When Plan B Is Good

She had a plan. It was a vision of perfection. Warm water. Loving husband. Calm, quiet midwife. Natural birth. It was a good plan, one that has worked thousands of times. For others._DSC0466

Have you noticed that life on planet Earth does not always go as planned? Sometimes we must go to Plan B. It’s hard to relinquish Plan A. It hurts. But there comes a point when we realize that what we’ve been doing just is not working. We come to a place of decision.

From behind my camera lens, I observe her as she approaches that point. Frustration bursts from her lips as tears threaten in her voice.

“I want to go to the hospital,” she concedes. “I just can’t do this anymore. It’s not working. I’m worn out.”

It wasn’t working. There were reasons for the difficult labor, good reasons for going to the hospital. Kind Husband agreed. Wise, Gentle Midwife agreed. Exhausted, Brave Mommy gave up her perfect dream and went with Plan B.

Life is just like that. We have plans. Hopes. Dreams of perfection. When they don’t work out, sometimes we try to force them, pushing, breathing hard, bearing down on those around us – trying to control people and situations. Trying to create facades of “perfect” that aren’t true of our realities. It’s laborious.

Only when we meet denial in the mirror and look him in the eye can we say, “This is not working. I’m exhausted. I can’t do this anymore.” And that’s when our Kind, Gentle Jesus takes us in His arms and says, “It’s okay. You don’t have to. You have worked really, really hard. But it’s time for you to relax and allow Me to take over. I can get you where you need to go. Will you trust Me?

Melodie Beattie writes, “For those of us who have survived by controlling and surrendering, letting go may not come easily.” She says sometimes we even have to get to the point of saying, “’I don’t want it. I realize it’s important to me, but I cannot control obtaining that in my life. Now, I don’t care anymore if I have it or not. In fact, I’m going to be absolutely happy without it and without any hope of getting it, because hoping to get it is making me nuts – the more I hope and try to get it, the more frustrated I feel because I’m not getting it.’

“I don’t know why the process works this way,” she concludes, “I know only that this is how the process works for me. I have found no way around the concept of letting go.

We often can have what we really want and need, or something better. Letting go is part of what we do to get it.” The Language of Letting Go p. 215-216

God invites us to trust Him with all of our hearts, rather than trusting our own logical plans. He promises that He will direct the paths of our lives, if we will do that. It’s difficult to let go of Plan A. Even when Plan A hurts, when it is draining, when it’s not working out. I know. I hung on to my Plan A marriage for a long, long time – hoping, praying, pleading, begging, working on it from every angle imaginable, until I was limp with exhaustion. I had to let it go. Only when I opened my clenched fists and released it to God, was He able to begin working miracle after miracle to redeem the things I thought were lost.

Witnessing this sweet, young mother struggling to give birth, I connected with her when she gave up her Plan A. I saw the transition. She let go. She stopped fighting, stopped pushing, stopped forcing something that was beyond forcing._DSC0834

Then she took another kind of action, refusing to mourn long the death of her beautiful birthing center dream, she quickly prepared herself for the hospital. Looking forward, not backward, she bravely embraced the wheelchair, the bright lights, lab-coated physicians, IV’s, and epidural, (especially the epidural). Soon she birthed a handsome, healthy boy. With him at her breast, the candlelit birthing pool was far, far from her mind. Plan B was good.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
(Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV)

Are you trusting Him today?

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More Questions Than Answers

IMG_0381“It was SHE. Whoever has loved knows all the radiant meaning contained in the three letters of this word ‘she.”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

I cried in front of the 2% milk at Walmart on Tuesday. I live a vegan lifestyle, but was trying to locate the evil buttermilk among shelves of other milks and milk-wannabes, when my phone rang and I it was she. She whose name I cannot say aloud without strange constrictions in my throat. She whose voice is changed with the passing of too much time since we last spoke. She who is now in the sixth grade and who I have not held since she was three. It was SHE.

There in the milk aisle, while looking for soured milk (which I only purchase at holiday time because my once-a-year Texas Pecan Praline recipe calls for it) my heart did that funny little skip thing that it does whenever she calls. Should I take this, or let it go to voice mail? Swallowing hard I stopped right there in front of twenty kinds of milk behind a glass door and answered my phone, “Hello Sweet Girl! How are you?” in my cheeriest godmommy voice.

Eight and a half minutes later, after talk of school and new ipads, Thanksgiving and “yam pies,” we said goodbye. I asked her what she needed, how I could bless her with a gift, but she didn’t know. She couldn’t think of anything. Nothing at all. So we ended with, “I love you,” and “Call me again when you think of something.”

And then I cried. Just a little. It gets easier each year. She was almost mine once. And I’ve never forgotten how I loved her. Still love her. But she has a different family, a big happy family who lets me love her from afar. Who allows me to be “godmom” and “Mrs. Clause,” (when she can think of something for me to give). It’s a long, long story. A chapter I haven’t quite finished writing because it’s just too hard to find the words, or the answers. But, like my sister Ami said in one of her Facebook posts this week:

“Sometimes life is more questions than answers. And that’s okay. Sometimes the answers are in the silence. And that’s okay. Sometimes you need to be told that everything will be okay, even when that okay just means things will be different… Sometimes you just need a hug or another cup of coffee…morning ramblings from the cornfield.”

I guess that’s it. Sometimes life is just more questions than answers. And there is only ONE who holds all of those answers in His nail-scarred hands. I know that one day, He will tell me why. For now, I choose to trust Him, believing that He redeems the things I thought were lost. For now I choose to “hang on loose” to this girl I love too much to let go of completely.

In her book The Language of Letting Go ( p. 94-95), Melody Beattie, attaches the name detachment to this loose kind of hanging on. Here’s what she says: “Detachment is a key to recovery from codependency. It strengthens our healthy relationships – the ones that we want to grow and flourish. It benefits our difficult relationships – the ones that are teaching us to cope. It helps us!

Detachment is not something we do once. It’s a daily behavior in recovery. We learn it when we’re beginning our recovery from codependency and adult children issues. And we continue to practice it along the way as we grow and change, and as our relationships grow and change.

We learn to let go of people we love, people we like, and those we don’t particularly care for. We separate ourselves, and our process, from others and their process.

We relinquish our tight hold and our need to control in our relationships. We take responsibility for ourselves; we allow others to do the same. We detach with the understanding that life is unfolding exactly as it needs to, for others and ourselves. The way life unfolds is good, even when it hurts. And ultimately, we can benefit from even the most difficult situations. We do this with the understanding that a Power greater than ourselves is in charge, and all is well.

Today, I will apply the concept of detachment, to the best of my ability, in my relationships. If I can’t let go completely, I’ll try to ‘hang on loose.’”

What about you? Would you like to choose trust today? Ask Him to show you how to hang on loosely when you really just want to weep, right there in the grocery aisle.

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.” Proverbs 3:5-6 The Message