Throughout high school, I was convinced I wanted to go to culinary school after graduation. My parents and I toured a few schools that had reputable—and impressive—culinary programs, but none of them ever felt quite right. They were not bad, but I didn’t feel like I fit into any of them very well.
Senior year, I decided to get a job at a local bakery. This place was exactly what I had pictured myself owning one day. Not too big, not too small. When I stepped in the kitchen door in the morning, I was greeted with the smell of steaming hot bread, fresh from the oven. A dozen different kinds lined the cooling racks. Sugar cookies with bright icing were displayed in the dessert case, and fresh, local honey was sold in mason jars. I didn’t want to eat any of it, I just wanted to sit and admire the perfection of that little bakery tucked away on a road off Main Street. I thought this environment would be the perfect place to grow and shape my culinary skills. I thoroughly believed I would leave there and be ahead of the culinary game, ready to step into school well prepared and confident in my abilities.
But when I started working, it became evident I did not belong in the world of culinary arts. I begged to work the front counter instead of helping in the kitchen. I chose to wait tables instead of icing cakes. I enjoyed working with the customers, and the other chefs were amazing to learn from, but no part of me wanted to spend the rest of my life kneading dough or baking four-layer cakes.
When I knocked culinary arts off my list, I felt completely lost. I had put all of my eggs in one basket and I was now out of options. That is what I told myself, anyway. Of course, this was far from the truth. There are countless other professions outside being a chef, but I focused too much on the assurance I lost instead of getting excited about new opportunities
I spent the next few months hopelessly wondering what was coming next before finally deciding I wanted to be an editor, ideally for a magazine. It didn’t take long for me to change my mind again. Long story short, I spent most of my high school career aimlessly pursuing jobs and worrying about the future, but I never really did anything about it. I fussed and complained about not knowing where to go next, but I didn’t do much else to prepare for my next step in life.
I was restless. Nothing felt right, no matter what I tried. I thought of all my friends who knew exactly where they were headed in life, and I got jealous. Why did God show them exactly what to do, but leave me floundering? Why did I have to worry about this, but they already knew? It just wasn’t fair.
Well, my older self has a few choice things to say to that 17-year-old complaining about how life isn’t fair, but that is beside the point. The one thing I would really want to tell my younger self is to be patient. I got so rushed trying to head on to the next thing in life that I forgot to finish what I had already started.
God doesn’t work by my timeline. Too often, I get impatient and forget that. Believe me, I have spent a long time wishing that was not true. It is hard to wait for someone else.
Did God just forget to give me a calling? Did He decide not to show me where to go next?
No, of course not. He didn’t show me my next step because I had not yet gotten everything out of where I was. When we feel stuck or restless, God has not forgotten us. He simply isn’t finished working with us in our current situations. Sometimes, it is because He is working in us, and sometimes it is because He is working through us.
Either way, God has not forgotten us. Even when it is hard to see, God is working in our lives. Consider the book of Ruth or Esther. The hand of God is active in their stories, even though the action is not in the foreground.
So, wherever you are, be all there. Don’t get caught up in looking for the next step in life. Let God use you where you are because His plans are so much better than your own. Don’t get anxious if you cancel your own plans, because God will place other, better things in your path. I spent months praying for the perfect culinary school to attend after graduation. God had different things in mind for me. I did not get what I prayed for, but God works all things out for good, and that means that He perfectly orchestrated my life. At the time, I was bitter that things did not work out the way I wanted. Now, I see that that time of waiting prepared me for the next step in my life.
Remember, God has not left you hanging. He will lead you and direct you when the time is right.