When I was in college, I asked my dad for some dating advice. Specifically, I was curious about how I would know I’ve found “the one.” I’ve learned over the years that when my dad doesn’t feel comfortable answering a question, he gives me the old runaround. “Nik, I don’t know. I don’t have all the answers.” He tried this, but I persisted. How do you know?
After enough pestering, he finally answered, and as expected, he did not disappoint:
“Nik, don’t worry about finding ‘the one.’ Just get on your path and stay on it because you can’t live someone else’s life anyway. You can’t get on someone else’s path, and they can’t get on yours. But sooner or later, as you’re walking your own path, you’ll find that someone else’s path runs alongside yours, and maybe you’ll decide to walk it together. That’s how you’ll know.”
At the time, this advice was hard to swallow (as is often the case with great advice) because it forced me to accept an ugly truth: I had been trying to walk my boyfriend’s path. This was a path on which I clearly didn’t belong, and my dad’s advice explained why, despite my best efforts, the relationship just wasn’t working. That was 10 years ago … I’d love to say I immediately (or eventually) moved on from that behavior, but over the years I’ve repeated this mistake with every single man I’ve ever dated, including the man I married. Following my divorce last year, I came to realize I still hadn’t found, much less walked, my own path—a sobering reality.
I felt as if the writing was on the wall. I was going to have to learn to walk my own path or else risk repeating this mistake for the rest of my life.
Most people seem to find their path without much effort, but for me, “my path” has always seemed more like the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot than a reality. I have a sneaking suspicion I’m not the only one who feels that way. Am I really alone in this? Am I really the only person who feels pulled toward something, but that “something” is forever a mystery? I mean, can I get an AMEN on that one?! (A heartfelt “thank you” to those of you who just indulged me there.) This has been driving me crazy for as long as I can remember. “What do you want to be when you grow up, Nikki?” Ugh, please! Who has the answers at 5, 15, 25 or even 35 for that matter?
Do you know what I’ve found really comforting lately? God has the answers. God has a plan.
He has sent me this message over and over and over again in the form of Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (ESV). Initially, this verse frustrated me. Yes God, I know you have a plan. That’s fantastic, but could you please clue me in on the details? I spent a lot of time moping around, waiting for His plan to be revealed, but again and again the only thing revealed was Jeremiah 29:11.
In retrospect, I was totally missing the point. God was never going to hand me a detailed outline of my path in life and let me take it from there. God insists that I remain on a need-to-know basis because he wants me to trust Him and lean on Him. So far, my path (my destiny, my purpose) has been anything but a single direction; it’s a journey, and sometimes a really scary one. There are moments when I feel lost in the woods of my life, as if I’m at risk of walking in circles forever. But I’ve been through enough of those moments now to see a trend emerging. Proverbs 3:5-6 says it best: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will direct your paths” (NKJV). If I keep my focus on God, I end up where I need to be.
In those moments when you feel like a stranger in your own life, dwell on God. He knows who you are, He has a plan, and He will help you navigate this life—through this season of singleness, through your journey to self-discovery, and through all the growing pains and life lessons that come with it.
And sooner or later, someone else’s path will run alongside your own, and you’ll decide to walk—and seek God—together. God has a plan.