Letting go of our plans to embrace change or the life we’ve been given requires a daily laying down of our lives, but it’s a path that leads to a deeper dependence on God and the full life He has to offer us.MaryBeth Eiler
“Where do you see yourself in five years?”
The question caused me to hesitate. A few years ago, I could easily conjure up an answer—one that stemmed from a five-year plan that held all the things I felt I should be doing alongside dreams and aspirations. A realistic, achievable plan that offered my life a sense of purpose and direction—or, more accurately, a sense of control. My answer today looks quite different.
Change necessitated by circumstances
I used to view my five-year plan as a roadmap through which I could take on the world—a safety net of sorts. Of course, it wasn’t a specific play-by-play of how my life would unfold, but it did lend direction, something to fall back on when uncertainty crept into my life. At least, that is what I anticipated to be true until my life turned upside down unexpectedly. Diagnosed with a rare, aggressive tumor in my mid-twenties, I was caught off guard. A health challenge was not part of my well-crafted plans. As I grappled with the diagnosis, it became clear I wasn’t prepared.
Sometimes, we walk willingly toward change. Other times, change is necessitated by circumstances outside of our control. As change was thrust upon me with my newfound diagnosis, I fought it every step of the way. I desperately tried to hold onto the life I once knew by convincing myself that maintaining my former life meant all would be well.
Holding fast to my goals, dreams, and desires, I resisted change. Within a few months, I found myself not only depleted but filled with discouragement upon realizing I wasn’t doing much well by clinging to this attitude. Something had to give. Pretending life was normal when it was anything but wasn’t cutting it. I painfully accepted that I had limitations to contend with. My reality required me to let go of the life I had planned and embrace what I had been given. In the process of letting go, I held both grief and gratitude. I grieved the inability to do what I loved, while simultaneously holding gratitude for all I could still do. In letting go and embracing the life I had been given, I found beauty in the present moment. As my striving began to cease, I gained the capacity to see all the incredible ways God was at work—even amid unwanted circumstances. Letting go of long-held expectations and plans was slow and painful requiring newfound grace for my limitations. Over time, I came to realize that there was beauty to behold in the ordinary and the mundane. There was joy to be found when my striving ceased. Life was found in letting go of my plans and embracing what was right in front of me.
Holding plans loosely
Holding my plans loosely created an opportunity for me to see God at work in the smallest details of my life—in the places I had never thought to look before. Such as when fatigue set in related to my rigorous medication routine, no longer needing medication to help with pain management, a full night’s sleep in a comforable bed when sleep was near impossible to come by. A book on hold at the library ready for pickup the day before chemotherapy to keep me occupied.
As my dependence on God grew through the struggle and lack of control, it became apparent that God hadn’t left my side. His presence grew increasingly more recognizable.
Letting go of our plans to embrace change in the life we’ve been given requires a daily laying down of our lives, but its a path that leads to a deeper dependence on God and the full life He has to offer us.
The truth is, I’m not sure where I see myself in five years, but my hope is that wherever life takes me, I continue to rely more on God’s guidance and direction than my own. While I continue to battle against the need for control, I’m learning and relearning that there is more freedom found in letting go and letting God. While my plans convince me that I have some semblance of control over my life, I’ve found God’s plans always pan out better. I’m learning to hold my plans loosely, to bring the desires of my heart to God, and to ask for His guidance and direction. To embrace change. Doing so has allowed me to pay better attention to those hard-to-ignore nudges. Having the future we envisioned upended is hard, but if it’s taught me anything, it’s that resisting change only makes our circumstances harder. Leaning into God as we let go of what we thought our life would look like and embrace the one we’ve been given is how we experience more freedom. May we continue to practise letting go to embrace what is right in front of us.
MaryBeth is a writer who encourages people to hold on to hope as they encounter unexpected challenges in life. As a rare disease warrior, MaryBeth has found God’s provision in her weakest moments and with it the grace she needs to endure. MaryBeth shares encouragement on Instagram @marybetheiler and at www.marybetheiler.com.
‘Letting go to embrace change’ is just one of the articles found in the change issue. Buy your copy here today for more articles, creative prompts, book introductions and beautiful photography.