How to manage waylaid plans
The plan was for a six-week writing retreat at a log cabin surrounded by 2,200 acres.
Part of the strategy included tractor-driving lessons. To make it easier for me to haul a load of firewood to the back porch.
I crushed the tractor-driving lessons. (It helped, of course, that the machine was the cutest little tractor you’ve ever seen, and practically drove itself.)
But heading back to the cabin, careful to walk like a penguin, I slipped and fell on thick ice.
Not one for doing things halfway, I broke my wrist. Which required surgery and eleven screws to hold the T-shaped plate in place.
So, to appease family members who are concerned about me being at a remote cabin—alone, one-handed, trying to keep the fire crackling—I’m temporarily in Boise.
I tend to think things don’t happen randomly. But on purpose. And with purpose.
And while I’ll never fully know the reason for all that occurs, I trust in a big God who does. Who fully knows. And fully sees. And fully loves.
And so I’m making the best of the time, typing with one hand — oh, so painfully slow — and hanging out with family. And eating homemade ice cream (which, right there, is a very purposeful activity).
It’s one of life’s guarantees: We’ll suffer broken bones, broken dreams, broken promises, and broken hearts.
We’ll lose our cell phones, and lose our health, and lose our loved ones to drugs, to war, to Alzheimer’s.
We’ll endure rejection, abuse, bullying, hunger, deep disappointment, detours.
But in all this, we have the choice to focus on the pain, the sorrow, the inconveniences.
Or we can focus on all that makes our life full and brimming, even in a broken world: People who love us. People to love. Our stories that are constantly unfolding. A sense of belonging. Random acts of kindness that come our way. Kindness we get to extend to others.
Ann Voskamp, one of my favorite authors, sat next to an Orthodox Hassidic rabbi on a long flight. In the middle of their conversation, the rabbi turned to Ann and said:
Every morning that the sun rises and you get to rise? That’s God saying He believes in you, that He believes in the story He’s writing through you. He believes in you as a gift the world needs.
This notion is mind-bending to me.
Not just the thought of another day in which the sun rises—priceless gift. And not just one more day in which we can propel ourselves out of bed on our own steam—also a priceless gift.
But also another day for God to add to the story He’s writing for our remaining days on earth, the best-selling Author who believes we are a gift the world needs, who believes we have something of value to offer.
And so …
When the best-laid plans are detoured, we can grumble over the inconvenience. When we experience setbacks in our finances, in our relationships, in our careers, we can whine about those hard places. When we lose something of immeasurable value, we can grieve forever.
Or … we can pay attention to the gift of each new sunrise.
We can ask God to cause our days to unfold exactly as he has planned — for our good. But also for the good of others.
This thought from an author unknown:
Appreciate where you are in your journey, even if it’s not where you want to be. Every season serves a purpose.
Has something happened to you that you didn’t want to happen, but you are absolutely certain there was purpose in it?