You’re young. You want to see the world; experience the sights and sounds and have as many adventures as you can, because that’s what young people are supposed to do. Right?
Yet here you are, not living the idyllic life. Your reality is very different from what you imagined life would be at this stage. You are stuck. Stuck where you live, and there may be several reasons for this. It could be that you have always lived in the same place, in the same house, with the same eccentric neighbours; and all you want is a change. Or you may be living in a new town, but it’s really small and everyone knows everyone. The opposite could also be true; you live in a place that is so big, so busy and so fast paced, that people don’t connect, and you crave to be somewhere different. Or you could simply have ended up somewhere that you never wanted to be in the first place. Whatever the reason, you feel stuck, and there doesn’t seem to be any way out.
You Are Not Alone
The first thing that I can tell you is this: you aren’t the only one who feels this way. While it may seem that every young person is out there living the dream, a lot of us have been left behind, including me. I am 20 years old and I’ve been studying at a university that is only a quick trip down the highway from home, and trust me when I say that this is not at all how I imagined it. When I started applying to universities, none of the applications went to local places. I had big plans, like most young people. I was certain that leaving school meant leaving home. Obviously, where I was going to study was something that I prayed about constantly and I was sure that everything would fall into place exactly the way God intended, at whichever university I had applied to, of course.
Our Plans Are Not the Same as God’s Plans
It turned out that God had an entirely different plan. Within a few months of applying, my world turned upside down. Not just upside down, but it felt like my entire world had been blind folded, spun around 5 times, tripped, and fallen on its face. All the things that I had counted on and always assumed to be unshakable, had become quicksand. At first, I saw it as even more reason to leave, to get away from what I considered to be a part of my past. As my life was falling to pieces around me, the pieces of a plan that I will never be fully able to understand were being carefully arranged.
You Are Never Truly Stuck
The result ended up staying, right here. But I’m everything but stuck. You see, you’re only as stuck as you imagine yourself to be. God knows what He’s doing. His view of our lives and the lives of everyone and everything else includes the past, present, and future. It is so much wider than our own. Infinitely, in fact. You are never stuck, because the God who made you is in complete control, and His plan for you may involve you staying put where you are for a time. And I know it’s not easy, but it is possible. The only advice that I am able to give are things that I learned myself.
As always, prayer is vital when you are feeling stuck where you are, regardless of whether it is because of where you live or because of something else. As Christians, our starting point should always be prayer. This verse says it all:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
– Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)
You Don’t Need to Leave Your Home to Grow
These last two years I have still grown a lot, despite the fact that I didn’t go far from home. The comfort that you may think you have in your hometown does not mean that you don’t need to grow up and have responsibilities. I still need to study like everyone else and I still need to resist the urge to just waste all my time on nonsense instead of being responsible. More than that though, because I stayed near my home, I assumed more responsibility in my church than I did before. It gave me a great opportunity. In this process, I know that I have grown spiritually because of the stability of having my church family and my own family close by. I am also really lucky in the sense that several of my good friends are still in the area as well.
Now I am not saying that it’s better to stay home or to just stay wherever you are and never try new things. That’s not it at all. The point that I am trying to make is that even when things don’t work out the way that you intended and you feel stuck, you can still grow, and God’s plan in the midst of you being “stuck” could be bigger than you ever imagined.