The first few chords of Jeff Buckley’s version of A Satisfied Mind, played solo on electric guitar, are peeking through the speakers of my iPhone – streamed from YouTube because I don’t actually own a copy of it and all I can think of is this one sentence I’ve said and heard said more times than I dare recount in the last few years.
“I had my whole life planned out.”
It’s a full stop kind of statement that comes out just after the rug of life gets swiftly, and often cruely pulled out from underneath our feet. It’s the kind of statement that expresses the deep set feelings of despair and confusion that we all experience when we feel like we’ve lost our bearings or, as my father would say – when you find you’re “up shit creek without a paddle”. When that relationship doesn’t work out, when that job doesn’t come through, when you flunked that paper at university or when your company goes bust.
I had my whole life planned, then plans changed on me… and now what?
Not so long ago I was washing dishes, in a conversation with a friend who had just gotten some “shit creek,” news. Long story short – the rug had been pulled out from underneath their feet, and they were left sitting in my kitchen, staring blankly out into my back yard with the same exhausted look I’ve caught on my own face many a time, saying those exact same words. Though I felt for them, genuinley – because I know what shit creek is like, and I know how much it stinks to be stranded up it, I stared down at my soap sudded paws cleaning up plates and forks and I couldn’t help but smile a little, knowing that very sentence would be the beginning of the rest of their life. Because when that comfy, neat and tidy rug gets pulled out from under your feet so swiftly, all you can do is lie flat-tack on your back.
All you can do is stop and take stock of yourself, and as inconsolable and rejected (because when it, whatever your “it,” is, doesn’t work – it really is a feeling of rejection) as you may feel when you utter those words, when you feel your planned life is being pulled apart at the seams, once you’ve spent a time mourning the loss of the life you once lead – you get to rebuild.
You get to take your hands of the reigns and trust.
You get to flourish in any number of skills and talents and gifts you mighn’t have ever bothered to come across had your “whole planned life,” worked out, and you get to weave those gifts and skills into the most incredible tapestry of a new life that you’ll get to live.
I’m all for hoping for stuff and I think making plans to get towards your hopes is one of the most exciting things. I’m planning to go to New York this year, I’m planning on having coffee with my brother tomorrow, I’m planning on editing my book and writing more songs… but in all my plans, I’ve come to learn that plans change, and that when they do – it’s okay.
It boggles my mind you know, it makes me feel like i’ve got internal fireworks going off in my head even to think about. I’m made by this God who is endlessly creative. A God who makes folks who dream up words like “hippopotomous,” and sneezes out glaxies, and in his creativity, he created me in his likeness – in his image. He fashioned me as endlessly creative. So that when that big old rug gets pulled out from under me, I get to start weaving again a new life, a new skill, a new relationship that wouldn’t have been – had the old not passed away.
There’s a beautiful passage in Revelation (google it)when God says “the old order of things has passed away… behold I am making everything new.” I think we can get easily hung up on the first part of that passage, that the old things – the things of today are going. One day I wont sleep in this beautiful room in Melbourne, and one day I wont work with the incredible people I get to work with; but I need to remind myself of the promise that is the second part of the story. That God , the God who loves you and I… is making everything, absolutley everything new.
I had my whole life planned… yep, same. But my God I wouldn’t trade what I get to wake up to now, for any of my past plans.