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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Slow Learner

One of my favorite movie moments comes from an unlikely source.  For the most part, "Evan Almighty" is a cute but forgettable comedy and certainly not the stuff of legacy.  But there is a moment in it that lives with me.  God (played brilliantly by Morgan Freeman) tells Evan that, like Noah, He wants him to build an ark in preparation for a flood.  Evan, who is in the midst of running for political office, tells God as nicely as he can, "that's not really in my plans."  God chuckles in a soft, kind way, then says, still laughing, "I'm sorry.  'Your plans.'"

As I said, I don't remember much of anything else from this movie but this moment rang so true to me that it reverberates.  I see God as benevolently looking down on us making our plans, big or small, and lovingly shaking his head.  Fully aware of the incalculable discrepancies between the perfect, solid blueprint He has drawn out for our lives, since before we were even conceived, and the strange, haphazard Tinker-Toy structure that we keep trying to plot out for ourselves.

I know this.  I know the best place to be is in a flexible, loose space with God, waiting to see what He has next for me.  I know it's best to keep my plans penciled in, ready at any moment to replace them with the plan God has for me, for that day, week, life stage, whatever.  I've lived in that space.  But it takes work.  A LOT of work and discipline.  The moment I forget to start each day grateful, prayerful, and open to God's plan for that day, I begin a slippery descent into old habits.  Into pulling out the legal pads and binders to plot and plan the future to a degree of precision that gives me a solid (entirely false) sense of security.  To setting those goals and then doggedly pursuing them with laser-like intensity.  Until God throws a monkey wrench in the whole darn thing.

My plans were not bad in and of themselves.  They involved lots of running, a handful of races including a full marathon in December, and continued increase in my overall physical fitness.  Beyond that, there were thoughts of what life would look like a year or two from now, when my little ones started public school.  There was a change of location thrown in there as well, a move to a more desirable zip code.  They looked like pretty good plans to me.

Then God threw the curve ball.  He shook my snow globe, as He is apt to do, and I discovered that I was, very unexpectedly, pregnant with another child.  The next part of this I am not proud of, but in the interest of transparency, I'm going to be honest about it.  I was less than thrilled with this news.  A bit tearful in fact.  I looked at that plus sign on my home pregnancy test and cried.  Not because I don't think children are gifts from God; I know they are.  Not because it was the end of the world; I knew it wasn't.  But because it was the end of my plans.

It's embarrassing, really, because I know better.  I know God's plans are always the best plans.  I know so many friends who would rejoice at the sight of that plus sign with shouting of hosannas and hallelujahs to a God who had blessed them.  I knew I was being an ingrate.  But even in that knowledge, I didn't stop.  I felt like I was doing "better" than I did with the news of Baby Girl's pregnancy, which took me a week or so and a missing heartbeat to get out of my selfish moping and into gratitude.  I was mostly happy about it, after all.  I was putting on a good face, shifting my plans accordingly.  But I was also grumbling.  Just a little bit and mostly in fun, but grumbling nonetheless.  Zipping up my size 4 skirt with a sigh, mourning the impending loss of my skinny body.  Cursing the fatigue that made my daily tasks in raising my children just that much more difficult.  There were plenty of moments of smiling and daydreaming as well, thinking of names and nursery themes.  But these were all peppered with an underlying complaint:  This was not a part of my plan.

God doesn't ever let me get away with anything for long.  For that I am grateful and I believe it is a direct result of my own desperate, sincere wish to live in harmony with Him and His will no matter what.  He doesn't let me go along on cruise control, getting steadily off track as I do so, for even so much as a month.  First I begin to feel the side effects of separation... the grumpiness, the irritability, the general blah-ness that can ultimately lead to depression if I allow.  Then, finally, He has enough and He hits me with the big guns.

Last Thursday night I began to have abdominal cramping.  On Friday it was worse and other symptoms of miscarriage joined in.  It is amazing how quickly I went from not really wanting this pregnancy to praying that I would not lose it.  From mourning the fact that I could not run to willingly lying down for hours with my feet elevated.  From hoping I didn't get too fat to praying that I could just get this baby to term.  Sometimes your perspective changes so quickly it gives you whiplash.

The scare seems to be over.  I am hopeful that this was an "attention getter" and nothing else.  A way for God to get me to set aside my selfish grumbling and enter into the joy of the blessings He is offering to me.  But beyond that it is an overall reminder that I am not in charge of this vessel.  I'm not charting the course, I'm not in control of the wind, the waves, the setting of the sails, none of it.  I am hopeful that this will be a happy, healthy pregnancy that results in a happy, healthy baby but I need to be surrendered to the fact that I am a passenger on this journey.  I need to place my trust in a perfect, all-knowing, all-powerful Captain, relax and enjoy the ride, whether it takes me into peaceful waters or a tsunami.  I know all of this so I need to start putting it into practice again, grateful for a God who perpetually teaches and is infinitely patient with this slow learner.