Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Falling Past the Five-Year Plan

I used to be a five-year plan kind of person. Or tried to be. I don't know if there are any more of that breed still out there, but if there are I'm not among them. Too many five-year plans - and one-year plans -and one week plans - have failed.

It feels strange to say I'm grateful for this. It only recently hit home that the best laid plans of mice and men are only the plans of mice and men.  That what actually happens - despite my lists, schedules and failures - can turn out to be good.

It helps a lot, at times, for instance, like Monday - when I read in Don Pape's interview that readers have begun to expect the same prices for books as they do for iPhone apps: free, or at least cheap. Think of the trouble this signals for any who want to be paid for their writing.

Maybe you've seen it written on posters in Facebook: "Never give up what you really want for what you want right now."

May I suggest a new one? "What you really want is easier to get than what you think you want."

My five year plans outlined the things I thought I wanted. For Instance: to make my living writing books.

But recently - by accident, default or sheer grace - I have managed to allow God to write his own list for me:

  • To settle into this moment, in this skin.
  • To loosen my grip on my needs and desires, assuming, like any loved daughter, that I will be cared for.
  • To see for once the things I missed when I held so tightly to my needs and desires that my eyes were clenched shut.
  • To write from a place of wonder, generosity, and compassion - for my characters, my readers, and myself.
  • To give, assuming, like any commissioned servant, that provisions will be in my hands when they open.

Now that I look at the list, they don't seem so easily gotten. Whole years of things came before. And if I'd put them on a five-year plan, I doubt it would have worked out.

It feels, though, as if I just let go, and let myself fall - in frustration, or resignation, or weariness.

But when I fell, grace caught me. How easy was that?


Megan Sayer said...

Oh yes, and amen!!
Come to think of it, I say that a lot after your posts. Probably because you are, so often, right.
I like the letting go (well, I like it after I've done it). I've done it a fair few times now. I've learned, for the most part, that God does exactly what He wants anyway, and, whether I like His plan or not, it's always good.

Footprints From the Bible by Cynthia Davis said...

Beautifully said. Thank you.

Patti Hill said...

Thank you, Katie. Thank you, thank you, thank you. With much love.

Henrietta Frankensee said...

I had a plan...and it all worked out pretty early in my life.... Then what?
It all went haywire. God took over and now I live day to day.
Whenever I make a plan for working on my story it gets upended by grief or trauma....that I needed to pass through in order to write the story God planned.
Blessed are the flexible for they shall not break.

Kathleen Popa said...

Megan, yes: letting go always feels best after we've done it.

Henrietta, I like that: Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not break. But they don't always know that, do they?

Cynthia and Patti: Mwah!

Cherry Odelberg said...

Whoa! Tall order. Necessary. May Grace abound.

And, I agree - the flexible don't know that until it's over.

Camille Eide said...

This has given me plenty to ponder today. Funny, I don't even subscribe to today's common thinking that we women have the power, la la la, to realize our wants and demand our needs. Not because I'm so selfless and spiritually mature that I have no needs, but because one of the by-products of Learning Things The Hard Way (I hold a PhD in this field) is a kind of pessimism which constantly reminds me that life isn't fair and crap happens in spite of the best laid plans of... you know. So it's possible to stay perpetually "needy" and remain just as bankrupt because instead of truly letting go and resting on God, we just give up and expect nothing. Stop dreaming. Resting on God is a snap when you're not aiming beyond your reach.

I'm a long-time advocate of the motto "Surrender Brings Freedom" and yet you've caught me off guard, made me wonder if I've truly surrendered all that I want, or if I've merely stopped dreaming.

Marian said...

My devotional reading this morning (April 24th in Jesus Calling by Sarah Young) spoke of this very thing. "Your fear often manifest itself in excessive planning. Your mind is so accustomed to this pattern of thinking that you are only now becoming aware of how pervasive it is and how much it hinders your intimacy with Me." Okay God I hear you.

Patti Hill said...

Marian: Those sentences grabbed me, too.

Lori Benton said...

Me too, Patti and Marian. And thank you, Katy, for underscoring that message with this post. This is the first year in a long while that I made my plans and goals and had to let one of them go very early on in the year. There was certainly a lot of trust in that decision, because my little planning, driven self laid it down with trembling hands.

Kathleen Popa said...

Cherry - Yes!

Camille, wow - the difference between giving up and letting go. You caught me off guard, too.

Marian, I remember the day I read that passage in Jesus Calling - a year or two ago, and I still remember. It was spooky, how often that book nailed me.

Lori, I can't wait to hear what happens next in your life. Here's to trembling hands.

Henrietta Frankensee said...

Blessed are the spontaneous for they shall combust. As long as you look upon combustion as a chemical reaction that releases energy this is a good thing!
Every human is different from the others, can tolerate a different balance between planning and improvisation. It is not the planning or lack thereof, it is how tightly we hold the plan that makes or breaks us.

Kathleen Popa said...

I do still plan my days. Or try to. And I do still have an idea or two for the future.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15