It was late spring. With less than a month before the end of my sophomore year of college, I was still without a summer internship—and I was feeling the pressure. Both my majors required internships, but so far, nothing had worked out.
In my head, I had outlined that I would complete my communication internship the summer after sophomore year, and the sociology internship after my junior year. But I was frustrated because, after sending out over twenty résumés and having a few phone interviews for a communication internship, I was still coming up empty-handed.
At a certain point, it occurred to me that I could turn to prayer for help, as I have throughout my life. So I pulled out my copy of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy and looked up a passage that seemed like a good basis for my prayers: “Spirit, God, gathers unformed thoughts into their proper channels, and unfolds these thoughts, even as He opens the petals of a holy purpose in order that the purpose may appear” (p. 506).
This passage helped me approach my internship search from a different basis. Before, it had seemed like I needed to find my place and purpose. But as I prayed with this passage, I was comforted to recognize that God is always unfolding, or revealing, our place and purpose. Really, then, we’re never “finding” or “making” a place for ourselves, but are instead being led to, and discovering, the perfect place that God has already created for us. Knowing that God was in charge helped lift the burden I was feeling.
I’d been so caught up in my own plan that I’d never even bothered to listen for God’s direction.
Several days later, I was reading Science and Health again, but this time I wasn’t praying about the internship. Right in the middle of reading, though, a thought suddenly occurred to me: Why not complete your sociology internship this summer instead of your communication internship? I was surprised by this idea, but I knew it was from God because it had never dawned on me before that I could change my plans.
I realized I’d been so caught up in my own plan and willful approach to the search that I’d never even bothered to listen for God’s direction. It reminded me of these lines from one of Mrs. Eddy’s poems:
“Thou wilt bind the stubborn will,
Wound the callous breast,
Make self-righteousness be still.”
(“ ‘Feed my sheep,’ ” Poems, p. 14)
I like to think of “the callous breast” as representing pride or stubbornness, because callous is defined in Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language as “hardened in mind, insensible.” With a hardened state of mind that had outlined when each internship should occur, I hadn’t been open to hearing what God was leading me to do. But as I finally did listen to God, I was able to let go of my own will and find a better path forward.
I started by calling a couple of nonprofit organizations. It seemed like it might be futile to ask for a position just weeks before the summer began, but within a few days, both organizations had called back, ready to welcome me for the summer. The quick, effortless nature of this second part of my internship search was further proof to me that God really was leading me.
Not only is God’s way the best way, but the timing of each step along our path is also in His hand, or under His control.
The nonprofit where I chose to intern met my needs both academically and personally, and I in turn was able to contribute my skills and bless the organization. The next summer, a communication internship worked out just as beautifully, with another organization that felt like exactly the right spot for me.
This experience reminds me of a Bible verse that says, “My times are in [God’s] hand” (Psalms 31:15). To me, that’s a reminder that not only is God’s way the best way, but also, the timing of each step along our path is in His hand, or under His control. By following God’s guidance and switching the order of my internships, I was able to complete a big project for my sociology major early with the knowledge I’d gained that first summer. This gave me more open time my senior year, while the timing of my second internship gave me a solid base of knowledge with which to enter the workforce soon after graduation. God’s timing was definitely better than mine ever would have been.
This experience taught me the importance of letting go of willful planning so I can be receptive to God’s direction. I’m very grateful to know that this loving divine guidance is always present for each of us—and that we can confidently set aside our own plans to listen for it.