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Episode 119 - When Life Doesn't Go As Planned


Life doesn’t always go like we planned, does it? At least, not like we think it should. It’s funny, I look back at my young, dreamer self and wonder why I made so many plans for my future. Mapped them out according to the stages of my life. As if I was so sure everything would just fall into place exactly as I planned. Exactly as I envisioned. A fairytale. But we find out that life is not like that, is it? I talk to so many women as a Life Coach that are struggling with the same thing. Things just aren’t turning out the way they had envisioned or expected them to.

Last week I returned from a 2-week trip to Japan to meet my precious new granddaughter, Lily Noel Zody. She was born on January 5th and was a healthy 9 pounds 3.2 ounces. I met her when she was 13 days old, and it was the longest 13 days of my life. The waiting was excruciating. Honestly, I never thought I’d ever have to wait that long to meet any of my grandchildren. In fact, I had always had an idea of what it might look like when my kids had babies. I’d be there. At the hospital. In the room…if they’d let me. Lol Okay, that wasn’t something I really envisioned, but promise you, if they’d let me, I sure would. I’ve been at the beside of both of my parents when they took their last breath. It was sacred ground. And the birth of a baby is also sacred ground. And I wouldn’t miss it for the world if they’d let me.

But, back to my Japan trip. My youngest and his wife are missionaries there. They got to Japan just two weeks before the world shut down with covid. So, it had been about a month shy of three years since I’d seen them in the flesh. Three years! And of course, the borders were shut down until just recently, so no one was going in. And when they thought they’d come home for a short furlough, they found out they were pregnant, so they stayed to have the baby there. So, it’s been three years. And, believe me, as I was raising my kids, this Momma never never envisioned a scenario where I would not be able to see or get to one of my kids. But that’s the life of a POM – Parent of a Missionary. And just as I was raising them to be productive citizens and independent people, I was also raising them to live their lives for the Lord - wherever that took them. Even if it was across the world. And now they have a baby.

And, having to wait to see my granddaughter has not been what I envisioned. Yes, I created a story around what it’s “supposed” to look like based on what I wanted it to look like. And again, things just don’t usually turn out like you envisioned. And it’s easy to get disappointed. Really disappointed. And easy to feel sorry for yourself.

I’m part of a Facebook group for Parents of Missionaries – POMs. I hear the same stories all the time. The human heart that is broken and longing to be with their children and grandchildren. All the while knowing that those kids are exactly where they’re supposed to be, doing exactly what God wants them to do.

But, sometimes we still ask, “Why God? Why does life have to feel so hard sometimes? Why must I feel such suffering? Why can’t I have what I want? Like having all of my children living within a few miles of me raising their own children? Why don’t I get to be a grandmother that’s physically involved in their grandchildren’s lives? Go to their birthday parties, and first dance recital, or soccer game? Why don’t I get to pick them up on a random day just to treat them to ice cream or a movie. Or a sleepover? Grandma camp. That’s what all the other grandmas get to do. Why not me? Why does this feel so much like suffering?”

For me, the answer came from the Lord as words that were vaguely familiar. Words I’d heard my youngest say after moving to Japan. “Mom, we’re sacrificing a lot to be here. We don’t get to spend traditional holidays with our families. We’re missing birthdays and other celebrations. We have been placed in a foreign land where we know no one, and many of the missionaries we knew from our sending organization live far away from us. And we have to figure out how to make a new life here where everything is different and unfamiliar. But we gladly sacrifice all of this for the sake of the gospel. Because the people of Japan are lost and desperately in need of knowing their Savior. That’s why we’re here, pouring our lives out for the gospel.”

The words from the Lord were must more succinct: “Tricia, being a POM is giving up your loved ones for the lost ones.” This was my sacrifice for the sake of the gospel, too; to joyfully celebrate my son’s and daughter in love’s calling to a lost and dying nation across the world; to support their every endeavor there; to be their biggest cheerleader and encourager. I honestly never prayed that God would change their minds and bring them home. Even after they told me they plan on being there for the rest of their lives. That is, until my granddaughter was born. My heart aches at the thought. But I know that the most important thing is not how much I get to be involved in my children’s and grandchildren’s lives. The most important thing are the lives they are called to reach for Jesus.

