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Finding Passion and Contentment: When God's Plans Become Our Plans

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Four years ago, one small whisper changed the rest of my life.

After graduating high school, I fully intended on molding and inspiring young minds, just as my teachers inspired me. I remember specifically playing out the next 10 years of my life over and over in my head: graduate college, find a teaching position, get married, have children. I am a perfectionist and over-planner to my very core. Naturally, as soon as this plan, my plan, was in place I felt at peace knowing exactly where my life was headed.

I began to feel discontentment stir in my heart after my second semester at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. My desire to teach, the one I had carried for years, slowly faded away. I was exhausted from my first year of college and took the following summer to wind down. The idea of having a plan more than the actual plan itself is what held me together, until one night God took back the reins.

Letting Go

I had spent the day catching up with two friends and was caught off guard by their passion and contentment. Their confidence and pure joy in where God had brought them was daunting. Had I ever stopped to ask God what He wanted for me? Was I so focused on what I thought was best that I ignored all He was calling me to? I remember lying in my bed reflecting for what felt like hours before finally praying a bold prayer: God, am I doing the right thing by pursuing teaching? Why do I feel so unsatisfied?

Suddenly, God spoke into my heart in a way I had never experienced. I saw a vision of a tree turned upside down with its roots reaching to the sky. A hushed voice whispered, “Your world is about to be turned upside down.”

I felt as if someone had taken all the air out of the room and I was left breathless. Was that something my mind had subconsciously created? Who did that voice belong to?

I felt nothing but fear in the following weeks. The unknown nature of those nine words haunted me until the very day I packed my bags and went back to college for year two.

I had felt that familiar sense of uneasiness as I moved back into my dorm. I had sought God throughout the summer and asked constantly for an answer, but decided to stay the course when I felt nothing in response. Three weeks into my third semester, I dropped out and moved back home. My biggest fear had become a reality.

I felt like I had let everyone (including myself) down and was at my lowest point.

When I remember all the pieces coming together to leave school, I can see how God clearly pulled me away from my plan. I had felt out of place, where I once felt at home. Things that once brought me comfort now brought me an inexplicable dread. However, I know without each and every one of the events that occurred, I wouldn’t have been brought to the place I am in right now.

God's Plans Became My Plans

One year later, I was content (for the time being) at my job as a bank teller. I was still at a complete loss as to what God was calling me to until I had one fateful conversation with my husband.

My husband (boyfriend at the time) and I had been talking about what our future holds and where we see ourselves five years down the road. I was at a loss for words, yet again. He had all these different dreams and plans as I once had, but now I found myself longing so desperately to find my niche in the world. Then our conversation came to a staggering halt when he said, “Ariel, pursue photography.”