Since the first time I left Northern Ireland in 2009, I have been scheming to find ways to return. At first, I planned a vacation in 2010, then after that I began applying to work for a Christian-based conflict and reconciliation center for peace. That opportunity, which I had really had my heart set on, quickly closed its door. Discouraged, I began to think about graduate school and started pursuing options to study in Northern Ireland again. The last time I was over in Northern Ireland, I met with a recruiter from a well-known university. Being a college recruiter myself, I wanted her to tell me how to make my dreams come true and move back to Northern Ireland. Much to my dismay, she told me exactly the opposite:
“With your interests and career goals, we just don’t have any degree programs to match that.”
I nodded my head in silence as I watched my dreams fly away. I asked the recruiter what she suggested. She told me to pursue a degree in the States that more closely match my career aspirations. “If you’re meant to return back to Northern Ireland, Kari, you will.”
Those words both stung and encouraged me. They sting because I think I know what I want, and I don’t want anyone to tell me about what I’m “meant to do”. They encourage because I am not in control and sometimes that’s a huge relief.
I’ve recently been struggling through the question: how do I look forward and plan without worshipping the future?
I’m really good at creating idols. Most recently, my idols come in the form of decision making, future plans, and the all-power “What’s next?” I feel like I’m currently in a season of life where my “what’s next” is totally up in the air. I still have the desire to move back to Northern Ireland one day, but I don’t know if that’s in the cards. I want to get my master’s degree, I’m just not sure when or where.
I’ve come to realize that I have a choice in whether to worship the future or worship God. It’s a matter of me continually learning to trust the Lord with my plans and realizing that the things that I think I want maybe aren’t as good as the things that He has for me. It’s a tough place for me to be in as I’m a planning and want to know what my future holds. However, it’s a beautiful thing when I am willing to submit to the Lord and allow him to sanctify me through the waiting.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, submit to him and he will make your path straight.”