When Life Does Not Go as Planned

When Life Does Not Go As Planned

Do you ever feel like your life is nothing how you thought it would be? That nothing has gone as planned. You made long-term goals and short-term goals, some voluntarily, some by force of a homework assignment.

Ten years later you look up and life is nothing how you pictured it in your naive, young adult mind.

Your husband is not Matthew McConaughey and your children are not perfect angels. Maybe you had an unplanned pregnancy. Maybe you had twins and you only wanted one more kid. There are no magic house fairies to pick up all the toys in your house and clean the dog hair and plan, shop, and prepare dinner, so your house does not look like the cover of Southern Living. Maybe you thought you would have two kids, a dog, and a cat by the time you were 30. Maybe you planned on never having kids, but then life threw you a curve ball. Perhaps your plan was to climb to the top of the corporate ladder and instead you find yourself sitting at home surrounded by little people, pea stains on the wall, color marks on your floor and toy cars and books strewn all over the place, with the theme song of Bubble Guppies or Dora the Explorer stuck in your head. There is still leftover food on your table and your Christmas tree is starting to turn brown.

The above picture may be anything but idyllic. Whatever your plans may have been, you find yourself looking around and realizing that life did not exactly go as planned. 

Is that really a bad thing, though?

When I was in college, I had dreams and goals, some small, some big. Some of them came true, others have yet to come true, and still others I no longer want to come true. I thought I knew what I wanted when I was 22. I realized, not too long ago, in my wise age of 35 (insert sarcastic tone), that plans do not define you and that is okay. I have new dreams and goals now and I suspect they may change again.

Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher said, “The only thing constant in life is change.”

We can’t change our past, and we can’t always change our circumstances, but we can change our attitude and how we choose to respond. One of my favorite prayers comes from American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” 

My life does not look completely like I thought it would. I thought I would love my career; I thought I would be a better housekeeper and a better wife. Those dreams and plans do not define me. I am more than a plan. I am an imperfect person living with imperfect people in an imperfect world. Just today in my MOPS meeting, we watched a video by Amena Brown. She stated, “We need darkness and light, together.” We cannot have all darkness and we cannot always have all light. It is because of the darkness many times that we come to know and appreciate the light. Through change and darkness, upset plans and broken dreams, we come to know goodness and love.

If your life looks different from what you pictured years ago, know that you are not alone in this world. Life plans and goals are great to have, but know that they will not and need not stay the same.

Life does not go as we plan. And that is where we find beauty and love and life. 

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