When plans change

Plans can change, right? We all know this. And yet, when the idea crosses our minds that maybe, just maybe, God is changing the direction in which we are headed, we’re gripped with panic. “What do you mean, God? I thought we were going this way!”

As Christians, we realize that God is more interested in the journey than the end goal, but when the trip suddenly starts down the scenic route, we’re left thinking to ourselves, “Great, what next? I had my life figured out, and now…” And yet, oughtn’t we to remember that we’re not supposed to have our lives figured out? In his letter, the apostle James says:

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.'” James 4:13-15

For me, this struggle of trying to discern what exactly God has in mind with the apparent curveball, and subsequently bending to His Will, is right now.

When I returned from Boise after my first semester, I was on the top of the mountain, and eager to start my life as an apprentice midwife. I had high hopes, and big dreams. Some worries would nag me, but mostly, I was in awe of the journey God was taking me on. While I would have said then that I knew exactly how God was going to lead me, I knew He would, and it would turn out great.

When plans change

Fast forward to today, a year and a half since I started college. It’s not for a lack of trying, trust me. One way or another, all the midwives I have contacted have not worked out. The ones I’ve partnered with have not been the fit I was hoping for, and vice versa. And my options? Well, they’re dwindling.

My schoolwork and head knowledge have continued expanding with no clinical outlet and I have had to have some hard conversations with teachers and family lately. Because I am lacking in clinical hour credits, I am not meeting the credit requirements for my schooling. Among other frustrations, this means that I am falling behind my classmates. As it looks right now, I will be unable to attend my fourth semester intensive, and will end up taking time off of school for at least one semester.

Of course, when the reality of all of this hit me full force, I immediately said, “Ah, God is working something new here! I can’t wait to see what it looks like!” Right?

Wrong!

My first thoughts were not aimed at glorifying God and His ever majestic and beautiful ways, but ran more along the line of, “God, why are You doing this to me? I haven’t done anything wrong, I’ve followed Your path! Why aren’t You delivering?” I mean, if anyone deserved to see God’s fruition in this great plan, it was me, right? I have been waiting for a year and a half now!

After I had pulled myself out of my toddler fit long enough to take a deep breath, I began to realize something important though. God does not work on our schedules, nor on our expectations.

Take Abraham for example. God promised him a lineage so vast that his descendants would be as many as the stars. The Bible says that Abraham believed and this was credited to him as righteousness, but then the waiting began— 25 years of it. What was going though Abraham’s mind during this incredibly long time? Something tells me he wasn’t always sure what God was doing.

Finally, two and a half decades after this promise is made, Sarah, Abraham’s wife, conceives and gives birth to their son, Isaac. After this, they have no more children. When Isaac was born, the joy in their tent must have been tangible, and yet, neither of them could have expected that the promised gigantic family tree would come about this way – through one baby!

There are too many other stories in the Bible with this exact same theme in mind; that God keeps the good of His people in mind, but that more often than not, it doesn’t look anything like what was originally envisioned.

So what does God have in mind in this upcoming semester? It is still possible that He has an answer that will put me back on track as an apprentice midwife. Or… He could have something else entirely.  Am I to use my skills as a doula for the next few months with a local non-profit? Am I to devote my free time to helping the farm get further on its feet this year? I have been approached about writing a sex education course before, is now the time to pursue this? Maybe this break is not really for me, but for someone else who needs someone to invest in their life during a difficult time.

The beautiful thing is that, while I still feel a little clueless, I know that God has my best at heart, and the best of others as well. So whatever the reason, I trust that He will make Himself and His Will known, and I will do my best to step out and follow Him. I may still have tantrums now and then as plans seem to shift, but hey,  just like Abraham… I’ll get there.

7 thoughts on “When plans change

  1. Hi, you don’t know me, but I’m a friend of your mom’s. I have 26 years of experience in birth. I started out as a lactation consultant, became a doula, apprenticed for 3 years with a very good midwife, and then pursued my nursing degree with the intention of getting my CNM. I’ve happily settled as a labor and delivery nurse now, but if I’d been younger and hadn’t had children I likely would have gone on fur my CNM.

    All of that to say that I’m curious if you could transfer into a nursing degree instead? There are clearer pathways to becoming a CNM than a non-nurse midwife, more job opportunities for CNMs, and the potential for a life that doesn’t require you to be on call all of the time.

    I was once apprenticed by a very well-regarded midwife. I think the training I received from her was the best I could have gotten. But after three years living as a midwife, and spending a lot of time with midwives, I decided that the life of a midwife wasn’t the most conducive to a happy home life that included a husband and children.

    Many–most–of the midwives I knew while apprenticing were divorced. Having one partner constantly on-call is difficult on any marriage, but having one partner on call who could be called away literally for DAYS at a time is quadrupled in difficulty, especially if the other partner has a job too.

    Doctors often end up divorced for this same reason, but it’s even harder to get coverage when you’re a licensed midwife. The sheer unrelenting demands of being a private practice midwife is a tremendous challenge that I cannot overstate enough.

    It’s nearly impossible to take any sort of vacation while maintaining a successful midwifery practice. You need to find competent coverage while you’re gone, and while you’re gone you won’t be available to meet the new clients you’ll need for your business 6-8 months in the future. Also, the person covering you must be paid her fees, so you’re out that income, and there’s a real risk that your covering midwife could end up taking future business from you if your clients bond with her over you. It also hurts your reputation in your community if it gets around you aren’t available 24/7.

    Once you have children of your own, if that’s your plan, this situation does not improve, especially if you end up a single parent. Live-in help is essential to reducing your stress about who will pick the kids up from their activities and who will reliably get groceries and fix dinner.

    My father-in-law lived with us during my apprenticeship and I couldn’t have done it without him. I’d get called in the middle of the night and sometimes be away for 2 days. I needed someone stable at home and I’m so grateful he was there. But if he hadn’t been there I would have needed someone since my husband also worked.

    Anyway, I started this as a comment, not a treatise. There are other paths to your goal that may be more difficult at the outset, but could end up making your life more tolerable in the long run that I strongly encourage you to consider.

    Good luck on whatever you choose.

    • Midwifery, maternity care in general does seem to be a very harsh world at times. It’s one of the reasons I don’t want to be a midwife after I have my own family. I’m not willing to trade them for my career. Right now, I am definitely praying about what God wants me to do next, and keeping my options open – while it can be difficult – is one thing I have learned to be important. Thank you for the encouragement! <3

  2. “And yet, oughtn’t we to remember that we’re not supposed to have our lives figured out?…
    …God does not work on our schedules, nor on our expectations.”
    Thanks for the timely reminder dear friend!
    This is exactly how I feel right now in regards to health.
    It was pointed out to me last night ( while I was in tantrum land) how much better it is to trustingly seek refuge in the fortress that is our God; instead of standing outside the gate arguing with Him about why I should have to open the door in the first place.
    His ways and thoughts are higher than mine.
    He’s building trust.

    • That is a really good way of putting it! Whoever told you that was very wise. :-) So often it seems, it’s not about getting there, but rather, what lesson we can learn from the getting there. Stay strong, sweet friend. God has you.

  3. Mary Hannah, thank you for sharing this. It was an encouragement to me. I wish I could say I have long since outgrown those types of mental struggles, but I haven’t. Still there right now, actually. God’s ways are always best, but sometimes it is hard to trust. Thank you for the reminder that He will never leave us.

    • His plans ARE always the best, but you’re right, it can be so hard to trust that! It’s encouraging to know that I am not alone. :-)

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