There are things that are naturally hard for us. And we can go with the flow and get pushed backwards sometimes, or we can fight against those challenges to get where we need to go.
I took this video of salmon in a fish ladder last summer when we were vacationing in Oregon and Washington State. On our way from Oregon to Washington, we stopped at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River and got to see the fish swimming upstream. In the video, you can see that sometimes they seem to be making great progress, when all of a sudden the current overwhelms them and they are pushed backward, only to have to do it all again (see especially the little fish starting at about 00:12).
I think–and this may be wildly inaccurate–that we face certain tests in this life over and again until we can pass them.
For me, one of those tests I keep failing and retaking has to do with changing plans.
For some reason, I am terrible at this. If I make a plan–even if it’s just in my mind–I intend to follow through on it. Now, I’m quite forgiving of myself. See, today I was planning on doing some little chores around the house–vacuuming and dusting and so forth–but I’m not doing them today because I had a headache earlier and I’m on my period and I can do them tomorrow. I’m so very flexible with myself.
But when my plans have to change because of other people, I am less forgiving. And if I know you well enough, like my poor DH, I may get angry or at least frustrated about the change in plan. I’m really terrible.
And the truth is, sometimes plans change. Definitely more often than I’d like.
Once, a few years ago, DH was really sick. Now, he is a boy, so “really sick” for him is maybe or maybe not the same as “really sick” for me. But anyway, he stayed home from work and was certainly not feeling well. We were living in Arlington, VA, and were supposed to go that evening to an event to see Elinor Ostrom speak. She won the Nobel prize in economics in 2009, so I suppose this was in the fall of 2010. I went to work and DH stayed in bed. And then, after work, I went to see Ms. Ostrom speak, as I’d planned.
DH didn’t appreciate my going. He thought I should have come home and taken care of him instead. And maybe I should have.
I don’t like it when plans change.
I didn’t like it when our plans to get pregnant two years ago did not come to fruition. I was concerned something must be wrong within the first few months because things weren’t proceeding according to plan.
But I’ve noticed this problem I have. I’ve made enormous strides with all the plan-changng and rearranging we’ve dealt with in our IF treatments. And I’m trying to get over it. I handled our move to College Station and, shortly thereafter, to Katy quite well considering that both moves were not according to our plan. I’m evolving and maturing and getting good at this whole plan-changing thing!
And isn’t it funny that when you think you’ve mastered a new skill a little, tiny, insignificant test comes along and you fall flat on your face?
This morning, I was running a little behind what I had planned. I did my grocery shopping, albeit about 2 hours later than I’d wanted to leave the house. I’d created a to-do list that would have been completely doable if I’d not been behind but which would be tight now that I was late. I was sitting on the back patio reading my Bible study workbook for my small group tomorrow night, nodding right along as I read, “Complete obedience to God requires a commitment to modify and change our plans at a moment’s notice,”* when my phone rang.
Now, DH never calls me from work. But here it was, 12:07 p.m., and our conversation went like this:
ME: Is something wrong?
DH: No. I was wondering, could you take my car for an oil change this afternoon?
[He had switched cars with me this morning to avoid driving many more miles before getting the oil changed.]
ME: Oh. Really? I thought you were going to do it. I don’t know…
DH: I found a place. I can make an appointment. It’s right by the house and it’s much less expensive than anything I can find near the office. You can do it tomorrow. Or, well, any day this week. Does any time work for you?
ME: I wish you’d told me earlier. I mean, if I’d known, I would have taken it before I went to the store. Now I have other things I’ve planned to do . . . whine . . . whine . . . [You get the idea.]
DH: Never mind. I’ll do it myself tomorrow. Thanks anyway.
I turned back to my Bible study and reread the paragraph I’d been reading when he called me, “. . . a commitment to modify and change our plans at a moment’s notice,” and I knew I had failed this test . . . again.
I did end up getting the oil changed. But I was so whiny about it, and I made it such a chore. I suppose I should be glad I was able to redeem my failure and that this test was just a little thing.
I’m still learning.
And that evil, current still gets me backsliding when I least expect it.
*Quotation from Priscilla Shirer, Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God Speaks, member book (Nashvile, TN: LifeWay Press, 2006), 112.