When Life Doesn’t Fit Your Plan

I stood in line waiting for my zone to be called so I could make my way onto the plane. The gate area was crowded, filled with people jostling, doing that nudge, step, nudge, I’m-not- really-trying-to-move-in-front-of-you-but-yes-I-really-am  kind of dance.

Still feeling the effects of full days and late nights from the conference I’d just left, I looked forward to going home. I was tired, a good tired, but I could feel my body’s silent alarm blinking the way my phone does when it hasn’t been charged in awhile… this girl’s battery had just about 10% juice left.

The line slowly moved forward single file, inching its way towards the spot where one gate attendant stood, scanning boarding passes, and where I noticed a woman step out of line. She was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, her hair in a touseled pony tail and in one hand she held a big purse, more like a large tote that was filled to overflowing, and in the other a carry-on piece of luggage with wheels. In front of her stood a short little blonde-haired girl, probably no more than two.

The woman walked a few steps away from the line with a loud sigh. Offering a half-hearted yank, she jerked the carryon up and attempted to set it inside the metal box sitting at her feet, which displayed a sign that read “does your bag fit?”

The bag perched on top of the metal box, like an oversized lid. Clearly, it did not.

I couldn’t see the gate attendant through the crowd of people but I could see the woman, and in one frustrated motion she pulled her luggage back to her side and sank straight down on the ground beside it, as her little girl looked at her with a confused expression on her face.

I could not see that dear lady’s face in that moment, but I could feel that mom’s exhaustion and “I give up” attitude from where I stood. I could feel her helplessness and hopelessness in those few tense seconds because I’ve also been in those “can anything else go wrong?” moments too. Haven’t you?

Really. Can anything else go wrong?

You plan on your luggage fitting the required space, but then someone tells you it doesn’t and it’s the final “no” in a long day of “no’s” that is just the no that wrecks you.

You dream of how your child will blossom and succeed in school and instead she struggles and limps her way through and you find yourself limping too.

You love and rely on your husband and never expect he will disappoint and hurt you in a way you never saw coming – until it happens and you’re wondering where your plan went wrong.

You have the job you’ve always wanted until corporate layoffs happen, and suddenly you don’t.

You have the life you’ve always wanted, a stay-at-home mama who loves volunteering at your kid’s school and your church, until your husband gets severely ill with a chronic disease and suddenly you’re working a job you don’t particularly like and serving as a caregiver about 30 years sooner than you were expecting.

Here’s what I’m learning, though, about the things that seem to go sideways and happen beyond our control. Our circumstances may not fit our plans, but God’s plan always includes our circumstances.

Romans 8:28 offers this reminder:

“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.”

Notice this verse doesn’t say that we know all GOOD things work together… no, it says ALL things work together – even the moments we wish never were.

Because let’s be honest, sweet friends, most of us like to be in control. And if we’re in control, why would we choose the difficult over the easy? Who wants the hurtful if we can have the happy? Who wants cauliflower when we can have chocolate?

Here’s what I do know.

When we let go of trying to control everything, we are much more willing to hold on to God – sometimes for dear life! And that’s exactly where He wants us.

5 Reasons to Stop Trying To Control Everything

  • He doesn’t want us on our own – He wants us for His own. Because when we commit our lives to Christ, our lives are no longer about us. It’s all about Him. (Galatians 2:19-20)
  • We can trust Him when He takes us down roads we do not recognize. (Proverbs 3:5)
  • We can trust Him even in the midst of things going wrong. (Psalm 91:1-16)
  • We can trust that He is in the details of our lives – from the mundane of getting a grocery list together to the hyper importance of changing jobs or moving from Point A to Point B. (Jeremiah 17:7-8)
  • We can trust God when we take a breath, reset, and choose to take that next step – by listening to His voice instead of our own. (Romans 15:13)


Yes, it’s true our circumstances may not always fit our plans – but we can know God’s plan always includes our circumstances. Let’s focus less on controlling what we can’t, and be more intentional in following where He leads.

Your Turn: Where do you struggle with controlling something yourself, or letting God take control? Share your thoughts in the comments. 




  1. Sherry Scott on Friday, September 26, 2014 at 8:50 am

    Thank you Sara!!! I needed that!!!

  2. KJ on Friday, September 26, 2014 at 11:47 am

    My plan didn’t include an alcoholic husband … I’ve been praying for God’s plan with this for a long time.

    • Sara on Friday, September 26, 2014 at 4:38 pm

      KJ, I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. I have a friend who is in the same situation and I know it is not an easy road you’re walking. I hope you have friends who are praying with you and supporting you.

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