In the book Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott talks about a book she spent years writing, only for her editor to reject it not once, but twice.
On Thursday, I came upon this passage:
“I tried not to make any big decisions about how to salvage the book or my writing life, because the one thing I knew for sure was that if you want to make God laugh, tell her your plans.”
And then, this morning, I read my horoscope app and, get this:
“It’s been said that when human beings make plans, God laughs. No matter what deity you believe in, if any, you know very well that we are not in complete control of our own lives. You may now be working through a carefully constructed and highly structured plan. But you may run into an obstacle that will require a revamping of your strategy. Don’t stick with your plan out of stubbornness, for you will only be doing yourself a disservice. Be flexible and be open to new ideas and a new way of doing things—you can achieve success if you can bend.”
And from another message…
“Your inner soul-searching might lead to some nervousness. You won’t be able to solve everything at once.”
These messages hit me hard, because in all the transition I’ve been going through in my life (here, let me list it for you, because if I am having trouble keeping track, which I assure you—I am, I can only imagine that someone who isn’t living it can’t keep track either): grieving a lot of things from my past that I'd never grieved, getting divorced, living alone and learning how to take care of myself again, losing weight and figuring out how to keep it off while exercising and building muscle, becoming a believer in Jesus Christ, having a whole personality shift (for Pathways folks, that means I’m not a Relater as I had always tried to force myself to be… I’m Entertainer/Commander) and having more than a bit of an identity crisis… plus the fact that I haven’t yet been able to make any jewelry because I’m feeling creatively stuck—even paralyzed… taking up dancing again and learning how to let go through yoga and dancing… taking up playing piano again and having to basically relearn everything…
Yeah. You might say I’ve been going through some big changes over the last year. To say I’m starting over feels just a tad understated.
It’s overwhelming to think about. In fact, I’ve come across a few thoughts lately that are more than a little unsettling.
Why am I having such a hard time finding my way? It’s not like I’ve been going through cancer, it’s not as if I’m starving, it’s not as if I’m homeless or unloved or [insert whatever other truly disheartening, desperate, and downtrodden situation here]. I have a wonderful life. I am blessed beyond all my expectations, hopes, and dreams. So why am I feeling so confused? Why can’t I just shut the hell up and be happy?
How do I reconcile the plans I had in place for my life with my recent acceptance of Jesus into my heart and world? I want to figure out how to bring the divine into my life on a daily basis, in a way that makes sense for my heart and my soul.
I don’t feel right pursuing the plans I once had in place… they feel meaningless now. And yet, I don’t know what I’m supposed to be reaching for, either. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do next, in all the significant areas of my life.
I’m feeling lost and aimless, and I don’t like it.
How do I create new plans for my life that feel right and help me get closer to God in a way that makes sense for me? What does that even look like?
I honestly don’t even know what I want right now, in some ways. And even in the few places where I do have a picture of what I want, it’s fuzzy and foggy, and I’m not sure if it feels right yet.
It’s hard to just be, in this moment, when I am so uncertain of what tomorrow looks like. It feels like I should be spending energy on trying to create a picture for my tomorrow, my 5 years from now, and my 10 years from now… but 5 and 10 years ago, I never would have thought my life would look the way it does right now. I never would have imagined I’d be where I am in this moment.
So I have found myself asking, what’s the point in making plans at all?
A year ago I was married. I was unhappy in that marriage, but still—I was married. I fit in somewhere, with all the other married couples.
I made jewelry, and so I fit into the community of jewelry makers.
And over the last year, I’ve been dealing with so much grief and so much overwhelming change, that I’ve been in survival mode. On so many days, it was all I could do to just get through it and hope the next day was better.
And, I’ve realized a few things. I tend to pigeon-hole myself into survival mode, because I know how to function within it. I know it’s just about getting through the day, and embracing little pockets of joy when they come along, because they are fleeting. I know that with incredible change comes incredible growth. I know how to hang in survival mode… I know how to surrender in survival mode… I know how to totally let go of control in survival mode.
But, I’m out of survival mode now.
And I find that I’m struggling with letting go of control (yet maintaining what control I DO have, and where is that line, and how fine is it?).
I’m struggling with surrender, because I don’t know what surrender really looks or feels like when I’m not in the middle of some sort of transformative moment or a crisis of the heart.
Now, I am experiencing and learning new things. Now, I am discovering something new about what I want or don’t want, what I like or don’t like, and what I need or don’t need on an almost daily basis. This process is both exciting and terrifying.
It feels like I’m walking blindly through some un-named journey and I’m so focused on the outcome that I am having a lot of trouble enjoying this process of relearning who I really am, as God continues to mold me into the woman I’m meant to be.
Does anyone else struggle with this? Surrendering to this process of living a good, fulfilling life, and what that means… while trying to put plans into place so that you feel like you have some sort of direction… all while embracing the big and small changes that take place during this process?
I mean, I know it’s the illusion of being on control that has me spinning sideways right now. How do I surrender—and release that control, knowing that I am not totally in control anyway? And yet, how do I use the bit of control I have to find and fulfill the deep meaning I’ve been seeking in my life for so many years? What can I do to make my life feel more meaningful in every aspect—not just in my free time, but when I’m at work, when I’m driving, when I’m spending time with friends or alone?
I have a lot of big questions, and not a single answer...