One of my favorite lines is “if you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.”
Too often we make the mistake of believing we are in total control of our lives, that if we carefully plot a dotted line and follow along, we will arrive precisely at a predetermined destination. Life, we like to tell ourselves, is a linear equation.
Then it isn’t.
Recently my daughter, after planning of her college timeline, found out firsthand how life can throw you a curveball. In her case, she saw an especially nasty knuckleball arriving over the home plate.
She’s not alone. Unexpected life changes happen to a lot of people. And learning to deal with unforeseen changes is a part of life. One day we learn to appreciate we are only in so much control of our lives. How we deal with the changes, however, determines what happens next.
The doctors have told our daughter she is going to have to live life on a different pathway going forward. Not a dead-end road, but one where her choices will be more complicated and requiring making more educated decisions about her health. Life, but different.
But the good news is how our daughter is embracing this as a challenge, a medical condition she is completely throwing herself into, learning and consuming large amounts of complicated information in a short window. For some reason, God selected her to place on this pathway, apparently believing she is the right person for the journey. No victim here – she is merely figuring out what the best road forward will be to her.
In football, the quarterback after looking at the defensive alignment makes what is called an audible – that is changing the plan to adapt to the circumstances. Doing so allows his team an opportunity to make the best of the situation in front of them. And as in life, learning to call an audible is a critical skill. Nothing is forever nor is will circumstances play out exactly what we expect. Life requires both strength and flexibility. Being upset by changes beyond our control is nothing but a fruitless fit of wasted energy.
Maturity comes in lots of shapes and forms. Learning to successfully deal with both good and bad news and appreciating we are only in control of life to a certain degree all contribute to our to maturity. We can set up all the plans we wish, but we must always be aware life can change in an instant.
I believe we are caretakers of our life and those around us. And in life, my responsibility is to work to live my life and serve others to the best of my abilities. But I also understand God has a plan for everyone – including me and those around me. To expect a steady diet of easy-to-time fastballs is unrealistic. My job is to take care of the daily details but always be ready for the knuckleball.
And as for my daughter, I am confident she will hit this one out of the park.