Monday, February 22, 2016

Plans

Plans. I've been making them since I was three.

One day I'm going to marry a prince and live in a beautiful pink and purple castle...

One day I'm going to be a beautiful actress like Brooke Shields...

One day I'm going to be a beautiful model like Christie Brinkley...

One day I'm going to be a teacher...

One day I'm going to be the perfect mother who doesn't let her child scream in the middle of Target...

One day my children are going to listen to me...

One day I'm going to achieve Houzz-like perfection...

Some dreams and plans die a hard, slow, very painful death. Some stay alive, burning in my soul, aching to come alive yet never really realizing their full potential. It's these plans for my life that I have the firmest grip on, and a determination to make them succeed.

My plans for my day and my life are mostly made to benefit moi. I know it sounds selfish, and I would agree that it is. And ultimately, my plans, whether they are short-term goals to grow longer lashes (today's mental expenditure) or to organize the basement, or longer-term goals, like going back to school, they are made to make me look better and be better and do better. A better me. Who can argue with that?

Except that I believe that God also has plans for me; plans for peace and not evil, to give me a future and a hope (jeremiah 29:11). And in my finite, limited view of the world and my place in it, it is entirely possible for me to continue on with my plans--good as they may be-- and disregard His and still entirely miss the point.

I don't like chaos. It is perhaps because there tends to be so much going on in my head that I have trouble containing it, and in my younger years, saw that internal rumble spilling over as disorganization and a seeming inability to pull it together. An unholy mess of life all mixed up with me sitting in the middle, trying to plan my way out. As a result, 2016 brings on such a rigid organization (ahem...labeled cabinets) that I find myself inflexible and unmoving, seeking perfection and organization in everything I do.

God's plans for me, when investigated, come with promises that I could never dream up on my own. And even if I did, what power do I have to make absolutely certain that my promises to myself come true? A part of humanity that is true yet pushed aside as weak, I choose to see it as a part of life. I am limited. But for every weakness I have, His power and strength are revealed (2 corinthians 12:9), and His grace covers me. And even within the confines of humanity, I can lay claim to the promises that He gives, through His mercy and grace. I can roll the dice, but God decides what they will determine (proverbs 16:33).

So with (quite a bit of!) trepidation, I open my iron fist just enough to look at today. Yes, I have a plan in place. I believe that my plan is good for me. But what of God and His plan for this day? Should He have a say? Could I even begin to think that while my plan is good, His could be better? That, in fact, His plan for my day could be more than I ever could have asked or imagined? The thing is, I won't know until I'm willing to open up that iron fist and trust that He is, in the words of Margaret Feinburg, up to something good.

Thievery happens in all sorts of strange and unsuspecting ways; one minute, you think you have it all organized and figured out, and the next, you find yourself slave to your to-do lists and your busyness and your plans. Is there joy in organization? Certainly. In absolute rigidity? Maybe one could argue for some truth there, but the reality is, many forms of rigidity are fear in disguise, and fear is the opposite of joy and peace. Joy is stolen right out from under your nose. The ultimate scam.

What now? This is my thought for the day. Not just my singular thought, I should say, but my plural. Thoughts. Being open to God's plan means dying to my own. Hard as it may be for me, I crave that abundant, joyful life He promised in John 10:10, and on some days, it becomes an internal battle for what I crave more. For what I crave the most. My friend Erin tells a story (I won't get it exactly right but...) about two wolves, a good wolf and an evil wolf, both fighting for survival. Which one will live? The one you feed the most.

Cash is something most of us can relate to, and is definitely something many of us want.  But if we could stop for a minute and equate our minutes to our cash, an idea I got from Jennie Allen's study stuck, then we can say how are we spending our minutes just like we might say how am I spending my money? Are we wasting them, or saving them, or using them fully? I don't want to get to the end of my life full of apologies for how I chose to spend my minutes, knowing I don't have many left. And since none of us know exactly when the end of our lives may be...today is the day.

Let's live it well.

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