When I was in India with the Prodigal Project our team had it's very own beatitude. It was "Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be broken." We often said it jokingly, but it was a good motto, for one of the few things you can count on there is that nothing will go as planned. Seriously, a train ride that should take 8 hours might take 19, the electricity might go out just as you're finishing up a long email, getting your visa renewed might take the better part of 6 days, and trying to find a bank that can help you in a city of two million people could prove futile. But, if you plan to live in such a place for any amount of time you learn to flow with it; either that, or you spend your days in a state of extreme frustration.
When I was single it was a lot easier for me to "flow with it", but now that I have a home and family to care for I find myself clinging more tightly to "my" plans and being less flexible than I used to. A lot of this is for practical reasons; my kids do better when they have their meals and naps and bedtime at roughly the same time each day and I save time and energy by planning and shopping for meals in advance. While we're not strictly scheduled in our days, we do have somewhat of a rhythm and all do better when we don't get too "off-beat". There was a time, many years ago, when God was teaching me to submit my plans to Him and I was more aware- and more welcoming- of the interruptions that inevitably happened. Instead of getting annoyed when unexpected things popped up I was learning to see God's hand in them and more joyfully cooperated with His schedule for my days.
The events of the last few months have shown me that I've forgotten that important lesson God taught me then and when I was in India- I need to be more flexible or else I'm going to break. Back in July I was so excited as I was finally tackling some big organizing projects and working on menu planning, etc. I felt like I was getting on top of things in an attempt to run my household more efficiently and peaceably. Then I had a month of morning sickness. There went any extra energy- it was all I could do to barely stay on top of things, let alone get anything extra done! Just as I was feeling better and thought I could get back to my plans we learned that our baby had died. I was floored and understood that old saying "I felt like the carpet was ripped out from under me." After a week-and-a-half of waiting the miscarriage happened and I hemorrhaged, leaving me weak and couch-bound for at least a week. Well, on Saturday my week was up and I was feeling a lot better- not normal by any means, but like I could be up and around a bit. By yesterday my heart was pounding anytime I got up and my chest was tight. I talked with my friend Paula, a nurse, who's on strict bed-rest right now for complications with her first pregnancy. I told her how I was feeling and she gave me a long lecture, as only a best friend/nurse can do! She said, like the doctor had told me, that if my heart is pounding when I stand up I'm overdoing it and need to stop. She also said that if I don't then it will take me twice as long to recover and I'm not doing anyone a favor by trying do more than I should right now. And so on and so forth, et-cetera, et-cetera, et-cetera!
So it's back to the couch for me. (And the computer chair!) But, for now, no more getting up to get things, getting the kids dressed, loading the dishwasher, etc. I need to rest! Which means that on top of just the normal everyday things I can't do, I have to lay my other plans aside for now, and probably for a good while. I've been thinking a lot about Proverbs 16:9 which says "A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." It's okay for me to make plans and schedules for myself and my household, but they need to be submitted to the Lord, and I need to acknowledge His right to direct us differently. Then I need to keep my eyes and heart open to see what He has for me when things just don't go the way I thought they should.
His ways are so much higher than ours. I thought it would be good for me to try to get my home in better order and my kids into more of a routine; He thought it would be better for me to lay on the couch and be cared for by others. I thought it would be great when I was really on top of things; He wanted to bring me to a place of being unable to do anything. Could He be trying to show me how much I need Him and His strength by causing me for a time to be completely dependent on others? Wouldn't it be better for my kids if their Mama was the one to clothe and bathe and feed and play with them? I would think so, but maybe through this their Mama will learn something more valuable, something that will make me more like Jesus, and therefore a better, more loving Mama to them. There's something going on that's so much bigger than my plans and ideas, and I need to have my heart open to what that is. It's a hard lesson to learn, but I hope that God's purposes for us right now will be accomplished. And I hope that in the future I will remember this and remain a lot more flexible.