Now listen, this takes some serious spiritual and mental work on my part. Because just because I know what the most important thing is, doesn’t mean my heart doesn’t grieve the fact that I’m not in their daily lives; that I’m not living the life I had envisioned. Yes, I know I am so blessed to have something like Facetime to connect with my grandchildren overseas. I hear this from people all the time. My thought is, “It’s not good enough. It’s not like having a real person in the room with you. You can’t kiss their little cheeks or catch them when they run to you, giving them a big, squishy grandma hug. And, how will they even know me? This is definitely not going the way I want or planned. And I certainly didn’t ever think I would be having this experience without my spouse by my side. Help!”

So, what do we do when things in life just aren’t panning out the way we expected they would? So much disappointment, and confusion, and ,perhaps, longings unfulfilled. Maybe your marriage isn’t looking like you thought it would. Or maybe it’s your career. Or your passion or purpose. Maybe the fairytale life your young dreamer self created is nowhere to be found. Your life looks nothing like you thought it would. What now?

Listen, I can’t change the fact that I am 14+ hours from my kids, but thinking all those things about how having this long-distance relationship with my grandchildren is “less than” does not serve me. Or that not having and grandmother and grandfather to be in her life is somehow “less than.” These thoughts don’t help. Anyone. We know that negative thoughts produce negative results in our lives, right? What I can do is refuse to feel sorry for myself. I can bring in all the logic and reasoning my adult brain has to reconcile the fact that life isn’t a fairytale. Things aren’t always as we want or expect them to be. And I can look for what’s good. And for what can be. I can seek the Lord to give me a right and different perspective, as He reminds me of what’s always most important – near or far – pouring your life out for the lost ones. It is my kids’ sacrifice. It is my sacrifice, too. It honors God. Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life” (Mark 10:29). James 1, verse 4 tells us that when we have cause to exercise patience, if we allow it, patience will work good things in us, making us perfectly whole with nothing lacking; “wanting nothing” as the King James version says. I’m not saying this is easy. It’s not. It's a day to day dying to my own wants and desires. Seeking first the Kingdom of God, knowing all other things, all the things I want and desire and need, will be added to it. That’s Matthew 6:33. The message that God won’t give to you in abundance is as old as Adam and Eve. Satan continues his lie. He says, “God is holding out on you.” If he can get you to believe it, you’ll stay dissatisfied in your life, always searching for something or someone else to fill what you believe to be lacking. There’s probably a whole other episode on this subject alone. But, I can reject that lie that’s trying to keep me from trusting God for my every need. I can trust that if God has called them to be so far away, He’ll bridge the gap. He’s a God that leaves nothing lacking. He’s the greatest comforter and provider - for all that I need to emotionally and spiritually connect with my kids and grandkids…even physically.

Okay, friend, I’m not sure who needs to hear this message today, but God kept putting it on my heart to tell this piece of my story. So here it is. I’m praying that if you’re experiencing things in your life that are not at all what you’d hoped or dreamed or expected, that you’ll ask the Lord to give you a right and different perspective than what you’ve previously had; that He would allow you to see what’s good and can be. And that you’d have the strength to re-write your story from one of lack and disappointment, to one of hope and peace. This is possible with the Lord’s help..even when life doesn’t go as planned.

If this resonates with you, friend, if your life is not looking like you’d hoped it would, I’d love to be your Life Coach and help you navigate through these deep waters. I coach Christian women on all the topics that we face in life. It would be my privilege to help you.

I’ve put a link in the show notes for a free 30-minute call so we can see if we’re a good fit to work together and show you how Life Coaching would work for you.

Also, don’t forget to get the free, downloadable guide that complements this episode. The link is in the show notes. It’s like a little Life Coaching at home.

Have a wonderful week, friends. See you next Wednesday for the next episode of Another Beautiful Life.

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