“I was handed a diploma folder with nothing but a blank piece of paper inside.”
I had plans. Growing up I had plans for myself that would remove me from the situation that I was in. I had plans that would lead me to be thin, beautiful and successful. My plans would make people wish that they hadn’t treated me the way they did. My plans would make my parents proud to call me their daughter. My siblings would be excited to introduce me to their friends. All the people who made fun of me would eat their words with a side dish of jealousy and I would show em all.
That’s right. MY plans would make me into something. Something special that would wow them all!
Funny thing about plans, if God says “That’s not what I want for you” then it doesn’t matter how much ‘planning’ you’ve done, how many hours of preparation you’ve had or what goals you’ve set; it ain’t gonna happen. That’s what happened to my plans.
All my life I had been put down. The result is that my body and spirit were equally broken and bruised. I may have hid it to an extent but if anyone looked at me they would be able to see that I was hurting. How? Because by the time I was in the 6th grade I easily weighed 200 pounds. I was definitely ‘the fat kid.’ I had been made fun of relentlessly from the day I started school. I warded off questions like “Why are you so big? How come you get TWO milks with lunch? What’s wrong with you?” Then there were the names. Oh the names. All of which I could handle but the worst part of being the fat kid was the isolation. I tried to be friends with everyone, in every setting because I convinced myself that if I had a lot of friends then no one would get tired of having to put up with me hanging around. I would bounce from one click to another in fear that no one really wanted me with them. My parents didn’t want me. Why would anyone else?
It was hard to find where I fit in and eventually always felt like an outsider but my plans would change all of that. Every summer I would plan a diet because to wow them all when I went back to school in the fall would be awesome! Then I planned to go to college. I planned to go to law school. A THIN LAWYER! Whew! THAT would show em! I would win all the best cases, fight for the underdog, get my name in the paper, write a few books and retire young. Oh yeah, my plans were good.
Yet every fall I would return to school still as the fat kid. Depression, the death of my mom, the uncertainty of my dad, other losses and a tragedy or two were easy excuses to eat and that’s just what I did. They were also excuses to never do my best in school. I think people always assumed I did well in class because I was considered “one of the smart kids.” The truth was that I barely scraped by. I hid report cards, forged my dad’s signature like a pro and fell deeper and deeper into what felt like a bottomless pit. I got away with a lot back then. I knew people pitied me. Teachers would never push me, my dad had given up on me and truth was that I had given up on myself long before. So much so that I failed my senior English class. For those that I went to high school with who may be reading this and finding this out for the first time; you read that right. The night that we walked across that stage at Blakemore Field, even though they announced my name as a future attendee of the University of Arkansas with grants and scholarships, I was handed a diploma folder with nothing but a blank piece of paper inside. Now a couple weeks later I did enroll in a correspondence course, made a B and had my real diploma by the end of the summer but on the night I was supposed to have had it, I knew that MY plans were never going to facilitate. I was then not only the fat kid but I was the fat kid with no diploma and no future.
I had been saved at that point but had lost my guidance from the early days as a Christian with Ms Betty, Ms Barbara and the others at the little church where I had attended. No, I was on my own now and God may have been around but I was running from Him with everything that was in me. Even now, some twenty years later it’s hard to put into words just how lost I was. Not lost as in unsaved but lost as in no direction and so far from God that I couldn’t hear anything He had to say to me.
It’s taken all of this time since for me to let go of regret for what I had seen as my failures. The truth is that the thing I failed to do was listen to Christ. It doesn’t matter what plans we make for ourselves, they will never come to pass if they aren’t what He has in store for us. Jeremiah 29:11 “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 hope and a future.” (NIV) It’s still hard to let go of them though, it’s been hard to accept that because of health issues (that I never knew about ) my weight will never be that of a ‘normal’ person but the lessons that I have learned because of my weight are endless. The ability to talk to others about their struggle is irreplaceable and the acceptance of others who haven’t quite met their potential either is only because Ive been there. Through the grace of God everything I have learned in life is exactly what He needed me to know. It saddens me at times that it has taken my entire lifetime to figure that out.
Now as I type, I realize that none of MY plans have manifested but His have. MY plans never included an amazing husband and daughter. I surely never planned to live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet (the island of Oahu, Hawaii), I never planned to have an ocean view of His waters, I never planned to have an incredible home church where I could actively serve, I never planned to paint as a way to glorify God, I never planned to write on a website about all of my faults and flaws for the world to see. Certainly never planned to tell anyone I flunked senior English under a teacher whose name I can no longer even remember. These weren’t MY plans. These were His and you know, as I sit here typing, finding myself comfortable in my own skin, listening to the crickets outside, the calm breezes coming in off the water and feeling the peace of God around me I have to admit…I like His plans a LOT better than mine.
He has plans for you too. Are you ready to surrender to them? Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” (NIV)