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Hayley Murray
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My last Sunday in Galveston is a day I would label one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult, of my life. I made the drive down Seawall one last time, attempting to prepare my heart for every goodbye I had to give, unable to even rip myself away from my thoughts long enough to take in the gorgeous sunrise over the water. I had spent the entire day prior to that Sunday crying while packing my things into cars with my siblings and friends by my side, but I felt completely alone that day. It felt like no one understood how much leaving was hurting me and no matter the tears or what words I tried to form, it all fell short of the raw emotion eating away at me.

Looking in a mirror the day I left, I couldn’t see the girl who had first made her way to Galveston for school. In her place stood a reflection of learned lessons, a thankful heart and Christ’s love. A year prior to that goodbye, I had started praying, asking God what was next. When an opportunity presented itself for a year-long internship at a church, I applied while God simultaneously started breaking down the wall I had built up in regards to ever moving back to Dallas (I strongly suggest never telling God never…). By the time interviews and results for the internship were approaching, I had realized and made peace with the fact that I was either going to get the internship and take it, or I was going to move back to Dallas. Opportunities to press forward in Galveston had faded so when I found out I didn’t get the internship, my brother and sister-in-law offered to open their home to me in Dallas while I finished school. I said yes despite my selfish desire to remain where I was.

Every single part of me clawed at the door that was closing on my time in Galveston, trying to keep it open for as long as possible, and my heart was breaking. But ultimately I knew God’s plan was where I needed and wanted to be. This goodbye was challenging because my time in Galveston had taught me so many things.

Galveston was home for me. I was that person who hated the drive over the causeway because I preferred to remain on the island. God had given me family there, the school I loved was there, I had ‘grown up’ by the water and it all had filled my heart so much that I wasn’t sure what would happen when I left. As I sit here writing this and reading what I’ve written, it still doesn’t seem to even skim the depths of how difficult it was to leave.

But I did. On May 22nd, I spent the morning sobbing at church (I’m talking full on ugly tears) while saying goodbye to the kiddos who had taught me to see the world through a different lens, the friends who had encouraged and been there for me through so many things, the family that I had grown used to seeing every single week and living life alongside and the island that had captured my heart in every way. 5 hours later I found myself outside my comfort zone, in a city where cars and highways are the hum at night instead of wind and waves.

It wasn’t long after moving back that God, yet again, closed the door for school. Those of you who know me pretty well know I’m not an advocate of the American dream. I’m not someone dead set on finishing school just to make sure I have a degree or just so I can try to unlock other opportunities or a higher salary. I fully trust in God’s ability to use us where we are and open the doors He needs open. That isn’t to say that I don’t think people should go to college, absolutely not what I’m saying, but I will never place God in a box and say He needs for me or anyone else to have a degree before He can use us, because it’s about His credibility and resume, not my own.

I had moved back to Dallas with the intention of finishing school because I had the opportunity here to learn more about my passions in a more affordable way. With that said, I’ll admit I was frustrated and even somewhat angry when the door once again closed. I had moved back here just so I was able to finish and I couldn’t understand why it kept feeling like I was being pulled backward. The feeling was that of a being a student in grade school who was held back, over and over and over again. It was incredibly easy to sit there and think about the fact that I’ll be 24 in less than a week and if success were to stop by and measure me by the world’s standards, I would be long past failing. It was easy for me to sit there and think about the fact that all of my friends had graduated college, some even grad school, most with ‘big boy’ jobs, many married or close to it and starting families. Me? The polar opposite of all of those things. I wanted to know why God had brought me back here if it wasn’t to finish school and finally move on to something else. I felt tired of being stuck in the same place, unable to move forward past the hurdle of school.

Frantically, I tried to figure out a plan B for my time in Dallas but every door I tried to open remained closed. I spent two months applying to job after job whether it was administrative, ministry related, in a restaurant, working with kids, tutoring, jobs that dealt with writing or working with medical records. Yet my phone never rang and no email showed up and I felt myself falling apart. Had I made the wrong decision? Why was I here?

Amid the world that revolved around me, I was finally awoken when I found out my younger sister is pregnant. My eyes were opened to how much I’ve failed at being there and supporting both her and my older sister in the last few years and through that God reminded me of the relationships I have with friends and family that I’ve neglected altogether. I also realized that the love it had taken me so long to learn to accept is the same love I was neglecting to show them. Among the feelings of not understanding why God had brought me back to Dallas, my grandfather passed away and the overwhelming feeling of realizing I was exactly where God needed me hit with incredible force.  For the first time in years my family members were all in a room together and it broke my heart knowing that it took losing my grandpa for that to happen. I wasn’t angry with anyone, but my heart truly hurt knowing the years of distance that made itself all too aware in that moment.

God was taking each of these moments and rapidly showing me my move to Dallas was by no means a mistake but instead part of His sovereign plan.

I came back from time with my family in Indiana full of contentment with where I was at. People around me were making comments about me being nothing more than a cashier at my age but one of the things my time in Galveston had taught me was that there are no small jobs when it comes to serving Christ and our ministry is exactly where God places us, with the people He surrounds us with. I had made a plan to move back to Dallas, finish school as fast as possible and then see my way out even faster but in just a couple of months God had taken my selfish attitude toward Dallas and evolved it into not just contentment, but peace and comfort in the realization that I’d be in Dallas for more than just a quick season to finish school. I can confidently sit here and say I’m content to remain where He has me, for as long as He is able to use me and if you were to ask any of my close friends, they would no doubt be shocked by how God has changed my heart in such a short period of time.

I spent many nights in tears at the thought of being back in Dallas, surrounded by past hurt, messy relationships and memories I had been more than happy to avoid. Even after moving, the tears continued and I sit here now in awe of God’s grace and sovereignty. Moving back here had already been plan B for me and something I had told God I never wanted to do; even the plans I had made for moving back here led to closed doors. Yet I sit here and think about the many times I’ve made plans for myself in every area of my life and remember each closed door or red light, and I realize exactly how God was at work in every situation and season. Each red light led to my plan B, or C, or even Z, but that plan was always God’s plan A. I’m constantly amazed by His faithfulness and goodness.

This transition has been a difficult one and a big part of why I know I’m back here is to allow God to work and reconcile relationships within my family. It’s hard, messy, and uncomfortable and God is using every single part of it all for His glory.

You may be going through a season right now that is everything you didn’t want it to be and the difficulty of it all is so heavy. Hold tight to God’s promises and be encouraged in knowing He is sovereign and always at work. The picture is so much bigger than what we can see right in front of us.

  “The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the spirit
Commit your work to the Lord,
and your plans will be established.
The Lord has made everything for its purpose,
even the wicked for the day of trouble.
Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
be assured, he will not go unpunished.
By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,
and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.
When a man’s ways please the Lord,
he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Better is a little with righteousness
than great revenues with injustice.
The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps.” – Proverbs 16:1-9

 Being back here may have been the last plan on my list but it’s always been God’s first and He is constantly showing me why. I’m incredibly excited to announce that I was offered and have accepted a position as Associate Preschool Minister for The Village Church – Dallas Northway starting in November! I am beyond humbled by this opportunity and grateful for God’s promises and faithfulness because it is absolutely because of Him that I am able to make this announcement today. Working with kiddos and their families is truly a blessing and I can’t thank everyone who has been a part of the process enough for your encouragement and prayers! I never saw this opportunity coming when I moved to Dallas and the door was closed for school but God is sovereign and always at work, we just can’t always see the bigger picture.

Our Plan B Is His Plan A.


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