Have you ever uttered the words, “This is not how I planned it.”? Most of us have. In fact, life rarely works out how we had planned. A high school student dreams of getting the lead in the school play but someone else is chosen. Maybe an x-ray finds something that was completely unexpected. Or you interview for a new position that is perfect for you but someone else gets the job.
Americans love sports, but if you think about it, only one champion won the final game. Everyone else’s year ended in a way that’s different from what they’d imagined, dreamed, and worked toward. “It’s not how I planned it” happens to us constantly in life. The question is, what do we do when it happens?
I remember watching a CBS This Morning interview several years ago with Adrianne Haslet. I didn’t know who she was or about her story until that morning, and wow: I gained wisdom from her that morning I want to share with you.
Adrianne was a spectator at the Boston Marathon in April 2013 when unexpectedly, a bomb went off near where she was standing. The shrapnel from the bomb damaged her left leg, requiring an amputation below the knee. It wasn’t how she had planned her life. She went through a lengthy rehabilitation process; and, while she wasn’t a runner, three years later she ran in the 2016 Boston Marathon.
Then, outside of her apartment, she was injured in a “hit and run” accident, again on the left side of her body, which has required her to go through another lengthy rehabilitation process. Again, it wasn’t part of her plans for life.
She said two things in the interview that morning which can serve as lessons for all of us:
1.) Although she was physically and emotionally hurt and her life was turned upside down, her response was to say, “I have chosen not to be a victim.”
2.) Then, she followed up with what might be a more important lesson, saying, “I am not defined by what happened in my life, I am defined by how I live my life.”
We always have a choice when things don’t go as planned: You can be a victim, allowing the circumstances to define you and control you. Or, you can do as Adrianne has done and choose to be defined by what you do next, how you respond to that disappointment and how you live your life going forward.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8).
We need to remember that God is in control. He is sovereign over our world.
I know that I need to accept that what I have planned might not be part of God’s plan for me. In fact, what I had planned may not be good for me. I also know that when things don’t go as I had hoped, God will use it for my good and for the benefit of others.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
When something doesn’t go according to your plan, remember you have a choice to make. I encourage you to accept it, learn from it, and keep moving forward.