This past Sunday (as on most days), I woke up with a plan for how my day was going to go. I was going to go to church, spend the day there, and drive back to school after watching the Super Bowl with my friends. It seemed like a pretty good plan to me. After all, I was the one who came up with it. But my day didn’t turn out that way.
When I woke up, it was sleeting. I didn’t think much of it. I got up, got ready, and headed to church. But I quickly realized that things were not going according to plan. The roads were slick, and just driving from my house to the church was a scary experience. Once I got to the church, I had no idea what I was going to do. I ended up going home after service because the roads were too dangerous for me to drive to school on.
My initial reaction was frustration. Why did my plans have to change? I had to email all of my professors and let them know I’d be missing class, which is not something I enjoy doing. I also had to cancel an allergy appointment, which meant having to rearrange even more plans. Plus, I had no guarantee that the weather would ease up for me to drive to school on Monday. In my head, it all seemed like a big mess, and it upset me.
I think this is a pretty typical reaction when plans get messed up. It is for me, at least. I like to think ahead. I like to know what I’ll be doing at any given time throughout the coming day. I don’t mind a bit of spontaneity every now and then, but for the most part, I’m a planner, and I think a lot of people can relate. Life is just easier when you go in with a plan. You can get more done that way, and there is less room for a wild card to come in and take up all your time. Planning things out just makes sense.
But I think problems arise when we get too attached to our plans, and this is something I really struggle with. Once I’ve got my day planned out, I don’t like it to change. If someone asks me to rearrange something, I am tempted to get annoyed or frustrated with him or her, and I start to feel like my whole plan is falling apart right before my eyes. I mean, we already had it all planned out. Why does it have to change?
That’s the thing, though. Plans do change. It can be for any number of reasons, good or bad. It might be something uncontrollable like the weather, or it might be human error like a friend waking up late on the day of an important meeting. But no matter what the reason, plans are going to change. You could create the most meticulous, beautiful, well-thought-out plan in the world, but by the time that plan comes to fruition, something about it will probably change. And for me (and I think others), that’s really hard to accept.
It’s one thing to accept that plans change when it comes to small things like a lunch meeting or when one leaves for school. Even I can usually talk myself into coming to terms with the fact that plans change on this level. But what about when it’s something bigger than that? What about when your whole life plan is changed? What about when something unexpected, like an illness or the loss of a job, comes in and just completely shatters everything you’ve planned for your life? What then?
I can’t say I know a whole lot about this level of change. But I imagine that you have to do the same thing with these big changes that you do with the small changes. You accept them. You adjust to them. Even if that’s hard, even if it seems impossible, there’s not much else you can do. Sure, you can get upset or try to live in denial, but that’s not going to get you very far. Because like I said before, plans will change. It’s inevitable, and often it’s something we cannot do anything about. So we have to accept it and do what we can with the situation we’re in.
I think life would be a lot easier for myself and the other planners out there if we could keep the simple truth that plans change in mind while we’re making them. If I take the approach that I have a plan, but it’s flexible to some change if need be, I’ll probably be a lot more open to change when it inevitably comes along. I think ultimately all of our plans should be considered temporary pending God’s approval. He has a master plan for our lives, and we should always try to conform our plans to His.
Because when it comes down to it, God knows what’s best for us. His plans are perfect, very much unlike ours. And sometimes, those curveballs that come our way and mess up our plans may just be God’s way of saying, “Hey, that’s not the direction I want you to go!” And not all curveballs are bad. So if you’re a planner like me and things don’t go according to plan, just try to go with it. And if you end up snowed in watching the Super Bowl with your family instead of driving to school, well, maybe that’s OK. After all, plans change. May as well make the most of it.