letter to me. I know this letter took courage to write and was a step in faith for you to send it, but I’m so glad you did. I wasn’t even half way through your letter when I began to cry, and I read it through again and cried some more. There’s been a hard shell around my heart for months, and I felt it break tonight. Instead of getting angry with God for not doing the things I thought He should do, I was able to thank Him for what He has done, and what He has yet to do. I feel like the stubborn little girl inside me as just noticed the nail pierced hands cupping her face with an aching tenderness that doesn’t need any words.

I am not alone. I am loved. And I am not forgotten.

And then I remembered my wall hanging, tucked back in a corner, and I wept all over again. The words don’t need to be any clearer. They don’t need to be written in gold, or in a fancy script for people to notice. They don’t need to be said with big words and fancy meanings. They don’t care how I look, what job I have, if I’m married or not. They don’t care if I failed yesterday, or if I failed today. They are a promise from God to people like me and you, and that’s all that matters.

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future” -Jeremiah 29:11

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