That’s what I am. A planner. I like to lay things out, set my goals, make a plan, execute, and succeed. This is how I roll. I’ve been like this my whole life. I am a girl who is giddy at the sight of a new day planner or calendar at the beginning of a new year. A blank canvas, waiting to be filled. This is not to say I can’t roll with the punches, get creative, and adjust with circumstances, those left turns that life throws at me. Not at all, I can TOTALLY do that. But I always have an end result I’m shooting for and a sense of control over the process and (sometimes) outcome. Or so I thought.
In my years of teaching, this was the time of year to lay out a year-long plan, a glorious frenzy, setting up classrooms, getting my world organized, laying out plans for my next newly improved unit/technique/ideas (many fueled by my awesome department head/friend/partner in crime Ric Reyes). I was buying supplies, making my surroundings adorable AND efficient. I was so enthralled with my empty lesson planning book, nothing but potential for creativity there! When I was in my glory as an executive assistant, I was always planning for something the office/my boss/the region needed, working on the next steps, the next seasons, planning the next meetings and events. Loved the whole process and the satisfaction of seeing my carefully laid and executed plans come to fruition.
I walked through Target with my soon-to-be-a-high-school-senior daughter today as she bought school supplies. Out of the blue I totally choked up. (Strange how Target is mentioned so often in my blog. I should get a royalty.) Not choked up (like any rational mother) because I was getting school supplies for my youngest child for the last time in high school, but because it hit me full force that I wasn’t planning anything myself. Nothing. How oddly out of character and unexpectedly disconcerting. It threw into sharp relief how drastically my world has changed since April, when I was a woman with a plan whose plans were suddenly turned upside down. I saw the beautiful classroom supplies I would not need to set up. The adorable office supplies with no office to go to. The cute day planners (I DO still use a paper planner, one of the few of my kind) I would not need to fill. I am without a plan. And I, like so many with chronic conditions, am learning/struggling to deal with this.
No plan. From the perspective of one who has walked through some insanely busy seasons of life, this sounds glorious. And it can be. And it was. For a week or two. Then I realized this lack-of-plan season wasn’t going to be short-lived. And I started to feel a bit adrift. I’m now in this strange state of limbo; it sometimes feels like I am without a purpose. After all, I can’t DO very much at all these days. I’m not sure at all what to plan for. Or if I can actually plan for anything concrete.
No amount of planning, or much of anything I do, can control how I will feel when I wake up. If I overdo one day, yes I do reap those consequences the next day (or two, or three), however the inverse is not always true. I can spend a day on the couch “being good” and resting for an event/errand/plan in the future and STILL feel like I was hit by a Mack truck the next day.
One of my dear friends, whose sweet daughter has a chronic condition that limits their activities, gave me great words of wisdom: “We don’t make plans, Kathleen. We have ideas. And sometimes they work out.”
I am learning more and more that even when I HAD a plan, that didn’t/doesn’t mean I have control. And I have far less control now. Not easy for the planner in me. I was very tempted to buy a label maker during this morning’s retail festivities to start labeling storage areas in my house, file folders, anything that would stay still long enough to be labeled! But I actually laughed out loud at myself and put said label maker back on the shelf. I recognized that was truly just another bid for controlling SOMETHING in my life.
No part of where I am with my health and uncertain future was part of my plan. But who among us REALLY knows what the future will hold? Who REALLY has control of their circumstances? We all have ideas, but they don’t always work out. I was reminded of this passage as I was thinking about this today:
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
Setting aside my plans. I’m getting better at that. Learning to live in the present with a looser hold on what the future will look like isn’t a simple thing for a planner like me. But it is making me more open and more vigilant to see His will, what is needed, where I’m being led, and what plans really don’t matter very much.
This scripture, while often quoted, rings truer than ever to me in this season:
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 hope and a future.
He’s got the planning covered.