“Well?” he said, waiting for an answer. “What are you going to do?”
We were sitting in his office – him, leaning back in his chair with his feet on his desk, me, in the swivel chair across from him with my feet tucked beneath me, spinning myself around and around and around as I tried to make a decision.
I had been planning the cross-country move for more than a decade. I attended university after high school like my parents wanted, even earning a “sensible degree” in economics – but my passion had always been horses. The deal was that if I graduated from university, my parents would support me in whatever I chose to do next, even if that meant moving 3000 miles away to study horses at the best school of its kind in the country.
Hours earlier I had received a letter from that school informing me that I had been wait listed. They allowed ten students into the English Horsemanship program and I was unlucky number eleven. I had flown across the country a month before to tour the school and perform a riding test. I made one mistake – picking up the wrong canter lead and not correcting it quickly enough – and I was done. “You’re welcome to try again next year!” the letter said.
What was I going to do?
“I’m going to go anyway!” I finally decided, surprising even myself with the boldness of the statement.
“Seriously?” he asked.
“Seriously.” I reached out to stop the spinning chair. “It’s now or never, right?”
“Well, if that’s what you want to do …” I could tell he wasn’t sure. I don’t have a history of courage, and the thought of me, moving across the country to a place where I didn’t know anybody, had no place to live, and had no job lined up must have seemed a little bit silly. But I was sure.
Three months later he dropped me off at the airport with a crushing hug and a promise to keep in touch, and I stepped onto a plane with two suitcases crammed full of my worldly possessions.
* * * *
I spent the summer working as a wrangler at a ranch for inner city kids, allowing me to combine my passion for horses with my passion for youth. Midway through the summer I received notice that I had been accepted into the English Horsemanship Program at my dream school, and everything else fell into place.
At first it was everything I dreamed it would be. I took classes on saddle fitting, tractor driving, and hoof trimming. I rode horses every day – for college credit! I loved every second. My dreams were coming true!
But somehow, something wasn’t quite right.
During the summer I used my horse knowledge – my passion – to reach kids. For whatever reason, even the toughest of the tough opened up at the corral – and I was able to tell them about Jesus. For the first time in a very long time horses weren’t a tool to achieve my own aspirations – they were a tool to reach hurting youth for Jesus.
But that wasn’t the dream. And I couldn’t change my dream – could I? What would people think? That I had given up? What would I do? Drop out of school? Where would I live? Where would I work? Would I have to move back home? What would people think?
I fought it at first, clutching tightly to what I had always worked for. I didn’t want to disappoint my friends, my family, or my coaches. I was afraid to stop my full-steam-ahead charge towards achieving what had always been my dream. For twenty-one years my life had been pointing towards one goal and one goal only. Changing direction seemed like a waste, especially since I had no idea what the future held.
But then I realized the truth: “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”(Proverbs16:9, NKJV). I had been dreaming and planning for my entire life, but had I allowed the Lord to direct my steps?
Psalm 37:4 says “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (ESV) The more we delight ourselves in God, the more aligned we will be with what He wants for us and our lives. Our desires become better aligned with His – and nothing else matters. Not what our friends think, or our families, or our coaches.
The bottom line: Dreams change, and so do we.
God doesn’t. He is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8, NIV). If we trust Him and allow Him to work in our hearts and our lives, He will pour on the blessings in astonishing ways. (2 Corinthians 9:8, MSG).
Readers, How have your dreams changed over the years? Have you seen God use your own plans to better reveal His own?
Holly Berg is a wife, mama, writer and horse nut who wrangles children by day and words by night. She writes to challenge, encourage and inspire others to see beauty in the everyday, minister in the mundane, and share their stories along the way. Read more of her writing at http://scattered-words.net.