The old adage goes that we make our plans, and God laughs. That’s never felt more true for most of us than the reality of this year.
What even are plans anymore, we wonder. What is time? What is predictability? What is routine?
The interruptions, uncertainties, and discouragements of this year have left many of us floundering at worst and, at best, throwing our hands in the air gesturing toward our complete submission to the unknown.
While a certain attitude of fluidity can be a great help in times like these, it’s worth examining our hearts in this regard. Is our attitude one of trustful surrender, or beaten-down despair? There’s a vast difference, and if we’re honest and find that the latter is more true, perhaps the Lord is inviting us to renew our vision.
When I Couldn’t See a Future
There was a dark time in my life in which I could not see before me. I knew that our yearly events and traditions would cycle around again, yet they somehow didn’t feel real. When I expressed this hopelessness to my husband, he ran to our office and returned with a stack of giant sticky notes.
“Ok,” he said, “let’s find some things for you to look forward to.”
So we started writing, and flew through that stack of sticky notes. Some things we wrote about were big: our yearly family trip to the beach, a homeschool retreat I was planning with my best friend, our baby’s first birthday. But most were less-flashy: date nights with my husband, a summer picnic, family movie nights.
As we wrote and talked, a smile spread across my face. I breathed a little easier. We hung those giant sticky notes all around our house. Everywhere I looked, I saw signs of life and hope. I can’t adequately put into words what that did for my soul.
Putting My Trust in the Lord’s Promises
It wasn’t about filling my mind with distractions from my present suffering. It wasn’t about numbing or taking control. On the contrary, when I allowed myself to make plans with the Lord, it was an act of trust in His promises. In Jeremiah 29:11, God proclaims that He has given us a future full of hope.
In making plans in faith, I was declaring my hope in that promise. And it was a turning point.
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How It Looked Practically
I started pulling out my planner again, filling in time slots with obligations and times for rest. I planned meals again. In went play dates and goal-setting sessions and doctors’ appointments. I made a to-do list, something very familiar to my type-A personality, and I began to make progress on it.
The sheer act of putting effort into cultivating a future with, through, and for Jesus began to change the health and wholeness of my entire person.
Of course, plans still fell through or didn’t turn out as I envisioned. But again, that wasn’t the point. The point was shifting from a mindset of paralysis and despair to a mindset of joyful anticipation.
Are You Struggling to Make Plans?
Maybe this year has left you feeling like making plans is a fruitless endeavor. Maybe you think there’s no point in looking forward to things when they’re likely to be cancelled. But can I propose that inviting the Lord into your present and looking forward with Him can renew your sense of mission, purpose, and joy in the Gospel?
None of us are guaranteed tomorrow, and we should focus our efforts toward living in the grace of the present moment. But if you’re struggling to find an anchor of hope, allowing yourself to believe God has a future full of hope in mind for you does not negate the holiness of now; rather, it amplifies your trust in the merciful love of Jesus.
So grab your planner, sit before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament if possible, and look forward together.
Are you struggling to make plans heading into the new year?
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