Life Mantra | When Plans Go Awry
For the past 3 years my morning routine has included time with God. For about an hour every morning our two dogs and I curl up in our favorite recliner with my Bible, a spiral notebook and whatever devotional book I happen to be reading at the time.
This hour is an anchor in my day. No matter what the remaining 23 hours may bring, this practice begins my day in a way that’s both routine and extraordinary; routine because every day is the same, and extraordinary because every day is different. I never know what I’ll learn about myself and the world around me in that hour, but I always learn something.
The book I’m currently reading is A Trip Around the Sun: Turning Your Everyday Life into an Adventure of a Lifetime, written by two pastors: Mark Batterson and Richard Foth.
I’ve been reading Mark Batterson’s books for almost a year now, and this summer I even had the opportunity to visit the coffee shop that was founded by his church in Washington DC while we were traveling for our primary company’s annual convention.
Today’s chapter was on one of my favorite topics: Collect Experiences, Not Things.
The interesting thing about experiences is they rarely go exactly as planned.With just enough factors outside of your control, you could always be a mere moment away from your next big adventure.
As a person who’s about as “Type A” as you can get, you can rest assured that my experiences [and every other aspect of my life] are always meticulously planned out. Our vacation itineraries could give the world’s best travel agent a run for their money… and that’s just the way I like it! That being said, experience has taught me it’s the unplanned “extras” that often prove to be the most memorable.
A couple of years ago my husband and I spent 3 weeks in Europe. We travelled to London, Paris, Rome, Santorini and Athens, and… true to form… I had every day planned out right down to the excursions, the meals and even the outfits. It made for a very nice, *almost* surprise-free trip. We saw everything we wanted to see, never felt unsafe or unsure of where we were going, and had a wonderful time. Even so, one of my favorite memories from that 3 weeks wasn’t planned at all:
For our stay in Paris we rented a beautiful flat with a roof-top terrace over looking the Seine and the Eiffel Tower. Each night we shopped at the nearby market, cooked in our very-Parisian kitchen and had dinner on the roof. It was magical. For our last night in Paris we’d made reservations at one of the oldest restaurants in the city. I donned my favorite cocktail dress and Rob put on his suit, but as we prepared to leave our flat it became apparent that we were both missing what would be our final opportunity to have one last meal on the roof of our flat.
On a whim, we cancelled our dinner reservations and purchased tickets for a late-night show at the Lido on the Champs Elysees. Still in our fancy clothes we walked a few blocks to the neighborhood market and picked up dinner, stopped by a wine shop for some French Champagne and, of course, made a stop at a little Patisserie for some dessert.
We cooked and ate and had an amazing evening on the roof of our flat before hopping on the Metro and arriving at the Lido just in time for the show. For an evening that was completely unplanned, things had gone remarkably smooth.
By the time the show was over it was well past 1:00am, and we emerged to find the Metro system shut down for the night. Initially, I panicked. How were we going to be back to our flat? I suggested we try walking down to a busier part of the street and attempt to hail a taxi, but the weather was beautiful and after a little prompting from Rob, we agreed to walk “home”.
My feet were aching, courtesy of the new shoes I’d bought for my dress. So with my shoes in hand, and with Rob’s jacket over my shoulders we set off down a street we were confident would lead us to the river, which would in turn lead us to our flat. The city was quiet… the normally busy sidewalks empty… and lo and behold the mile and a half walk, barefoot down the streets of Paris at 1am became my fondest memory of that week.
This story came instantly to my mind this morning as I was reading, and I felt compelled to share it with you. And I felt like the lesson God was trying to teach me through this memory was this:
We won’t always know how to get where we’re going. Sometimes we won’t know where we’re going at all! And when that happens we have a choice: We can choose to view these detours as something scary to be avoided, or as adventures to be embraced. And when we look back on life’s detours, they may just end up being some of our best memories.
I’ll never advocate attacking life without a plan. Just the thought of that makes my eye twitch! But I absolutely will advocate this: When plans don’t go the way you planned, choose joy… choose gratitude… choose a confidant expectancy towards what’s coming next, even when you don’t know what it is.
All of life’s detours won’t turn out to be a barefoot walk down the quiet streets of Paris… and believe me, we’ve had our fair share of bad detours! But even the detours that appear to be not-so-good in the short term have the potential to become your life’s greatest lessons and to lead you down a path that’s infinitely better than what you could have predicted.
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