When I was a sophomore in college, I was studying film (or rather, video production) and I had plans to make movies for my career. I aspired to tell stories, and contribute to the cultural zeitgeist with my talents. Working at a church was the furthest thing from my mind, even though I was studying at a private Christian university.
I adored acting, writing, producing, and directing short films in school, especially with my best bud, Andrew. We created characters, stories, and friendships that meant a lot to me in my formative years. In fact, I’m still writing a novel based on one of those characters to this day (and someday I will finish the 6 part saga I have envisioned… hopefully!). So my plan was to go out to Los Angeles, learn the film craft, and make movies the rest of my life.
Fast forward 14 years later, I am a long-tenured member of a production, communications team at a 3500+ attender church in San Antonio. I have been in ministry almost all of my twenties, and nearly half of my entire life (not including growing up as a pastor’s son). I have not made any films, short or otherwise, since my time in college.
All of this is to say, things don’t always go according to our plans. I had a specific idea of what my life was going to be at 19 that just didn’t happen. And that’s not good or bad. I don’t mourn that dream; at least, I don’t anymore.
You are Not Your Failed Plans
We are not a collection of the things we wished we could’ve done with our lives. We are the decisions we made, the people we shared our lives with, and how we made the most of circumstances all along the way.
You aren’t the totality of your failed plans. If you live your life regretting what didn’t happen, you’ll miss out on what is happening right in front of you and you won’t be able to appreciate what you did get to do in life in its stead.
I love the opportunities I took. I also think about the blessings I have now that wouldn’t have happened had my first plan gone my way. I have a beautiful wife and daughter. I met my wife at work in our church, something that would not have happened had I been in Los Angeles. Those plans failed in favor of a blessed life with family and relationships that have been indispensable to me.
Appreciate that it Happened
I didn’t get to make movies as a career, and I most likely never will. But I appreciate what that time in my life gave me: a love for creative work, the ability to problem solve, and my deep friendship with Andrew. Regardless of how that plan turned out, I will always appreciate what that time gave me.
And just as good times build you up, bad times can chip away at you. But that is how sculptures are made. Slowly but surely, the excess is chipped away, and a better vision of art is realized through the process. Through both good and bad, our experiences cast a picture of ourselves. We are not those circumstances – for better or worse – but we shine through clearer because of them.