My “Joy Journey” started without my permission in January 1997!
Does that statement make anyone else cringe and laugh at the same time? Well if you did either of those… keep reading. I have spent most of my life struggling to find the balance of plans without control. We are all a work in progress. Some of us more than others.
Control – Planning – Preparing – three words with very different but connected definitions. They each produce different mindsets and actions. For me they were intertwined like a casserole… you could pick out the parts you didn’t like but it was way more effort than just going with the flow and taking a full bite. They are still very much bundled for me so it requires a daily mindset change. We all have our hurdles. My big one is trying to plan for and control every possible outcome. I call it being prepared. That is just simply absurd. I can say for me personally, it is impossible for me to do this AND live my life to the fullest. Something always gets lost, damaged, or sacrificed along the way if I pursue a false sense of secured outcome through my own individual effort. Do not even think about saying I don’t agree with preparing. I’m a preparation addict. I love plans. I am just cautioning, from my 50 something trips around the sun, that it is a slippery slope trying to control outcomes in life.
Living in the moment ~ finding joy in the unexpected ~ is absolutely not my issue. I am proudly good at those things when I allow myself to expect it or when I plan for it. And I plan it often. Looking up or around or through the planning to realize there is a bigger picture is the struggle. On vacation, it’s the plan to be present, be adventurous, ignore life bumps, so I do. Date night is a plan to focus on my favorite guy, so whatever the night brings, I’m in. When I have my cute little grandbabies over, I plan to play, enjoy, and be present so I do that. I’m not tempted in those moments to talk on the phone or work or clean the floors or do the laundry. I can easily unchain myself from responsibilities, chores, people if that is in the plan. What I miss is the opportunities to connect, impact, and observe, allowing my heart to lead and my brain to shut up when I have other plans. What if I allowed the bumps in the road to change my direction instead of me autocorrecting them (aka fixing) to adjust my direction to the one I started out after? Sometimes the bump throws you just a bit to the left. Other times the bump throws you into another zip code. It’s a challenge, at least for me, to think it will be okay for me to have a detour. And in the fear or misguided security of the plan, I have missed some really cool opportunities.
So back to the beginning, 1997. The year started with me setting my goals which were to head back into my college career. I put that on hold in 1990 – a 7 year break – to start my family – and I got my two amazing sons from that PLANNED detour. It was great. The plan was thoughtfully created with my husband on the same page. Go back, get my degree, start my career and then proceed to have 1-2 more children. All should happen inside of 5 years – easy peasy. I prayed and sought after God by telling him my plan and challenging him to redirect me as I am always wanting to do HIS will in my life. HIS will with MY plan. I was just so motivated. Feeling great about myself and my ability to manage (another great term I use to mask control). As I turned 28 on the 28th of January – I celebrated. My Golden Birthday and my life was right on track. AND THEN (you will see me use this term alot in this blog)… AND THEN God decided to test my readiness to follow HIS will, to test my sincerity in living my life with HIS purpose. He decided to detour me to the road he wanted me on. And one night changed my life, our lives forever.
Toward the end of the next month, I was feeling tired, easily explainable as I was changing my life up and my boys were just 5 and 2. A sweet friend after a couple of weeks of my being emotionally and physically tired not to mention being scatterbrained thoughtfully brought me an iced tea and a pregnancy test. Oh how I laughed. I can still hear that laugh in my mind. I don’t accidentally get pregnant. I plan these things. I use birth control. I know my body… or… do I? Oh I’m surely not. Oh I surely was. In a matter of just a few short weeks, my plan had a huge detour in the form of a baby bump.
Now comes the test. A baby even in the best-case scenario needs preparation. My plan was later. A baby. Now. Not THE plan. Now what? If you had told me one month earlier that someone was blessed to have an easy time getting pregnant and felt good while pregnant and they were upset that they were… oh the words of judgment that would have come out of my mouth. Oh the look I would have given that person. But now because it was me and was messing with MY plan – that was different. I took a total of three tests because I was sure that I had planned a non-pregnancy. I was mad at God, mad at my husband, just plain mad at the world. Was there a thought for a second about how that baby felt riding around in its “mother” ship while I was acting like the world was ending. I was not interested in giving God or life any room to create a new destination. The emotions were flooding and I could not gather my footing. And as the days went by over and over again I kept hearing, “You can control yourself out of Joy”. “You can navigate yourself safely to a life without purpose”. I dismissed and disregarded and ignored the words. A week went by and I couldn’t sleep for hearing them. AND THEN I asked the question, “What do you want from me?”
I want you to trust me, to trust your husband and to enjoy this gift that will change your life. The Truth? I said No. I said I wouldn’t. I said this is not fair. Reality Check. I think I have it all together and I act like I’m flexible, but the truth is I’m all good until one of the elements of my expectations are threatened. Why do I feel that way. I’m still learning. It happened to me this last week. I have begun to recognizer sooner that every single time I am given the opportunity to throw my plan out the window and follow God’s plan, I am surprised at the awesomeness and preciousness of how my life unfolds. So my “No” turned into a “Maybe” that turned into a “Show me what you got”. It was progress. It was all I had in February 1997. And God said that was enough. AND THEN my Joy Journey began, without my permission or planning but with me reluctantly onboard.