I am a planner and a list-maker, working best with a routine so I know what to anticipate next. I learned it from my mother as she wrote and filled notebook after notebook with menu plans, budgets, and schedules. Those days that go according to plan, I feel triumphant, fall into bed tired but proud.
Those days are rare.
In our active home, there are always the things I didn't plan.
I didn't know I'd wake up at 3am, a cough that wouldn't let me sleep but even more a burden to write and so I would begin my day tired.
I didn't know baby would wake sick too and want to spend the day in my arms, a faithful and sweet companion but it makes mopping the kitchen floor tricky.
I didn't know a friend would have her 6th baby and now I would need to finish getting that gift together and a meal made.
I didn't know that my daughter would find the "-all" word family so difficult to master.
I didn't know about that the leaky basement and loads of wet towels to wash on top of it all.
It is easy for me to feel these are interruptions to my plan. The excuse then for a short fuse, feelings of incompetence, and the wish to go back to bed until I can wake up to one of those perfect days I have planned.
But instead I've been realizing these are not the interruptions to my life, but the very stuff of life. Writing my heart, comforting the sick, welcoming babies, teaching the difficult, managing an old yet beloved home ...this is the world God has given me. And it is all those moments that give the opportunity for love that I forgot in my plan. That is the difference between my plan and God's direction as it says in the Proverbs, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." He wants the day to be about giving and loving; I had the silly idea it was about perfection.
I am seeking a free heart this Lent:
not attached to so much stuff, so we've been busy de-cluttering;
not attached to easy comfort, so we've fasted from alcohol, meat and sweets.
And now I've realized not attached to my own agenda, letting God determine the steps.
Frances De Sales writes,
"A heart that is free
Is the close companion
of a peaceful soul.
A free heart is one
that is not attached to its own way
of doing things,
That does not become impatient
When things don’t go its way.
A free heart will surely enjoy
But is not dependent on them,
And will, to the best of its ability,
Accept troubles in their stead.
A free heart is not so tied
to a schedule or a way of praying
that any change is upsetting
and a source of anxiety.
A free heart is not attached
to what is beyond its control.
A free heart prays to God
that his name be hallowed,
that his kingdom come,
that his will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
For if the name of God is hallowed,
if his kingdom is in us,
if his will is being done,
a free spirit need not concern itself
With anything else."
Jesus does not promise a smooth life according to our own agendas, but does promise that we may learn from Him and find in His gentleness and lowliness, a burden light.
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.