The Opportunity in Plans Gone Wrong

In that moment – that odious moment of foul odor and horror – I better understood Proverbs 16:9:

The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.

It was warm and we were late. Abigail coughed and cried and we rattled off a myriad of reasons why. Mom attempted to soothe her, and I drove on, according to the plan. We were to pick up Zach and meet my stepdad for lunch. We parked and I emptied the passenger’s seat.

On the way to the trunk, I stopped to open Abigail’s door and offered the binkie. Abigail grasped my ace in the hole, and then, it happened.

I will spare you the gnarly details; but, if you must know, just ask. The sight and the smell are fresh on my brain as the dog poop in my backyard. And the incident does not involve poop, if you wondered.

Off came her spoiled clothes and out came tissues, wipes, paper towels, and lysol wipes. As I comforted a stinky baby, I wondered, are we still on schedule? Should we go home? My afternoon plans are ruined anyway, I thought. I’ve got a new task: taking apart the carseat for a scrub-down. (Which is not an easy task, if you wondered.)

I thought of countless other times my plans were ruined and my schedule readjusted. After twenty-three months of motherhood, I’ve learned to roll with things. To be flexible. And, recently, to see the opportunity in plans gone wrong.

Today, as we put Abigail in a sweatshirt and did what we could with the carseat, Proverbs 16:9 flashed across my brain. Until today, that verse always made me feel a little wrong for making plans. Aren’t plans wise, and aren’t I allowed to make good plans with God in mind? But then I understood. Making plans is not wrong, but when they fail, God is there to guide me through the disappointment, the frustration, and the heartbreak. Even when plans succeed, God sees to it that I continue as I should: reliant on Him. Essentially, I need God every step of the way, and a plan without God is inevitably aimless. I make plans, but He gives them purpose. (Or rearranges them with purpose.)

For a planner such as me, any disruption can undo me. Though I was happy to comfort my daughter and make everything okay with the help of my own mother, I still wanted to have lunch. I still wanted my afternoon plans realized. Yet, I chose to praise God it wasn’t the flu. I recognized a perfect opportunity to clean out my car, which was on my list anyhow. I decided to roll with it instead of getting down and out.

I decided to let God direct my next steps in a well-intentioned plan gone awry. I let Him work out His own plans in my heart, which is always the main point anyway.


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