The Check List

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Have you ever made plans for your future or had a picture in your mind of how things would play out? Of course you have, all of us do.

I was the master planner when it came to planning my future. After University I had a plan. I had this check list of things that I wanted to happen in my life, with a timeline attached to it and I just wanted God to tick the Terms and Conditions block and sign below. Only to discover that what I had in mind for my life was completely different from what God planned for me.
After graduating from The North-West University with my Bachelors in Communication and Graphic Design, I headed off to the UK with a two-year working visa to start my career as a successful Graphic Designer. Or that is what I thought…
When I think back to that time I actually can’t believe how naive I was to think that someone in London would appoint a 22 year old South African fresh out of varsity, with very average marks and no work experience. The plan was to start working at a security company who placed security guards (mostly young women) in the art museums in London, and then search for a graphic design post in the following 2-3 months. Everything was planned, courses were attended and when it came to the placing in the museums, only a few got placed (although everyone was guaranteed placement).
So there I was, frantically searching for a graphic design post with my bank account running empty at a terrifying speed. I ended up doing several temp jobs, from selling perfume and beauty products in fashion stores, to selling door-to-door debit-orders for hearing impaired children. We lived in an apartment on top of a video shop so I even worked there during desperate times. But none of these were long term solutions as the temp positions only allowed two or three days work per week and thus my debt quickly piled up. I had to get a permanent job, and fast…
Before I left for the UK I had this plan as I’ve mentioned. Everything was going to go my way and it would be smooth sailing. I had “The Caterpillar Perspective” as mentioned in my first post. So my dreams and views for my future were limited to that which I thought I deserved. I studied Graphic Design as I wanted to hide my low self-esteem and fat body behind my computer in an office somewhere. I knew it would not be easy to find a job, but I was willing to do odd jobs in the beginning as I truly believed that I would find something permanent in my field within two or three months.
When family and friends heard that I was going to work in the UK they suggested that I either do caring (looking after the elderly) or au-pairing. I dug my heels in as soon as someone brought up the subject as I refused to do something that involved interacting with people most of the time. The reason for this was that I really didn’t think that I was a likable person and I strongly believed that I couldn’t work with people.
So, in short. Two months turned into six and if it wasn’t for wonderful friends lending me money and a caring landlord giving me time to pay off my debt, I would’ve ended up on the streets. I remember becoming so desperate that I ended up picking up coins from the street. For every 9 pennies I could go buy myself a tin of baked beans at ASDA. I ended up phoning my very worrying mom who lent me money to pay off all my debt.
I also realised at that stage that it might be time to tear up my check list with my future plans for my time in London and to climb out of my comfort zone. At that stage I was reading Francine Rivers’ Leota’s Garden about a young girl looking after her grandma, and it dawned on me that I still had the option to go do caring.
It took me six months and an empty bank account to realise that my plans had failed. It took God a total of six hours, from the moment I gave in and handed my job future back to Him to start revealing the plans that He had in mind…. and Caring it was indeed. I looked after an 83-year old lady with Dementia for six months and in the first month I was able to pay back the whole debt amount I accumulated. I was also able to save enough money during that time to travel through Europe for two weeks.
As a carer I almost lived a life of isolation and I had lots of thinking time on my hands. It is during that time that I realised that maybe if I allowed God to have a larger say in my life (aka get rid of my tick list just waiting for Him to sign), I would actually end up in better places and situations than I planned for myself… completely different… but better.
A door then opened to go teach pre-preschoolers in Taipei, Taiwan for a year and I was very hesitant as I still believed I couldn’t work with children. Why would I want to go live in Asia? I had so many friends in the UK at that time and only one friend in Taipei. I knew I had to pay my plane ticket by a certain date and realised that I would not have enough money in my bank account. I used it as an excuse to almost say: “Nice idea God, but seriously, how are You going to make this happen?” Guess what, on the due date the exact amount I needed for my ticket was waiting in my account…I foolishly forgot about double pay I got for working on several banking holidays, but God remembered…
So off I went to Taipei, for one of the most amazing, fulfilling and life-changing experiences of my life…
And that because I started trusting a bit more…
Clearly He had a plan with it all…

2002: In Switzerland while touring through Europe

2002: In Switzerland while touring through Europe

 

Photos by: Personal and Pixabay

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