Faithfully Thinking: This Isn’t What I Pictured

This weekend I heard a sermon entitled “This Isn’t What I Pictured” and, boy, was it spot on for where I am in my life right now. I certainly did not picture my life where it currently is, which sounds entirely negative, but isn’t. There are definitely some negative places I’ve found myself, but there have also been some positive surprises along the way.

This sermon brought home for me that sometimes God wants to use us, bless us or grow us in a way we didn’t picture. The problem is not, as the pastor said this weekend, our situation, but that we pictured it differently and because our imagination of what life would be does not line up with what we see, we are stressed. Sometimes we must have faith in what we do not see, which, for me, is the hardest thing to do.

Maybe we thought we’d be a missionary to a faraway country, but instead, our mission field is at home, teaching our children. Maybe we thought God would use as to minister to recovering addicts, but instead, we are ministering to recovering perfectionists.

I know I didn’t picture being 42 and staying at home with my children, homeschooling, without a career to call my own, but it’s where I am and where I am trying to bloom (though I see myself as wilting). And, actually, I’m enjoying this one, even though I didn’t picture it.

I also didn’t picture being 42 with almost no close friends. I thought that I’d be comparing notes with a good friend about our now teenagers, but instead, I’m out on my own, so to speak. I’m not on my own really, of course, because God is still directing and guiding me even during what I see as unexpected turns in my life.

Even Christian often don’t see God in the negatives of life. I know I don’t and I was raised in the church. I rarely that what appears negative to me as something God is leading me through for a greater purpose. Honestly, there have been a couple of situations that were thrust on me that I felt, and still feel, were completely unnecessary.

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I still have trouble seeing why certain situations were allowed by God. The key for me has been realizing it’s not all about me. When I was asking God years ago “why did you let this happen to me,” I would sometimes hear in my heart “It’s not about you.” Even though it wasn’t “about me” it affected me, though, and I often wonder if the same outcomes could have been reached or lessons learned without all the unsolicited pain. 

Often we see pain, loss, or change as a punishment from God, instead of protection. Sometimes God takes away to protect us and sometimes that removal causes pain we did not ask for or expect.

God is always there whether we feel him or not. He’s there in the pain, the hurt, the life lessons.

The worship song, “Here Again” says: “Not for a minute was I forsaken. The Lord is in this place.”

When we feel like God is not in our situation, that’s where faith comes in.

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Do you know how hard it is for me to write that? I am at the worst at feeling like God is in a situation when the situation does not feel right or good to me.

The worship song “Waymaker” says: “Even when I don’t feel it you’re working. Even when I don’t see it, you’re working.”

Even when we don’t think God is in our situation, he is and he’s working and he’s changing things and he is for us. Even when we don’t see him, we can hear his voice. That’s a hard thing to trust in, isn’t it? The unseen.

Sometimes we can’t trust because we can’t hear him through all the noise in our lives – social media, other people’s opinions of us, or our own perceptions of what life was supposed to be at this point.

God is there for us even when our friends are no longer our friends.

God is there for us even when the texts or calls go unanswered.

God is there when we don’t get the job.

God is there when the bank account is dry.

God is there for us when those closest to us reject us, betray us, turn us away.

God is the same yesterday, today and forever and that is a picture that will never change, even when our lives are not what we pictured.


To see the sermon which inspired this post:

To hear the songs that I quoted here:


Lisa R. Howeler is a writer and photographer from the “boondocks” who writes a little bit about a lot of things on her blog Boondock Ramblings. She’s published a fiction novel ‘A Story to Tell’ on Kindle and also provides stock images for bloggers and others at Alamy.com and Lightstock.com.

10 comments

  1. I’m not really religious, but I almost cried because I struggle with the same thing every minute of every day. I keep thinking back to 13 year old me who had her whole life planned out. Nowhere were there children and a husband. And yet I find myself a stay at home mom almost 20 years later. It’s a struggle to remember who I was and what I wanted and then see my reality every day. Sometimes I feel bitter and regretful and angry, but there’s a quote I found about 6 years ago that says about the same thing as what you wrote here. There’s a master plan for each of us. Sometimes it aligns with what we want, but, often, it doesn’t. Learning to let go is hard, and I often find I just can’t, but I hope there is peace at the end, because this struggle is the hardest thing ever. Thank you for writing this. It’s so nice to know I’m not the only one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Like I said, there are some things that have happened differently that I’m glad about and others I wish had happened differently. It’s all about the ride of life, I guess. Struggling with it all a lot today so I guess I’ll need to reread my own post and try to perk up some.

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  2. This sounds like an amazing sermon! I have it saved so I can listen to it while I’m cleaning later. It sounds like something I really need at this moment in my life. I swear we are twins – same age, homeschool, no close friends. We need to live closer to each other! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yah. I totally get this. Although I always had it in the back of my mind that some day I would have to give up my perfect life in L.A., and move to Arkansas to take care of my elderly mother, I absolutely did NOT see that I would be helping her with bathroom-related stuff and wiping up countless spilled beverages.

    I thought I would move here and it would be like when my Grandma lived with us. I thought she’d ride along in the car on errands and we’d go out to eat and to the bookstore and sightseeing and have all kinds of nice adventures.

    Instead she refuses to get dressed and leave the house. She sleeps the majority of the day and only gets out of her chair to go to the bathroom or to bed at night.

    I totally have to keep reminding myself this is not about me, it’s what this woman at the end of her life needs.

    It sucks and it sucks hard, but I get that I’m supposed to be learning something and growing as a person and all that. Unfortunately, that is not going to happen until long after the fact. Right now I’m still too mad about it. LOL

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    1. That has to be really hard but you are doing something amazing for the woman who raised you. That’s a huge respect to her and a huge kudos to you for making those sacrifices. But, yeah, we aren’t always warned about these things and how different our life will be when we are younger, are we? So many things I wish I was told but our parents probably didn’t want to freak us out!

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      1. Exactly. I thought it would be like when my Grandma moved in with us and my Mom took care of her. Nope. Grandma could go out and about up until her last stroke when she was 86. Mom has some emotional block going on that will not allow her to leave the safety of her livingroom. Never saw that coming.

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