I adore Christmas. Every. Single. Part.
And I don’t typically experience a big “letdown” afterwards because I love the New Year almost as much.
I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions (anymore), but I become giddy at the thought of a New Year, all the potential stretching out before me, all blank planner pages, wide open calendars, and possibilities.
My daughter and I strolled through Target and Michaels earlier today, part of some typical errand-running. I nearly swooned at the sight of all the organizational items- bins, racks, baskets, drawers- and all the planners. These items ALWAYS lure me in, wooing me with the promise of what a new year can look like, sleek, streamlined, organized, under control. My life, sleek, streamlined, organized, under control. *sigh* Some of these items may have made it into the cart. Who can resist?
You see, I am a planner girl. Sitting next to me as I write this is my brand new 2018 planner. Not a single stroke of ink written anywhere within, just waiting for what will be written. I’ve tried multiple times to switch completely to electronic calendaring and planning, but I always wander back to the beauty of paper. I love the texture of paper under my fingertips and the ritual of writing things out longhand, making my plans and musings real and concrete in a way typing on my laptop or entering them on my phone just won’t satisfy. *sigh* I may have just ordered special self-adhesive leather tabs from Amazon for my shiny new planner. And some colorful gel pens.
I’m a girl who loves to plan. When we have something coming up, say Christmas or a friend’s visit to Texas, I am all lists and calendar, thinking through details, mapping out my strategy, preparing menus and shopping lists, considering different outings and making reservations, trying to be prepared and flexible and spontaneous all at the same time, a knife’s-edge dance to be sure. I truly love this process, this writing of my story, thinking through special things to do with those we love, making sure everything is in place to make it all work.
I’m a girl who wants her plan to be followed. When I was younger and things in real life didn’t line up with the picture in my head, it really threw me for a loop. I had a hard time adapting and learning to roll with changes. I’ve gotten better. But when I have put in the work and research, I really love to execute what I’ve worked on. And it’s hard when it doesn’t happen.
In the past few years I’ve been girl who’s learned her plan is not always the best plan and that her (carefully laid and near to her heart) plan can be bypassed, amended, and straight-up kicked to the curb without her consent or input. It was never part of my plan to lose my health not quite 3 years ago. And it certainly wasn’t my plan to leave my career because of my chronic illness, to move 1400 miles away from all I knew, or to leave a daughter behind in college in California. But this girl with a planner has learned that the One who planned me, created me, and purposed me in this life has a far better, far-reaching, far-seeing plan that I need to seek above my own. And I’m here to tell you that there’s great freedom in that. And I’m here to tell you that each one of those very hard not-part-of-my-plan things have resulted in blessing, in one form or another.
It’s become clear to me that my late-December/early-January gravitational pull towards planners and organizational items pours directly from my desire to control my life, to write my own story, to have things run a certain way.
And in some ways those are really good things. But those desires also beg the question of who really IS in control here? And is my story more important that the story God desires to write within me? Again, this is freedom. Not having to pretend I’m in control because I’m so not in control.
Does that mean I will bluster blindly through 2018? Absolutely not. I will be intentional. I will plan. But I will hold those plans loosely, ready to abridge, abandon or do a total 180 from said plans if needed. Take a moment to look at this passage with some fresh eyes:
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13
We see the first part of this verse on all kinds of items in the Christian world. But it doesn’t end there; the rest of the passage rings loudly in my ears. Yes, He has a great plan for me, but part of that plan is for me to call out to Him. He will listen, He (and His great plan) will be found as I seek. So at the dawn of a new year, of 2018, I sit down to plan. I sit down not to make lists of resolutions, but to think about my year differently. To ask some questions rather than just making lists. To seek God’s plan, not only my plan. To set aside all the “shoulds” that threaten to crowd my brain for the path that God wants me to walk in this coming year. To embrace the freedom of following the Planner’s plan rather than just my own.