On August 3rd at 5:30am, I hopped in my jam-packed Honda accord and set out on the 12 hour road trip from Colorado to Texas for my return to TCU as a sophomore.
On August 3rd, I thought I had it all figured out.
With a year of college experience behind me, I assumed nothing could trip me up on my second go-around. Sophomore year would be a breeze - I thought I'd struggled with all those "normal freshman problems" last year and I was ready to move forward into those "best years of your life" that I always hear about.
I arrived at school believing I had discovered the perfect algorithm of college success. I truly needed a pride check.
The first semester of my sophomore year was no walk in the park - in fact, I'd go as far as to say it was, at times, even more difficult than my freshman year. The things I thought I figured out last year looked totally different this time around.
I thought I knew what I was doing. However, it only took a few weeks for me to realize that I was no where near close to having all the answers.
As a freshman, I was able to come to terms with "not having it figured out," as I knew it was my first try at a whole new world.
But, this semester, I replaced my freshman year grace with harsh self criticism and doubt.
Shouldn't you know how to do this by now Victoria?
I believed that there were no second chances, and that I was expected to be perfect. I convinced myself that my freshman year was a failure, because I obviously didn't learn anything.
I'm not sure exactly when, but at some point, these unrealistic expectations broke me. I was tired of acting like I had it all together and pretending to be perfect.
Looking back, this was an impossibly stressful way to live.
Not surprisingly, my high expectations for myself lead to a lurking feeling of failure. I couldn't complete my "perfect plan" for my life, and so I felt constantly defeated.
And then, by God's grace, I realized: I'm not supposed to have it figured out.
Not knowing what I'm doing? That's simply an essential, and unavoidable, part of college.
It's an essential, unavoidable, part of life, actually.
We're not supposed to know what we are doing.
Why? Because if we knew everything, we wouldn't ever grow. We wouldn't have anything to learn. We wouldn't need each other.
We wouldn't need God.
What if God purposely created us as broken, confused, and unsure so that we needed him more? If we had all the answers, we would never ask God for help. And as our Creator, He wants to help us!
To prove it, God hand-crafted a unique plan for each and every one of us to thrive. His plans are not to harm us but to prosper us. He promises to give us each a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
Nowhere in this verse does it say that we have to have it all together or know everything in order for God's plan to work for us.
In fact, we have nothing to do with the good in our lives. Romans 8:28 says, "we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives."
God's perfect plan is to bring good into our lives. Our plan can do nothing to change that! Absolutely no effort of mine will interfere with God's wonderful, perfect plan for my life. There's not a step by step plan or fill in the blank for my life - it is too complex, too intricate, too incredible.
At first glance, the last semester of my life doesn't feel marked by goodness. But, my struggles lead me closer to the Lord, who is the overflowing, ever-present source of the purest "goodness" we can access.
I thought I had a plan for this semester. I put myself in the position to control things that only God can, so naturally, I fell short every single time. This felt like failure, but what if it was a success in God's eyes? It lead me back to him.
It reminded me once again to trust His plan, not my own.
Proverbs 16:9 says that "We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps." Plain and simple: we can try to plan our lives, but it is God who determines what actually happens.
What a relief! God has already planned my best days and worst days. He knows who I'll marry, where I'll settle down, how I'll make a living. All I have to do is surrender my idea of the "perfect" semester or "perfect" life in favor of His plans to give me hope and a future. After spending the larger portion of last semester struggling to control every little thing, this is a huge weight off my shoulders.
We aren't supposed to have it all figured out. In fact, God's plan is for us to need Him more. And when we learn to surrender, we can truly live in freedom.