Friday, April 13, 2012

Making Other Plans

When I was first in counseling back in 2009, I took note of the little sayings and posters on my counselor's wall, things that he had thought were worth putting "out there" for his clients to see.  One of the first ones I noticed was a little hand-written piece of paper tacked up over a bunch of other stuff. It simply said, "Today is a good day ... unless I make other plans."

Of course, I was slightly offended.  In my victim mentality, life was something that 'happened' to me.  I felt that I didn't choose the awful things that I went through, that I was still going through in many respects. The concept that I could choose anything about my own life was foreign to me.  I honestly believed that I didn't have the right to have a life, much less choose anything about it.  I was more into trying to influence what happened to other people, not myself.  

As I learned how unutterably powerless over other people that I was, how insane my life was by trying to exert power over them, and how to begin to unhook from that compulsion to fix, rescue, or otherwise control or manipulate others to give my own life meaning, things started to change.  Especially inside of me.  I can't explain HOW it happened; I just know that things started to change, once I gave that whole mess over to God and let Him take charge of this process.  My attitudes changed - over time to be sure - but they changed nonetheless.  

The change was almost impossible to notice from the outside.  But I could feel something going on where it mattered most to me - on the inside. The very act of letting go ... of letting others be who they were and bear the consequences of their own choices ... began to have repercussions on what I perceived was "happening" to me.  This was not something I had the strength to do on my own; it still isn't.  

But as I sought to turn my wants and my life over to God's care, choice after choice after choice presented itself to me, each with its own challenges that made it feel like I was starting from scratch all over again.  Discouragement was around every corner, especially if I slipped back into old ways of thinking and started to behave as I once did without even thinking about it. I'd catch myself doing it and berate myself!  What kept me from giving in to discouragement so often was my counselor's reminder that at one time, I wouldn't have given it a second thought, just run roughshod over my loved ones' feelings so I could have my own way.  This was different.  This was progress.  This was growth.  

I finally came to understand that yes, today was a good day, unless I had decided in advance that it wasn't going to be.  If I made up my mind that this was a bad day, it would be, and I wouldn't see the good that happened even if it reached up and slapped me in the face.  This mind-set of negativity, in essence, was "making other plans."  So, my focus slowly shifted. It happened seemingly without any major effort on my part; it was like I was being empowered to see things differently.  The energy I once drained from myself by overseeing other people's lives, was no longer wasted.  I no longer became the target of the enemy's darts by setting myself up as the guardian of my loved ones.  I let God assume that role - I had usurped it before.

With that energy restored to me, I found that I could focus on other things - like choosing to enjoy life, or looking for the good.  That's a way of life that is so much less stressful.  

Now, when I catch myself stressing over this or that thing, I might spiral down a bit, but the process makes me dizzy in my spirit - and I am aware that I'm making other plans again.  The solution isn't always easy - but at least I know there's a problem.  And with His strength, I can make that decision to let go, to relax, to trust God.  I'm continually amazed at how He is so much better at managing my life (and my loved ones' lives) than I ever was.  

And I'm so grateful.

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