Learning the unforced rhythms of grace


Plan B

About 25 years ago, I was standing in line for something and I overheard a conversation in the office cubicle nearby. An employee was telling a senior citizen that he could no longer drive a car. Based on his medical conditions, he had to give up driving. He was devastated. The line moved forward and I was now out of eavesdropping reach. My heart broke for this man and I had one thought running through my mind, "I want to help him see what else is possible!" I longed for him to not be limited by this one change. Losing his independence and freedom in this one area doesn't need to dictate the rest of his life. If he was willing to surrender this one thing...there could be new and good things ready to take its place. But it would take time and it would be difficult.

One of the strange blessings of living with a chronic illness is that there are many small losses every day. This means that you and I get the opportunity to practice 'letting go' often. Our plan A's become plan B's quite regularly and we become used to things changing. It doesn't mean it is easy and I certainly don't mean to belittle the elderly gentleman's devastating news about his driver's license, but there is something to be said for becoming familiar with loss and not afraid of it.

If we must have a perfect life, a perfect body, perfect house and lawn, finances, clothes and car...if we must be in control of all circumstances at all times, then we don't learn about surrender or about what lies outside of our expectations and ideals. Our grip on perfection becomes so tight that we commit our lives to keeping things in order and exactly as we want them. This makes us severely frustrated and demanding when things don't go our way.

We might start to say things like, "I don't want to get old", or "I better be able to play soccer for 20 more years", or "I'm retiring in 5 years no matter what!" Really? Is there only a plan A?

Remember when we were kids and it was raining outside and we'd make forts out of the couch cushions? Or use a cardboard box to make a rocket?  Remember realizing that wax dripping off a candle could be molded into a sculpture right there on the kitchen counter? When we start demanding our own way in life and only have room for Plan A, we lose our childlike creativity and we miss everything else that's possible! 

So I've become a fan of plan B and when someone tells me that things are not going their way, if appropriate, I try to encourage them to look for what other things God may have in mind. 

Because I'm meditating on these verses in Matthew 5 this month, I offer them again this week as encouragement. It appears that Jesus believes that there are many more plans than just "A". Let's become people who can, with God's help, be curious and creative about B-Z.

Jesus said... "You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. You're blessed when you're content with just who you are–no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought. You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat." Matthew 5:1-6 (The Message)