I’ve lost track of how many times God has said “No” to my prayers.
I’ve lost count of the jobs I was sure I wanted and was perfect for, the guys I was so sure were my husband, the doors I couldn’t imagine not walking through, the blessings I couldn’t imagine not receiving.
When I look over the nearly 10 years I’ve spent being a Christian, they’re littered with moments when God didn’t give me what I wanted, and my God I’m so grateful.
My relationship with God began with the most heartbreaking “No” He’s ever handed me.
I was a sophomore in college, a journalism student doing great in my classes. I had a full social life, was in the best sorority on campus, and best of all, I had an amazing boyfriend.
But, as is usually true of descriptions like that, my life wasn’t quite as full as it looked on the outside.
The inside of my life felt hollow. I felt hollow. I was drinking way too much, I felt lonely in my friend group, I felt lonely in my life, and painfully insecure in my own skin.
But, at least I had my boyfriend. He was the one, I was sure, and that year he felt like my life raft in every way.
Our lives together unrolled like a red carpet in front of us. It took no imagination to picture our future — the look on his face as I walked toward him down the aisle, curled up on the couch with a glass of wine after putting the kids to bed, in side-by-side rocking chairs observing the life we’d created together through eyes now blurred and wrinkled with age. He fit me, and I fit him, and I was sure in the deepest part of myself that we’d be together forever.
That is until we broke up.
It was the biggest, most heartbreaking “No” God has ever given me. It’s the one I fought the most, prayed against the most. And it also happens to be the one I’m grateful for the most.
Trusting God's Plans
Because in the wake of that “No,” God had plans for my life that were better, fuller, richer, and more beautiful than anything I ever could have dreamed up on my own.
That “No” set me out on a journey and along the way I found myself — becoming the woman I'd always wanted to be but never quite knew how. I found a deep confidence, feeling truly beautiful in my own skin. I found a calling that lights me up every single day and a group of girlfriends who are truly my people. A few years later, I met my husband, a man who is beyond anything I ever could have asked for or imagined — even more perfectly fit for me than the “No” I lost back in college. But more than anything, I found God Himself — beginning a relationship with Him that has filled me with more joy and light and love than I even know how to describe.
And it all started with that “No.”
Side note: I wish I could hand you a cup of coffee and tell you the whole story — the story of the relationship, the breakup, how I met Jesus in the Sistine Chapel of all places, and the journey God took me on as He put my heart and my life back together.
And actually, I can!
That whole story is in my book, The Lipstick Gospel, and if you click right here, you can download a copy of the book for free!
But, the fact of the matter is that as brutal as that “No” was, as hard as the “Nos” always are, I’ve discovered over the years that we truly can trust God when He tells us “No.” Because “No” always leads to an even better “Yes.”
But of course, when you’re in the thick of it, that’s so hard to see and hold onto!
And so today, I wanted to share 3 practical things that have helped me trust God's plans for my life (for my love life, my job, my future, my dreams, and so much more.) These 3 things have been so helpful for me, and I’m so happy I get to share them with you too!
1. Get to know God better
Imagine there were two people in front of you who were asking to stay at your house. The first one was a trusted friend. You have history together. You know their heart, their personality, and their character. The second one was a stranger. You don’t know anything about their heart, or their personality, or their character. Which one are you going to hand your keys to? The friend. Of course, the friend! The better we know someone, the closer we are to someone, the more likely we are to trust them with things that are important to us — whether that’s our house keys or our hopes and dreams.
The same is true with God! The more we get to know Him, the more we know about His heart, His personality, and His character, the more comfortable we’re going to be trusting Him with the tenderest, and most important parts of our hearts and lives. So take some steps to get to know God better!
(Need ideas for how to do that? This resource will walk you through it step-by-step!)
2. Remember how God feels about you
A few months ago, I was sitting at church, a nervous wreck. My biggest work day of the year was coming that very next morning, and I needed God to come through for me in a thousand different ways. I was doing my best to trust Him, but my clenched teeth, rigid posture, and white knuckles would tell you that this trust thing just wasn’t going well.
As the worship leaders got ready to play their first song, one of them took a moment to speak into the microphone. He said, “I don’t know if anyone needs to hear this today, but God loves you. He loves you, He’s for you, He’s on your team, He’s not disappointed in you, and you don’t need to perform for Him. He just purely and simply loves you.”
That’s all it took. Before I realized what was happening, I burst into tears. And as I cried, conspicuously, for the whole congregation to see, about 10,000 pounds of stress lifted right off of my shoulders.
The thing is, sometimes we forget. We forget that God loves us. And trying to trust Him with our hopes and our dreams when we don't know He feels about us is impossible.
So, as you’re waiting and trying to trust God with whatever your thing is, remind yourself of how God feels about you. He loves you. He just purely simply loves you. You can trust that, which makes it so much easier to trust Him.
3. Be on the lookout for His faithfulness
A few years ago, I read a book that changed the way I see God in my life. It’s called 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp, and the premise of the book is pretty simple. Her journey started when a girlfriend gave her a little notebook and a dare: Count 1000 things you’re grateful to God for. Don’t stop until you’re done.
I’d barely finished the first chapter before I got a notebook and began counting gifts in my own life. And as I did, something amazing happened: I could see God everywhere!
I don't know about you, but sometimes it feels like God is absent in my life, absent or silent. Sometimes it feels like He's not showing up, even when I'm asking and even begging Him to. But as I started looking for Him, looking for His hand in my life, His provision, His faithfulness, I could suddenly see it everywhere. It was everything from a check showing up in the mail when I needed it most, to a friend buying me coffee when I was having a hard day. He was everywhere, and He'd been there all along. I just hadn't been paying close enough attention.
And that would have been more than enough! But it turns out when we can see God’s love and faithfulness in the little things, it also helps us trust Him with the big things. So get a notebook of your own and keep your eyes peeled!
Trusting God with our lives gets easier the more we do it. It really does.
When I’m at a crossroads in my life these days, it helps so much to look back over my story to remind myself of all the times God has been faithful before, and it helps me trust that He will be this time too.
But — if you’re new to trusting God, or if you don’t have that track record built up yet, something you can lean on in the meantime is the testimony of others.
Testimonies are so powerful because they show us what God is capable of. If God can do that in your friend’s life, in my life, in your small group leader’s life, He can also do that in your life. When I first became a Christian, I leaned heavily on the testimony of my friends. Seeing evidence and faithfulness of God in their lives gave me just enough courage to step out on the ledge, trusting that He could do the same thing in my life.
And if you need a testimony today to remind you of just how amazing God’s plans are for us, how much He loves us, how much He can and wants to do in our lives, I’d love to send you mine!
I would love to share my book, The Lipstick Gospel, with you. It’s free to download, and my prayer is that it helps you see just how good God is in your life, the amazing plans He has for you, and that you can trust Him. Because you really can, I promise, and so does He.