When we were young, the church pounded into us the idea that God had a plan for us. If the verse, Jeremiah 29:11, doesn't sound familiar to someone who grew up in the church, then you must have been sleeping. I remember that at the risk of being naive and the further, more likely, risk of fitting a cliche, I took that idea to heart. I believed with all my heart that God was in my life and guiding my steps, guiding me toward some place and time when I would be blessed and be a blessing to others. I made decisions not based on the idea of securing my future, making money, or becoming successful by the world's standards - instead I prayed and tried to discern God's voice and guidance, and this was behind most of my important decisions. I went to college and chose my degree based on what I thought it was that God wanted. I chose to go back to Minnesota after school because I thought it was the right thing.
Somewhere along the line I seem to have lost that feeling. At times I've felt like God was helping me out and guiding me to the right choices (joining the community at solomon's porch, traveling to africa, and marrying my wife, to name a few). But I lost the feeling, the conviction, that God had any sort of plan, just some idea of what was right and good, not really a desire for me to do a particular thing.
In some ways, I felt that this was good. I focused more on the kind of person i was supposed to be than on the constant worry about whether God really wants me to go out to denny's tonight, or if i was supposed to stay in, and wondering either way whether I might be missing something important that God wanted me to experience. It seemed freeing to me to devote my day-to-day life to God without having to ask what his will was every five minutes, and besides, I have had numerous good experiences (see above-mentioned list of notable experiences + many more good things).
But there is a sort of emptiness in my activities sometimes, and it comes out most when I face difficulty - my struggles seem more raw and bitter, and my self-recriminations feel pointless and hollow. I've looked back at my life more and more in the past several years, and there are things that I miss about when I was a youth and things that I scorn. There are things I wish I had done differently, attitudes I wish I had had sooner, chances I wish I had taken, but there are also choices I'm proud to have made, memories that make me smile, and lessons I cherish. Meanwhile, looking back on my struggles, I have begun to recall more and more that feeling, that conviction, that no matter how hard things were, no matter how lonely or disappointed or bitter I felt, God had a plan, and things happened in my life for a reason. That conviction was the foundation of my hope. It was the fuel for my tenacity, the driving force of all my passion. Today, when I struggle, that tenacity seems to have faded, that passion spent, and I begin to realize that it is because I do not know if God really has "a plan" for me.
I think of my own son, how I want what is best for him, and I want him to experience every good thing, and how I hate to hear him cry. I have no plan for his life. I have no particular destination in mind, other than that he lives out his God-given dreams and talents, But truly, if I knew what would please him most and provide him with the deepest satisfaction, I would do all in my power to guide him to it. And when he struggles in life, I can only pray that he can find in him the ability to hope, with the conviction that God has a plan. So I've started thinking I want that feeling back. I want that conviction back in my life. I have tried to tell myself, in times of disappointment, that there was a reason, that God could make a new way for me, but it felt bleak and cold inside.
I don't rightly know how to change my thoughts on this, but I am convinced that I must, for the sake of my own sanity and for my family's happiness.