This is the second installment in a series of posts that tell a story. To start at the beginning, click here.
A few years ago, my dad found some old movies of when my brother and I were growing up. We all crowded on the living room couch to watch as he pulled out a video of my preschool graduation.
Preschool. Just remember that.
As each proud four-year-old got called up to receive their diploma, each was also given a unique award, created just for that particular student. One little lego-loving boy got “Best Builder”. Another artsy girl received “Artist of the Future”!
My award was “Miss Know-It-All”. I kid you not.
Needless to say, when this part of the video rolled around, my family turned into a laughing, pointing mess. Husband included.
The worst part was that, on the video, when I went up to get my award, I was SO excited to be Miss Know-It-All. I returned to my seat proudly displaying my certificate and nodding in agreement with the wording on the award. At the age of 4, I already believed that I had all of the answers. And I was really, really proud of that.
Right answers just made sense to me. They still do. I’m a pretty black and white person, and for me, A + B always equals C. Every single time. Rules are there for a reason, right? Obey the rules, get the goods. Be right, and wrong can’t touch you.
So, I built my life around the rules.
I was the girl who did all of the right things.
I got straight A’s.
I ran with the good kids.
I didn’t smoke or drink or date.
I did my very best at everything, because I wanted the very best, and I believed the only way to get the life I wanted was to follow the rules. All of them.
I built my faith this way too. I checked off all of the good girl boxes. I got baptized, accepted Jesus into my heart no less than twenty-three times, read my Bible, went on mission trips, and volunteered in the church nursery. I got a mentor, and mentored younger girls. I did all of the things a good girl was supposed to do.
I lived my life believing that if I continued to do all of the things I was supposed to do, I would eventually get all of the things that I wanted.
So I planned. I planned and I planned and I planned. And I got really good at planning.
If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you already know this about me. I swear by my daily planner, and I’ve got the stickers and the color-coded pens to prove it. I’ve written many blog posts comparing paper planners, helping my readers pick which one would be right for them, because everyone needs a planner! And I’ve even created a planner myself. Chances are, that’s what brought you to this blog. So it’s fairly likely that you get this quirk about me, and you might like planning too.
And truthfully, there’s nothing wrong with planning, to an extent. It’s good to have goals and direction.
But a problem arises when THE PLAN becomes the thing you’ve decided to build your life on. It’s a bit like the man who built his house on the sand—only to have it all come crumbling down, unable to withstand a real storm. When your whole life is built around plans that you’ve made all on your own, pretending you’re the one in control of it all, you can pretty much bet that the tide of life is going to come and wash it all away.
At least, that’s what happened for me. I had built this idealistic picture of what my life would be like, assuming I made all the right choices.
I’d graduate college, immediately find my dream job, and become the best in my field. (Teacher of the Year, anyone?)
I’d meet my future husband, who would fall for me immediately, and he’d sweep me off my feet and he’d be tall and kind and such a gentleman.
He’d propose, we’d have a quaint but perfect wedding, and move immediately into our yellow house with a blue door, a green lawn, and a white picket fence.
We’d have four kids, an obedient and housebroken dog, and be best friends with our neighbors.
See? Idealistic. I don’t even like dogs all that much. I don’t know how I expected to fall in love with a man when I don’t think I had a real conversation with any male (outside of my family members) until I was at least eighteen years old. I literally married the first guy I dated, and somehow that ended up working out. We have been married for almost 8 years and we are still renting an apartment, with no green yard or picket fence in sight. And we stopped after two kids, because my body is a complete failure at pregnancy.
In my head, though, that was the dream. A safe, comfortable life without many hassles. I wasn’t naïve enough to think that it would be without it’s difficulties, but the difficulties I imagined were more of the daily, not-so-serious type. I pictured a life where I could finally let my guard down and be happy. Everything would fall into place if only I kept doing all the right things.
(I am literally laughing out loud as I re-read those sentences. Oh, silly me…)
But my life actually did play out that way for a while. I lived by the rules, and my plans worked out during almost all of my school years. Again, not without it’s challenges, but those challenges were more along the lines of “why don’t I have a boyfriend yet?”
Which, in light of actual challenges, is not really a challenge at all.
Yes, perspective is everything. In my pursuit of the ideal life, I never realized that the life I was living was pretty ideal all along. These were the years in which my faith was formed, and my life set on course. I knew what I wanted and I expected it to come, because I was doing all the right things. And as a good girl, I knew I had God on my side. I was the girl with a plan, ready and waiting for her life to live up to her own lofty expectations.
On second thought, naïve describes that girl pretty well.
To be continued…
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