Sunday, April 29, 2018

Trust the Path

I am a planner. I like to make a plan and stick to it. Whenever my husband and I take our kids somewhere I always have a plan in my mind of how everything is going to work. Before we leave I'm making a mental list of whether the kids will be hungry, tired, grumpy, etc. and what we will need to pack or talk about ahead of time to make the outing a success. I like to plan ahead for my day by making a To Do list. I like to plan ahead for my week by making a meal plan for each meal. I love calendars and have a big one on my fridge where I write everything down so that I know what each month will look like. I like to think ahead to a new season before it comes and write down some things that I'd like to accomplish during that season and things I'd like to enjoy as a family. I love organization and structure and knowing what is going to happen next so that I can anticipate needs and gear up for whatever energy level they will require. I have always felt that having a plan is better than not having a plan. I'm not good at dealing with things on the fly and tend to make bad decisions in the moment if I haven't had a chance to think things through. Maybe someone else can relate to this.

This need to know what is going to happen next affects all areas of my life. When I watch a movie or TV show I am constantly trying to predict (in my head of course) what is going to happen next and where the writers of the show are going with it. I love foreshadowing and am always looking for hints of what is to come.

Just like with TV I tend to try to figure out God's plan for me before it happens. I like to think about past events in my life, figure out why they happened and then use that information to guess where God is going with things. But God doesn't work like TV or a good book. He may use foreshadowing as he guides us through life but we almost never understand it until after and most of the time his plans will still not make sense to us at all. In Isaiah 55:8 it God says "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," and I have come to realize that this is so true and that I need to stop trying to guess what he is thinking and doing because I'm not going to figure it out.

Last year Matt and I had been trying to decide if we should have another baby or not and I found this decision to be incredibly difficult. I was not having clear feelings either way and kept going back and forth about what would be best for our family. During the months of making this decision I kept trying to predict what God was going to do with this and would always end up frustrated because I couldn't understand or decipher any sort of plan. I had so many ideas of why God was giving me the feelings I was having or why certain things happened the way they did but none of it turned out in a way that made any sort of sense to me.

During the summer I read the book "Looking for Lovely" by Annie F. Downs. In this book she uses the phrase "Trust the Path." She talks about trying to control things in her own life and the metaphor God gave her one day as she was hiking and started to lose track of where she was. As she began to panic she realized that if she just continued to follow the path she would surely reach where she was supposed to go. She just had to trust the path maker instead or relying on her own instincts of where she was and how far she had to go. This illustration really struck a chord with me because I realized how much I like to rely on my own plans and intuition instead of just walking the path that God sets out before me and trusting that he has a good plan for me. I realized that instead of trying to be one step ahead of God all the time I needed to learn to follow behind and take my cue from him. At first this seemed so scary but soon it became clear that this way of living reduced so much anxiety and overwhelming feelings of responsibility. It is so freeing that I don't always need to know what will happen next and am not even supposed to know or be focused on that. All I need to do is stay in touch with the good shepherd and follow where he leads and then trust that the path he has me on will take me where I need to go.

This realization has been something I've really had to hold on to over this past year especially as I ended up getting pregnant with our third child. Don't get me wrong, we are super excited for this new little one but it is also overwhelming at times to think of going back to the baby stage when our youngest is almost 4 already! Everything in my feels that I need to control everything about how this will go but as I plan I can't seem to come up with anything that will make things go perfectly or smoothly. This whole third kid thing is going to be tricky no matter how much I try to plan ahead. I've written down the words "Trust the Path" and have them up in my room to remind me multiple times a day that I need to trust God's path and not try to make my own. It is a struggle but as I learn to let go I find a new kind of freedom and peace.