In addition to being a really, really ridiculously holy FOCUS missionary, my sister Martha is a really really ridiculously good baker. My mom was no slouch when we were younger—but she’d often employ the faithful help of Betty Crocker when preparing a birthday cake. Martha, on the other hand, scoffs at mixes and peruses cookbooks for ideas. Her first attempts at a recipe often look just like the pictures. It’s amazing and delicious.
One of the most meticulous elements of Martha’s baking is her patience. She’ll hang out in the kitchen for hours, allowing dough to rise and temperatures to adjust so that her creations are never rushed. I tend to be much less patient- turning the oven up a few degrees to try and save time. The inevitable consequence of this short cut is always burnt cookies with gooey, uncooked centers and cakes that collapse.
The kitchen isn’t the only place I struggle with patience, though. The warm weather of spring reminds always reminds me of a condition I call the “senior scramble.” (Not to be confused with “senior-itis,” which is the condition of being so. over. school.”)
The senior scramble is that little bubble of panic you feel when you realize that it’s May. Summer’s coming, and you don’t have a job or a significant other. Or housing for that internship you’re starting. Or the college plans you had hoped for.
May is when it gets real. The predictable routine of school is about to end and suddenly you realize that you’re not 100% sure what the future holds. When I started college as a freshman, I assumed that life was now on a set track — I’d meet and fall in love with my future husband around the middle of my junior year so we could be engaged by the time we graduated and get married in the summer. We’d both get great jobs, acquire a house with a white picket fence, live happily ever after with our dog and three kids and be active volunteers in our local Catholic Church. I had seen this story unfold in the lives of others, so I figured it would be mine, too.
Then my junior year came and went with no prospects on the dating front and I realized that I was facing my senior year single as a pringle and unsure of what career path I was supposed to take next. I wondered if God had somehow misunderstood the plans I had and forgotten to send me the perfect job and Mr. Right.
Over cups of ramen noodles and cans of cherry coke, my friends and I would discuss the current state of affairs. The temptation I felt was to try to force things — to chase after any eligible man or take a job that didn’t seem quite right — because the uncertainty was scary.
I began the classic “senior scramble prayer” of giving God deadlines, making prayers like “please let today be the day that I meet my future husband, find a job the perfect distance from my family and a good outlet mall and let me finally figure out what I’m supposed to do with the rest of my life.”
Then an amazing thing happened. I graduated without a boyfriend. I graduated without a “real job” and worked in Belize as a volunteer missionary for two years.
And it was awesome.
That spring, instead of embracing the senior scramble, I embraced Jeremiah 29:11,
“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you… plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future full of hope.”
I didn’t have a house with a dog and white picket fence, but I had amazing experiences of bringing the gospel to communities in need, traveling to villages in the back of pick-up trucks and encountering the world — and the Church — in a way MY plans never would have allowed.
I realize, now, that my worry about the future must’ve seemed rather comical to God. Because HE knew that after my time in Belize, I’d be led to many fulfilling opportunities to serve the Church as a youth minister and, eventually, meet the man that He’d chosen for me.
But when I was facing my “senior scramble,” this was all in the future. I didn’t know the plans He had for me. Much like my impatience when I attempted to bake desserts in the kitchen, I wanted God to act on MY time and send me all the answers right away.
When I rushed my recipes, I ended up with burnt cookies and falling cakes. When we try to rush God, we end up anxious and can even miss out on the perfect plans He has.
No matter what your age, as you face the “senior” or “springtime” scramble, take the prayer of St. Teresa of Avila to heart:
“Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing frighten you, All things are passing away: God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.”
God has a plan. You don’t need to scramble.