I’m a planner. I like to know exactly what my week looks like before it begins. At the start of every semester I get a thrill from carefully going through my syllabi, class-by-class, and writing the semester’s assignments in my planner.

When I started seminary three years ago, I made a tentative five-year plan. Three years of school. Two years of overseas ministry with a non-profit. After that, I decided I would be ready to meet a nice guy, settle down, and start popping out babies while pursuing a career in writing. What I didn’t include in that five-year plan was the possibility that God maybe had other plans for me.

The last place I ever intended to work when I heard God call me to seminary was the local church. Part of it was my aversion to church politics. The other part was a belief that there was no place for me to serve in the church as a woman not called to children’s ministry.

My call to serve in the local church came slowly over my time in seminary. Even once I truly believed my call as a woman is just as true and valid as my male peer’s calling, I struggled to see how I could ever fit in a congregational ministry. All my experience was with media and non-profits and overseas missions. God may have called me to the local church, but the local church would never call me to itself.

O ye of little faith.

On January 4, 2016, I started working for First Baptist Church of Gainesville, Georgia as their Lilly Resident. As I pulled up to the church on that first day, all I could only lift my eyes heavenward and ask, “What are You thinking? Are You sure this is really where You want me? I really hope You know what You’re doing because I sure don’t.”

Within the first few days, I was designing pamphlets and editing videos for our new foster care ministry. Within the first few weeks, I was teaching Sunday School and dreaming with fellow ministers about partnering with a refugee resettlement ministry. Amazingly, my patchwork resume was being put to good use. Maybe God did know what God was doing by calling me here.

Making plans for our future is not a bad thing. We would never get anything done if we didn’t plan ahead, but the danger in plans is holding too tightly to them. “A good journey begins with knowing where you are and being willing to go somewhere else,” Richard Rohr says.

If we want to live into the fullness of God’s life for us, we have to hold our plans with open hands. We have to be open to the possibility that our calling will change over time. We have to be willing to let God interrupt our best-laid plans.

I used to think that the first call God gives us is the call we will pursue for the rest of our lives. I also used to think “calling” and “career” were synonymous. Seeing my own career trajectory take a sharp turn has reminded me that the only sure calling we have is to love God and others as Jesus taught us. Thankfully, that’s a calling that we can live out no matter where we are and what we are doing.

Rachel Freeny is finishing her final semester at McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta, Georgia. She has a B. A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from Samford University. Currently, she serves as the Lilly Resident at First Baptist Church Gainesville in Gainesville, Georgia.