Better Than Best-Laid Plans

By Frances Williamson '23

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV

I consider myself an organized person. From a young age, I prided myself on my organizational skills: I kept my toys tidy, I kept my room clean, and, once I entered college, I kept my agenda planner impeccable. And I had a plan. Since I was four, I knew I wanted to become a veterinarian, and my choice of college, major, and classes grew from that assumption. I passed through college ticking off the boxes of required credits, but while I enjoyed working with animals, I started to feel that something did not quite fit. But I persevered, and I stayed true to my plan. Slowly, classes became less exciting, and the curiosity I once felt for medicine began to fade. I started to force myself to attend class, while the history electives I took became a reprieve – a chance to actually enjoy the work I did.

Halfway through my junior year of college, after a particularly eye-opening internship, I came to the realization that I did not like medicine and could not force myself to enter a profession I did not love. My plans, although well-laid, no longer pointed in the same direction they pointed for seventeen years. A few days after I made this career-altering decision, I walked into Bible to discover that the evening’s topic was letting go of control and trusting in God. By the start of the next week, I felt an odd sense of peace. I finally felt I was moving towards something that fit.

I did not recognize it at the time, but looking back on my time as an undergraduate student, I clearly see how God pushed me towards my current path; although I fought the instinct my entire life, something in me felt drawn to history, law, communication, and service.

I am so grateful that my plans fell apart. I failed to achieve my original goals; I did not go to vet school, and I will not spend my life working with animals. But more importantly, I failed to listen to God and trust in Him; I did not ask God what he wanted me to do or what He created me to become. I relied only on my plans and skills without taking time to focus on who gave me those skills and for what reason. Even in this post, I used the word “I” more times that I should. My path to law school is not the one I intended, but God has shown me it is the path He wanted me to walk. Being here at Harvard Law comes as a direct result of His support, His love, and His patience with my refusal to relinquish control and listen to His call. The best-laid plans of my four-year-old self fell apart, but once I turned to God instead of my agenda planner, He guided me to something better.  

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