December 16, 2010

The Master Plan

I had it all mapped out (and at the age of 10, no less).    

{ illustration by stuart lee }
  • Graduate with honors from high school.
  • Get into a good university and obtain a business degree.
  • Land a good job, climb up the corporate ladder, and eventually start my own ad agency.
  • Travel the world and enjoy all of life's pleasures.
  • If I get married, great, but I'm not counting on it.
I was determined to make my life a success story.

I got up to the part where I was able to get into a good university but soon realized I didn't really care much for business school.  I loved English and enjoyed Religion, but what was I going to do with that?  The practical side of me kept telling myself to chug along.  Stay on course.  Endure the finance, economic, marketing, accounting courses.  Stick to the plan.

So I did.  I graduated with a BBA in Marketing, landed a job with a design/build firm outside of D.C. to start and head up their marketing efforts.  The president and founder of the company not only hired me but took me under his wings and invested time and energy into molding me for leadership and management.   I soaked it all up, worked like crazy, and began laying the groundwork for achieving my success story - all before the age of 25.

Then the quarter-life crisis hit.  While I was sitting in my office at 10pm one evening in early 2001, a moment of epiphany occurred.

"What am I doing?  What's the point of all this?  I've sold my life to this company, and for what?  Will I be 50 and look back at my life and wonder where it all went?  What am I investing my time and energy in?  Am I wasting my life away?"

These thoughts echoed through my head for months as I continued to attend company functions, sit through meetings, work on marketing brochures, schmooze with potential clients.

And then one day, I said enough.

I knew in my heart of hearts this was not what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.  But I didn't really have much of a backup plan.  All I knew was that the master plan was not working out for me.

With great hesitation, I gave notice and quit my job.  And so the journey began.

But I found that I was more hopelessly lost than ever.  Everything I thought I wanted and had envisioned for my life since age 10 had been completely scrapped.  I was starting out on a blank sheet and didn't know what to fill it with.

I began with what I knew best.  Words.

Words, words, and more words.   I catalogued my journey online before the term "blogging" was ever coined.  When I read back on those entries, I can feel the weight of a confused and misdirected 20-something-year-old in search of herself.

Well, it wasn't enough for me to just quit my job.  I decided I needed a change of scenery as well.  So I packed up my things, said goodbye to my sister and brother (who I was living with at the time), all my friends in Virginia, and departed for the Big Apple where dreams come true (or so I was told).

I didn't know anyone.  I didn't have a job.  I searched online for an available space to rent in the NY area and found a small, little apartment in West New York.  I took on temp jobs as an admin by day.  By night, I was either checking out gigs and different musical artists or at home immersed in songwriting myself (yes, aspiring singer-songwriter is filed under the list of plans that didn't pan out for me as well).

And so began my new life as an anonymous nobody lost in the crowd of millions just hoping to make my days count for something.

After 9/11, I landed a job as an Executive Assistant to the CEO of a renown publishing company.  It paid the bills.  I also got plugged into a church and made an incredible group of friends.  One of whom became a close friend and eventually my husband.

James and I got married, and five years later, here we are with two absolutely beautiful sons, living out in the burbs, trying to make our days count for the glory of the King.

This was definitely not a part of my plan.

But God had better ones in store for me.  And I am keenly aware that He has better plans still for me and my family.  We just need to be open to them (that's the hard part).

When people hear my story, they say, "Wow, you were brave."

No.  I was foolish.  Even so, God demonstrated incredible mercy and grace in my life.  He intervened because although "He loved me just the way I was, He loved me too much to let me stay that way" (one of my favorite lines from the film, Junebug).

Now Mary.  She was brave.  She also had a plan.  She was going to marry a nice man, live a nice, quiet, innocuous life in a small, quaint town where everyone knew each other and life was going to be ordinary and simple.

But God had greater plans for her.  Plans to give her a child and save the world through him.  It could very well have cost her her man, her dreams, her reputation, even her very life (they did not take well to infidelity).   But instead, she trusted God and responded humbly with “I am the Lord’s servant.  May your word to me be fulfilled" (Luke 1:38)

Our executive pastor gave an excellent sermon about God's plan for Mary this past Sunday.  I encourage you to listen to it, and as we think about the new year, be open to the wonderful plans He has in store for our lives.


  1. And today's verse could not be more appropriate:

    "[Mary’s Song] And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name." (Luke 1:46-47, 49)

  2. I read your posting to my husband. He kept asking who did the prints? When I gave the two people at church (worship leader and Pastors) their prints, they wanted to know who did them. (They all absolutely loved them!)
    Then you wrote this post and it was a great opportunity to let my husband hear who you are in your own words.
    His comment: "Wow, she's really a good writer!" That's are! Now you heard it from another fan..


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