I wouldn’t say I was a planner, no. I’m more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants gal. Moment to moment, that’s me. That’s me.
– Vivian Ward, Pretty Woman
People tend to make major life plans in January.
I think it’s a confluence of year-end remorse, the awful weather giving us too much time to think, and the impending windfall of our income tax returns that makes all things seem suddenly not only possible, but plottable on our calendars.
I find the hubris of it a little breathtaking, if I’m being honest.
When she died, you do this thing where you stop making plans because you had plans and there was a car crash and your plans disappear. I just try to get from sun up to sun down. That’s as far into the future as I can handle and I’ve been fine with that, I have, but right now, looking at you, damn, I have all kinds of plans.
Finn “McVet” Dandridge, Grey’s Anatomy
I’m not sure when I really, really stopped making plans.
It might have been when my mom died. Or it might have started before that, with the implosion and slow recovery of my marriage. My plans disappeared, and really I was a moment-to-moment gal to begin with, so I went from “not really a planner” to someone who couldn’t even be pinned down on dinner plans. For tonight. Can’t commit to anything that far ahead, sorry. We’ll see. It depends.
Some weird things happen to your life when you pathologically refuse to plan.
You become a bit (okay, a lot) frustrating to other people. Because as much as they’d like to include you in things, you’re optional equipment at best. Being honestly noncommittal is still, well, noncommittal. You can’t be counted on to be there.
You would think that your forward momentum would stop completely. In fact, keeping things the same can be a big motivator for refusal-to-plan. But life doesn’t stop. You just become a passenger on a series of random trains heading to destinations you didn’t select. A tourist in your own life.
In the gospel counseling training Chris and I are going through, we’re learning to look at people’s life situations, their struggles and difficulties, and lovingly listen for two things: evidence of lies and unbelief, and evidence of grace and God’s presence.
So if I’m going to apply that to my own “refusal to plan” situation, I can see that I’ve been believing that “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans,” with the mean-spirited addendum that He’ll be laughing as He, invariably, completely derails them.
That’s a meanspirited way of looking at God. During the sermon yesterday, Daniel said something along the lines of “when you ask God for something, do you think he’s sitting up there waiting to squash you for asking?”
I asked Chris later if that was me. He looked me straight in the eye and said “You’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop. You don’t expect God to give you good things because you don’t expect anyone to give you good things.”
So, I’m thinking that’s a yes.
But still, you can’t stop there. You can’t stop with looking at the lies you’ve let yourself believe. You have to look for grace, too. And the biggest evidence of grace I can see is that my life doesn’t suck. It’s the opposite of sucky.
Somehow, that series of random trains brought me to a job that is darn near a perfect fit; a marriage that right now, is amazingly awesome; two kids who are smart, funny and generally well-adjusted; and a church family that is patiently walking with me back from the spiritual desert I ended up in. If that’s not evidence that someone has been intervening on my behalf, I don’t know what would be. Especially considering some of the genuinely stupid things I’ve done in the last few years, just me still being in one piece is a solid piece of evidence.
But that doesn’t mean I should keep on riding my metaphorical Eurail pass all the time. It doesn’t absolve me of the responsibility for setting a course for my life. It doesn’t mean living entirely by spur of the moment decisions is the best way to live.
Some goals are worth setting. Some destinations are worth planning and working towards.