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Episode 74 - Things Don't Always Go As Planned


I’m going to be real honest and tell you I’ve been struggling putting this week’s episode together. As I frequently do, I already had a focus in mind. But recent events have really made me think a little deeper on this topic.

Last week I mentioned one of the 5 Givens in life, and that is that everything is going to change; nothing remains the same. So, I thought I’d go back and in the upcoming weeks cover the other four Givens.

The 5 Givens are based on the book Five things we cannot change: and the happiness we find by embracing them by David Richo. As you can see in his subtitle, he believes that we are most happiest in life when we understand that these five things are unavoidable and are applicable to all of us. And what are the Five Givens in Life? They are that…

1) Everything changes and everything ends

2) Things don’t always go as planned

3) Life is not always fair (but it’s beautiful. God is both good and fair.)

4) Pain is part of life

5) People are not always loving and loyal

I was prepared to focus on the second “Given” today: Things don’t always go as planned. David Richo says in his book:

“We make plans expecting to be in control of what will happen. Perhaps we fear natural happenings, things turning out contrary to our wishes. We are challenged by the random events of life that seem to have a mind of their own to let go of having things come out our way. The unruly Givens of life are permissions not to be perfect, and to flow into the natural chaos of life.”

He gives an example of a young woman who aspired to become a dancer in Hollywood films, but was in a serious car accident that prevented her from ever dancing again. In her long recuperation from her injuries, she used the time to sing along with the radio and developed her singing voice. She was then hired to sing in a band, and later found parts in movies, changing her name to Doris Day - The famous 1940’s singer and actress. Her original plans were thwarted by a tragic event. But because of this, she found her true life’s calling.

In this case, the things that she had made plans for didn’t come to fruition. But, that was okay because it set her off onto the true path she was to be on.

But let me tell you why I’m struggling so hard with this idea today. Just a few days ago, one of my dearest and closest friends had a tragic and unexpected loss in her family. Her daughter was to give birth to her first child. And just two days before her due date, she found out that the baby she had carried for 40 weeks, the baby who was found to be thriving and doing well just the day before at the doctor’s appointment, was no longer alive. No heartbeat.

She had plans to bring home a beautiful, healthy baby girl. Instead, she will be making plans to lay her baby to rest. Things don’t always go as planned. And again, David Richo believes that we are most happiest in life when we understand that these five things are unavoidable and are applicable to all of us. And I disagree. Wholeheartedly.

Why? Because just because we understand that there are horrific things that happen in life, that there’s always change and nothing stays the same, that things do always go as planned, that life is not fair, that pain is a part of life, and that people are not always loving and loyal, it doesn’t mean that we are “most happiest” in the knowing.

And perhaps what he means, ultimately, is that we’re most resilient when we recognize and accept this. I think I could get behind that thought.

I can also get behind that belief that the things in life, especially the things we didn’t plan and the ones that bring us great pain, are the very things that make us grow in ways we otherwise never could. With compassion and tenderness, and insight and trust, with inner strength and calm peace. But that certainly doesn’t mean we welcome the pain or even the opportunity for personal growth.

I know this to be true in my own loss.

Your finding peace when things don’t go as planned is shaped by your theology. Whether you believe that things randomly happen in life because we live in a fallen world and God has no say in what does or doesn’t happen (but that He’s no less sorrowful about it), or that, yes, these bad things happen but God is the one allowing them for a particular and pointed purpose, at some point we have to come to acknowledge and accept that bad things do happen, things don’t always go as we planned, and this is part of living. I’m not saying that’s easy, by any stretch. It’s not. In fact, it’s the greatest challenge I think you’ll ever face: Reconciling your loss with your theology and learning to live out what you believe. But somewhere in there, it is possible to find stability, solace, and peace.

I was just looking back at a study called In The Middle Of The Mess by Shelia Walsh that I started doing just a few months after Brian died. It was so difficult to even consider that I was ever going to be okay, or that life was ever going to be okay. I wasn’t even looking for “good.” I was just hoping for “okay.” But after chapter one and writing out all that I was afraid of facing, I couldn’t even move on to chapter two. Seriously. I didn’t even finish that study. And maybe because part of her formula to healing was to “Revisit the experience”, and I was still too close to the experience. I was already revisiting it every day, every hour, every minute.

Here’s part of what I wrote then: “Sometimes I feel like my mind is going to break. And at other times I feel a resolve that this is my life and I’d do well just to accept it and move on in it.” Things didn’t go the way I had planned. In fact, I often laugh at the plans we made for our lives together when we were first married. We were going to do this, and go there, and buy that, and then have this many kids, and then just when the time was right we’d build that and live there and do all the things that made us happy with all of our grandchildren. I think of that young 23-year-old girl with so many dreams, and so much innocence and naivety. And not that that’s bad. In fact, I think hopes and dreams are the stuff life is made of. But on the other side, I know now that things just don’t always go as planned.

And so, then the question becomes, how do you move forward and move on in it?

I’m going to give you the simplest answer: I don’t know. Seriously, I don’t know how I moved forward. But I know what I did do. I laid my weakness at the foot of the cross and cried, “Jesus, help me.” The rest is not something I can explain. Which brings me to the conclusion that Jesus did it. He helped me. He propped me up, soothed my gaping wounds, put my shattered heart back together, and taught me how to put one foot in front of the other in order to move on in it. I did nothing but just be there and let Him.

So, friend, I guess that’s how you do it. And I would say that that’s how you do it any time things don’t go as planned, whether that’s big things or small things. You call on Jesus to help you. He will. And one day, like me, you’ll look up and won’t know how you’ve moved from point A to point B. But you did. And then you’ll realize one day you’ve made it all the way to point C and, maybe, are ready to make one giant leap to point E. You’re moving forward and move on in it, even as things don’t go as planned.

Friend, what have you experienced lately that’s altered or even crushed your plans? Whether that’s just a minor inconvenience or a tragic loss, if you’re having a hard time figuring out how to move forward in it, I’d love to help you. Through Life Coaching, you’ll be able to feel confident in your decision making, trust your own inner voice, and develop emotional stability in order to take the next step.

I’ve put a link in the show notes to my calendar to book at 30-minute discovery call if you’re interested in finding out more about Life Coaching and how it could help you. Or you can visit my website and send me an email there.

Make this a purposeful week, friends. See you next Wednesday for the next episode of Another Beautiful Life podcast.

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