Tuesday, March 18, 2008

5 Year Plans - Flushed

My CLB was famous for planning for the future. We were yearly instructed to write out our plan for the year, the next 5 years and maybe even the next 10 years. We would bring it down to the front, put it in a basket and ask God to bless it. This was extremely hard for me. I felt ashamed that I could not do this but really, I had to face the fact that my life was not mine to plan. For one, I was a wife of one, a mom of 7, and a daughter of 2 elderly parents who live just 10 steps outside my house. My life mostly revolves around other’s lives of which I have very little control. I’m a support person. I do have my own will and can plan some things that I want to do, but if someone gets sick or has a great need, I am the one to whom they turn. I don’t resent this, it just makes it hard to plan for 5 years in the future - or tomorrow with any certainty.

Then when you bring in the whole CLB thing it got even harder. They wanted you to be brilliant and plan for the future but they also wanted your future to be planned around making their future turn out like they wanted. This was not a democratic society I lived in. They planned the future for the ‘church’ and then the ‘church’ made it happen. If you were not on board for this then you were labeled “in rebellion or not one of us.”

So how in the heck was I to make out a five year plan? I hated it each year. I think I did it one year and then looked at it at the end of the year and swore I would never do it again. It just mocked me. It was a wish list, not a one year plan.

In our leaving the whole CLB, even the plans that I did have are totally gone. I am like a person out to sea with no ability to steer and it is a very cloudy night. I have NO idea what course to chart or direction to head. I felt that this was somehow not OK. We were supposed to know what we were to do, right? At least at some point we would have a clue…..right?

So when Watchman wrote this up the other day, I thought it was spot on and it gave me hope for not having a plan in sight. He says, in summing his post up:
Keep learning who you are and let that uniqueness define and shape you and what you do. Don’t be so concerned about the details of the future as you are with the details of your identity. Knowing this helped me make the decision to leave the Church As We Know It and start creating my role in the Church of the Future. I think it will serve you well, also.

And then another blogger that I have truly enjoyed following the past month or two (and can’t wait till she opens comments again after lent) wrote this about planning for the future:

So, a couple years ago, I decided to set aside the spreadsheets and the goals lists. I decided to stop praying this:
Give us this day a detailed plan of how You're going to provide bread for us every day
for the next 20 years with specifics as to what quantities You will provide and at what intervals we can expect to receive them so that I might work that into my goals milestones.
And to start praying this:
Give us this day our daily bread.


Perhaps it's my nonreligious background, but I continue to be amazed that my life has not fallen into scattered chaos without my planning it out to the last detail. What I secretly worried would happen is that this whole "following God's will" thing would lead to me jumping from one idea to the next, leaving a bunch of unfinished projects in my wake after I drifted off to do the next thing that I decided was "God's will." But that hasn't happened. Looking back at the past couple of years, there's more clarity in my life than ever before. It's like watching a play unfold: I see storylines cropping up, I'm starting to see a clear direction and purpose in where I have been led so far...I just don't know where it's going from here, or how it's going to end. As I've said before, it's more exciting than anything I could have ever planned.

As I said, it is sometimes better to let someone else speak because they sometimes can say it far better than we would have.


Fred Shope said...

God has had to teach me that my schedule and my life is not mine, but His. Sometimes the lessons have not been pleasant, but they have caused me to trust the One who knows what is best far better than I do.

Sue said...

Wunderbar post! Wunderbar! Wunderbar!


So much here to swim in. Gee, I love Advent in Blogland. It really is so rich, I almost don't need to eat any chocolate this evening :)

Thanks for the quotes from Et Tu? I love the way she expresses herself here, the detailing of the richness of a life that is learning to start dancing, trusting that in its dancing it is playing its role. Wonderful :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post. This has been something eating at me for the last 2 years since I left the ministry and the church. Sometimes I feel so like a fish out of water and think I have to know what I am doing and where I am going. God wouldn't like it. Now I am more convinced that God would like what I am doing and the rest is just a side dish.

Erin said...

This is a great post. I completely understand where you're coming from, as usual. I think we will only see our full "purpose" in hindsight.

"it's more exciting than anything I could have ever planned."

I, too, enjoy being mapless.

Thanks for introducing me to a new blog, too!

Sarah said...

You know who else was really into 5 year plans? Stalin. (Well, the Soviets in general, but especially Stalin). Sorry, I just had to make that joke. Hope it's not too offensive for the readers... :P

Great post! I relate.

Anonymous said...

For so many years I, like many, felt there was a need to plan most things in life far out in the future. Certainly, we need to have a degree of organization to keep things moving. But I am afraid that we far too often take this to extremes while thinking it is normal. It results in Father being excluded, or at least limited, in our life. As Jesus told Nicodemus the wind blows where it wills as does the Spirit. It has been freeing to learn this and allow the Spirit to freely move each moment, each day and not be so concerned about the future. This really was brought home to me when I was diagnosed with cancer a little over seven years ago. Faced with, what at the time, was a significant likelihood I would die all the planning seemed pretty irrelevant. All I had was each moment. Frankly, this is all any of us have, it is just that individuals faced with the possibility of their immediate mortality understand this more clearly. One of the things I have made a conscious effort to focus on in the years since is that we only have this moment to live....so how am I living this moment, not some future days that may never arrive?

Thank you for reminding me again of how important living now is as opposed to a future that may never arrive.....but if it does will require just living it in the grace and love of the Father, empowered by the Spirit blowing where it wills.

Tracy Simmons said...

Barb, what a timely post for me! I've been wrestling with some of these same issues lately. Your post said to my to my heart: Peace, be still! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I totally relate to this post.
I get so frustrated with this drifting around feeling..only to find that God totally knew where I was going...and maybe I didn't.
I'm learning to walk this out, not always very graciously, though...

Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

I am so excited to have discovered your blog (I just now found it now that I'm looking at referral stats again). :) I am so touched by your honestly and your love of God in the few posts I've read so far. Thank you for the link, and know that you will be in my prayers (and on my Bloglines feed)!

Barb said...

Thank you all for your posts. And Jennifer!!!!! I have been waiting till today to officially meet you. I have loved reading your posts. It is funny, you and I come from opposite spectrums of the religious fields. You, from atheism and me from the religious system. Both of us are learning to love the Father...me from refraining from the institutional church and you by joining the biggest one. Wow. Only in the Father's love could two people relate from such opposite spectrums. I have appreciated so many of your posts and wanted to comment so many times. I will continue to read and revel in the love you are finding in Him who loves us so completely.