Tag Archive | plans

On Failing 2017 Ten Hours In

file0001417654154(My musings at 10 am New Year’s Day.) It’s that time of year again. January shows up, and we infuse everything with special meaning. Time to wipe the slate clean, start new, make goals. And I admit some years I do exactly that. I take January 1 to have some kind of mythical, spiritual power, and if I treat it right, I can secure happiness and joy for the next 364 days.

Except this year it started wrong. January 1 is a Sunday, and my family is skipping church. I had a terrible blood sugar night, and I felt nauseated all night, and I can’t make myself leave the house yet, not without feeling icky. And my husband, who’s been fighting something for weeks, is asleep. This is miraculous, and no way am I going to wake him up. Unless the house is burning down or zombies come, I’m not messing with him.

Also, we’ve been packing and house hunting, and I haven’t given even five seconds of thought to the year ahead. Nothing. Currently I’m living a life unexamined and unplanned, simply moving one day to the next.

So. Does this mean my year is shot? Have I started a trend that will bring down our family before the year is over? I doubt it.

God likes rhythm. Seasons, days, years–He made those. He gives us rhythms of work and rest. Ecclesiastes points out the rhythms of life more than most, with times to heal and kill and grow and reap. So there’s something to be said for awareness of the rhythms of the world around us, of aging times and growing times and all those other times. And it makes sense that the first of the year is a great time to reflect and think and look to the future.

But this is America. We’re the place that takes good things and goes crazy with them. I don’t believe a bad Monday means the week will be ruined. Or a bad morning kills the whole day. I’ve never been good at goals, not like those people who have everything planned, specific and measured and weighed. Seems God can take my bad Mondays and finish with an amazing Friday. A harsh winter can lead to a mild summer. And a goal–He seems to delight in upending my goals and substituting His own, and usually they look like chaos until that final moment when it all comes together and something beautiful happens.

If you have no goals this January, it’s okay. I have one. We sold our house a few weeks ago, and we haven’t bought another one. So my goal in 2017 is to end it not homeless. Pretty basic goal. I don’t have any specific spiritual goals, because last year I failed. I think I’ll just read the Bible and ask God to put together some direction and goals. I want to sell more books, and I have a few goals there, but honestly what I think will work always falls short, and things I never even considered will suddenly encourage people to buy for reasons that make no sense to me.

Sure, it’s good to have goals. The Bible talks about planning before doing. But I think this year my goals will be small. They’ll be flexible. They’ll be general. And while I wait for Him to put meat on the bones of my hopes and dreams and goals, I want to learn patience and trust. Trust most of all. Sometimes goals are a way of avoiding trusting God. At least they are for me. I struggle to trust God more than any other struggle. So maybe I do have a spiritual goal, but I haven’t the slightest clue how to make that happen. No actionable steps (ooh, I struggle with that word.) Just a vague notion that I’m failing and only He can bring victory. Clearly I won’t be writing a seminar on setting goals this year.

Okay, God, your work is cut out for you. Be my goals. Be my plans. And all You wish to do for and through me–do all of it for and through me.

 

Lollipops, sunshine, and job search psychoses

Facebook has started to tell me what some of my posts were a year or two ago today.  Today it showed me this quote, from exactly one year ago:

When I ask God to show me his path for me, and it is filled with sand pits, thorn bushes, and monster mosquitoes, I realize what I MEANT to say was “Lead me on the path that’s all roses and lollipops,” as though somehow I deserve a better life than countless prophets, martyred saints, and Jesus himself. Shame. On. Me.

That could be my post today, too.  I haven’t learned a lot in the past year.  I am STILL looking for the lollipops and roses.  And people don’t help.  Countless people have said to me during the past couple years,  “I hope God shows you his plan for you soon.”  For a long time I agreed.  Yes, we need a plan.  Clearly this isn’t right; something needs to change and God needs to put us back where we belong.

But, I suspect when my husband lost his job, we didn’t fall off the track of God’s plan.  Suddenly we’re alone, in freefall through some virtual realm, waiting for reality to catch up with us and for us once again to find the plan. I don’t think so.  I think, as much as I don’t want it to be true, today, unemployment and all, we are solidly standing on the track.  THIS is the plan.

I don’t want this to be the plan.  I want the roses and sunshine and lollipops.  I think everyone does.   And in this culture, where the TV and internet and magazines promise that the good life is possible with the right purchases or the right choices, sometimes I think I deserve it, that anything less than the lollipops is very unfair.

My husband is back in the game.  He’s got a couple resumes out there heading for hiring managers.  A couple interviews.  It’s time to dust off patience and start waiting again, and it’s miserable.  I have discovered I am the impatience queen.  It’s almost easier for him to be in classes only and not looking for awhile.

Yesterday I was angry.  It was the most senseless anger I can imagine.  My husband’s resume is on the way to a hiring manager for a good job.  A real job that would end our search, possibly for a very, very long time.  But I know we won’t hear anything for days.  And I was angry.  I was already angry with God for not giving us this job, for getting our hopes up and then letting us down, for making the path so filled with disappointments.  I was angry with my husband for not getting the interview or the job.  But nothing bad has even happened yet!!  Technically, there is hope for this particular job.  A good deal of it.  But certainly not much faith for it.

Nothing like a little preemptive anger to show just how faulty my thinking can be.  I must have told God a hundred times since yesterday how sorry I am and how stupid I feel and how I want to be faithful but can’t seem to get there.  I’ve enlisted help of others to pray over this job because I don’t feel capable of praying with confidence, with faith.  Not simply faith for this particular job, but faith that God is guiding us, faith in his care in general.  (And I know our care has been scrupulous and utterly miraculous, which just makes my attitude more sinful and ridiculous.)  It’s so embarrassing I’ve debated deleting this section for ten minutes, but it’s so true it needs to be said.

Clearly God is working on us.  I very much hope sanctification is occurring, because I feel a new awareness of the depth of my selfishness and silliness and sinfulness.  This is the plan.  The plan is from God, and the plan is good.  Painful, sometimes, and scary.  Not without tears and hard moments.  But also filled with joyful moments.  It’s big and complex and goes way beyond me and my little universe.  There are lollipop moments, but not many, not yet.  Once again, shame on me for my way of thinking.  And I can only hope that by rehashing these things over and over, repenting and admitting and turning toward better ways of thinking, maybe by next year I’ll laugh at last year’s post and think “Oh, yeah, I remember being like that.  I’m so glad God and I have dealt with that.  Now onto other areas to sanctify.”