I used to plan my entire year. Now, I'm happy to lose control

A verse that has been sitting on my heart for a while is Proverbs 16:9, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”

Given the year we all have experienced, I think it’s a great verse to reflect on. I love this verse because it brings me so much comfort.

I’m not sure about anyone else, but the course I had planned out this year didn’t really go according to plan. But reflecting on this verse helps me understand that that’s okay

Although your plan didn’t work out, God’s plan is so much better.

I’ve only come to understand that recently because letting go of control is something I have never been good at.

At the end of every year, I sit down and plan out the following year. All of it. I can proudly say that that majority of the time, it goes exactly the way I want it to go.

This constant need to plan every single detail of my life stems from the fear of losing control, the fear of failing. If I plan everything, that leaves nothing up to chance. So, change is something I struggle with, and this year the world was rocked by the biggest change of them all. A global pandemic.

I went from thinking I knew exactly what I would be doing to plunging into a time of uncertainty.

I would spend anywhere between 10 to 14 hours a day behind a laptop screen as my whole life become digital. I went from Zoom calls for my internship with Bible Society Australia to Zoom calls where I taught three-year-olds martial arts. I would spend whole days online for university.

And on Sunday mornings, I would try to sit myself in front of my laptop screen again for online church.

Suddenly all my worlds were smashing into each other and I couldn’t control any of it. This sparked bad anxiety in me. Really bad.

On days off I didn’t want to get out of bed. I felt as though I was physically and emotionally numb. My mental health was so bad that my parents and I decided I should take a break from university.

I felt as though I let my parents down, and that wasn’t something I was used to. I couldn’t find peace with the fact I failed the course I had planned.

I had also changes churches right before COVID and that proved to be an extremely difficult transition.

I felt as if I didn’t have any guidance which was so unmotivating. I had questions and was looking for answers. What I particularly needed to know was how to not equate failure and self-worth … but what was I worth if I wasn’t succeeding?

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” I had planned this year down to the wire but God definitely established the steps I actually took.

I realised that I didn’t need to say sorry for not being perfect.

I believe everything happens for God’s reasons but I have needed to learn to trust the process.

The anxiety I felt this year has led me to changing uni course, as well as to taking a break I very much needed and finding myself through my internship with Bible Society. But without all the obstacles and sudden changes, I don’t think I would have noticed just how big an impact this internship has had on my heart.

For all the practical and workplace skills I picked up, there have been such wonderful personal discoveries.

I was challenged as a person and my fear of failure was put to the test. Each of the six Bible Society Australia teams I worked with threw me into the deep end. I had my first experience in having my writing edited and published at Eternity. I also learned the extent of my capabilities to adapt, as this was the first team I worked with when we had to work from home this year.

I made phone calls to play groups for the Missions team, and learned about the importance of acting on God’s word to ensure it is accessible. I got to work in retail for the first time with Koorong – and learned the importance of working with a servant heart.

With the Centre for Public Christianity team, I discussed their podcast, documentary and all the work they do in the mainstream world. I was also made to question secular issues with a Christian mind for the first time and prompted to read outside my own world view.

Through the internship, I was encouraged to have my own thoughts. I was spoken to like an equal, like a colleague and not as a child, or even as a 19-year-old. There was so much trust placed in me.

My anxiety was actually helped by the various intern experiences I had. Writing a message for BSA’s Fundraising team on the cost of generosity taught me that I don’t need to be perfect.

For every stutter, every misread word during a recording session, I would stop and apologise. At the end I was told, “You don’t need to keep apologising.” I realised that I didn’t need to say sorry for not being perfect.

Now, I actively look for ways around the “sorry” word. If I’m running late, instead of saying sorry, I’ll thank people for waiting for me. Showing gratitude while embracing that I can make mistakes.

I no longer feel as though I need to be in control.

As a perfectionist, creativity has always been something I have struggled with. When I asked someone at BSA how I could become more creative,  they said, “Perfectionism gets in the way of creativity.” By caring too much about not knowing how to do something, by not trying new things because I’m afraid of failing, I am hindering my own creativity.

The last lesson I have carried with me is that “No one hass arrived.” As a young Christian, I was so encouraged to hear this, especially from a CEO of a Christian organisation.

We never stop growing in our faith – and this has been something I struggled with so much this year.

Changing church denominations right before lockdown was so incredibly hard but my internship helped me develop so much through this chapter of struggle. I was surrounded by so many older, like-minded Christians who would impart their wisdom, guidance and friendship.

For the first time my hunger to know more, to learn more, to do more, was being met.

My questions were listened to and I was directed to where I could find answers. I was supported through my triumphs and mistakes.

Now, I am embracing my mistakes not as failures but as lessons. I am trying new things and not caring if I’m good at it at first. I no longer feel as though I need to be in control.

In my heart I planned my course, but everything that happened this year, all the steps were established by God. I am the best me there is because of the steps God has established for me, even though I am not on the course I had planned out. And my best is enough for him. And now because of my life-changing internship at Bible Society Australia, I have learnt that it’s enough for me too.