One of my least favourite interview questions ever is: what is your 5 year plan?
I would love to answer: Well, the last time any country did a five year plan, things did not turn out well (looking at you China and Russia) .
But what I answer is: honestly I don’t know right now, and I think that’s okay because I’d rather be open to any opportunities that come my way, than narrowly seek out the kind of opportunities that fit my small human mind.
That’s my world-palatable version that I translate for the ‘secular workplace.’* The answer I give my ‘Christian circles’ is: whenever I made any plans of my own, God would always be like ‘that’s cute but here’s my plan and it’s definitely better than yours’ (spoiler alert: it is). One of my fave verses is God’s sass in Proverbs 16:9: “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”
All of my hesitance to declare a five-year plan doesn’t mean that God hasn’t placed visions and dreams on my heart. He has, and they terrify me.
God-sized visions and dreams scare me because I worry that I will fail. So I keep quiet or give non-committal answers that were planned in advance as failsafe.
If no one knows how I succeed, then no one would know I failed.
I wondered out loud to a friend about how vulnerable I should be with my writing. It’s only been 2 months but I have a small but loyal and growing readership, and anyone can read this post, from my parents and my closest friends to strangers I’ll never meet (hello to you!). One of the most uncanny moments of the past few months was hearing my friend quote back an entire sentence word-for-word from my ‘about her’ page.
Something I wrestled with before starting to blog was: should I post about what I was going through in that very week, or should I post something that has already been chewed on for years?
If you know me in real life, you’d know how I’d rather not speak until I’ve gathered my thoughts; and if you provoke me to speak when I’m not, I’m really comfortable with silence and will stay silent in retaliation to your provocation.
Anyway, that is all to say: I chose to write about things I’ve thought about for a while already. It’s honestly easier to write about something I’ve already seriously and thoroughly thought about, because then I can present it nicely in a 3-part structured essay with a neat-ish yet thought-provoking conclusion.
So when I felt God prompt me to write about the future, specifically about the dreams and visions we’re called to pursue, on the Internet where it’s recorded forever and can be seen by anyone, I wanted to run away and delete this blog.
Because who knows what’s going to happen?
I only want to write about the future when I’m done with the future. Who am I to write about the future when I literally don’t know what I’m doing for the rest of the year, or truthfully when I can barely plan for the week ahead?
You can plan the next 5 years to stay in the same school with some of your closest friends at that time, and you get the news that you’re leaving the country in 2 weeks. Or you could imagine the dream of building up Malaysia after spending most of high-school and university gearing your education to going back to Malaysia, only for God to close all doors on Malaysia in your final semester and tell you to stay in New York for a little bit.
I think what I’m most worried about is: what if I’m wrong?
No one likes being wrong, but I’m pretty bad at being wrong. It’s the fear of public failure: boldly saying ‘this is the plan’ and realising I messed up, then I have to retract that statement, apologise and make amends to start over.
That’s probably why I don’t like the 5 year plan question, why don’t speak unless I’ve thought through a cohesive thesis, why when God’s like ‘I’m gonna show you a cool thing I have for your life that you can’t achieve in one day’ and I go into a mental paralysis.
I think the subtext in Proverbs 16:9 is that my life isn’t really about what I want. God’s grand plan for the world and my life isn’t reliant on my planning abilities. Plus, one of the most reassuring things I’ve ever heard from a sermon was Christine Caine at Hillsong London saying:
“If you’re wrong, it’s okay. God’s big.”
Even though I have zero control of how the future will unravel, I do have control over my choices. Will I choose to continue in paralysis, or to continue writing this post? Will I choose the easy and safe path, or will I choose adventuring with God by my side? Will I choose a boring but solid life of Christianity, or a crazy love story of faith?
It took me years to perfect my badminton speedy cross-court drop shots that I was well-known for in high school. One hit wonders spent hours, days, sometimes months on that one song. My mum didn’t become a great cook because she read one cookbook and voila. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
As someone who goes into shutdown mode when faced with dread, I’ve adopted a little saying that I remind myself whenever I get mildly overwhelmed: one step at a time, one day at a time.
I can make plans, but God guides my steps. I literally had to remind myself of that as I anxiously tried to figure out how to approach writing about the future, as I feared writing this very post. One sentence at a time, one blog post at a time.
So in the coming weeks, I’ll be exploring this question:
How can my everyday actions bring me closer to the visions and dreams placed on my heart?
Because dreams aren’t accomplished in one day – they take time, and sometimes that’s a whole lifetime. But for now, one step at a time, one day at a time.
I’ll be starting a series on the future for the next few weeks. The plan is 4 posts in total, but plans change after all (: Be sure to subscribe your email below to keep up with blog updates, or follow me on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram!
*NOTE: I don’t believe in the divide between secular/church because God demands obedience in all aspects of life, and I don’t deem it necessary to constantly insert God into every conversation, yet what’s more important is making sure everything I do is inspired by God’s light. This doesn’t mean peachy happiness 24/7, but letting each advice and action be laced with truth. This is an epic footnote, so epic it might be a whole blog post in itself someday.