Breaking Up With the Timeline
About three years ago, I stood at the altar, pink bridesmaid dress, curled hair and bouquet of pink and white roses. My friend since high school stood next to me, same dress, shiny wedding ring on her left hand. We were there to celebrate one of our closest friends as she stood across from her groom, making a promise to stay by his side. Right there, in the middle of the most significant moments of her life, a thought dropped into my mind making my heart race: "Your two best friends are married. You should at least be engaged by now."
We all have an idea of how our lives will turn out. I remember dreaming about it with the same friends that were standing at the altar next to me that day. I felt a strong desire to reach life's milestones around the same time they did. As time passed, I started to realize this wasn't going to happen. The sting of disappointment worsened with the feeling that I had failed in some way.
Disappointment turned to pressure. I felt anxious when I saw other people getting engaged or entering into relationships. I felt my heart sink into my chest when I saw baby announcements. Instead of celebrating friends getting married and bringing new life into the world, I became worried about being behind schedule. I started to be mad at God too. I had trusted Him, why was He keeping things from me?
There came a point when I needed to break up with the timeline. At first, I thought it was keeping me on track. I thought it was helping me pursue the happy life I wanted. Although there were certain things in my control, like being social and open to meet guys and go on dates, ultimately I couldn't control when I would meet the right person. The timeline I was holding over my head wasn't helping me; it was stealing from me. I had to stop waiting around like my life wasn't going to start until I met someone, and start living. I wanted my life to be rich and full, not just during my married years, but for all my single years as well.
"I had to stop waiting around like my life wasn't going to start until I met someone, and start living."
It's hard to find words to describe the rest I felt when I finally broke up with the timeline. I realized my goals to reach certain points by certain times were burdens that my heavenly Father never asked me to carry. I prayed what felt like a risky, but necessary prayer: "God, you're a good God. I believe You will fulfill every desire You've placed in my heart. If that's tomorrow or ten years from now, that's okay with me. I'm not letting my life be ruled by a timeline. I'm not going to compare my story to anyone else's. I'm not going to miss out on this season of my life because I'm so anxious about when the next one's going to start." I felt the pressure lift off and my soul quiet for the first time in a while.
I now find peace in the truth that I have my own story unfolding, and it isn't going to look like anyone else's. Even though things didn't work out like I thought they would, God is trustworthy. He tells us in Psalm 84:11 that He will not withhold any good thing from us, and I stand on that promise. I am learning to rest in the heartbeat of the good Shepherd. He leads me beside quiet waters and makes me lie down in green pastures. He restores my very soul. He doesn't put weight on me but takes my weight upon His shoulders (Psalm 23:1-2, Matthew 11:28-30).
When I feel my anxiety start to rise or like I'm falling three steps behind, I take a moment to picture His face. He's not worried, and He's not in a rush. He's not concerned that I won't make it to my destination on time, but has peace for me at all times. I breath in deep knowing my trust in Him is secure and he holds my dreams in His capable hands.
-Andrea Alley, Intern
For more on this topic, check out some of our other blogposts: