May 16, 2020

Unplanned

If you know me, you know that I am a planner and organized to a fault. I actually keep four calendars, one wall calendar each for home and work and two honest-to-goodness paper calendar/planners, one for personal use and one for work. It used to be my habit to get up each morning and check my planner because every day was different. Was there a baseball game? Was it away or at home? Would we have time to eat at home, or would pick something up? Maybe you can tell that I’m not one of those people who flits happily through life without a care. Type A and with some OCD tendencies, I was always prepared, always put-together. But I was also always on the road, driving to the next activity, hoping I could fit it all in. I was stressed. Every time one of my kids’ baseball practices or games was rained out, I would feel a little guilty at the relief of having one less thing to do.

If you had told me three months ago that life as I knew it would change in such a way that I would have to erase everything in my calendar (thank goodness I wrote most of it in pencil!), I would have said you were crazy. At first, I thought that certainly things would be back to normal by Easter because Easter isn’t something you write in pencil. It’s Easter! Yes, Easter still happened, but it was surreal. No crowd of children around the floral cross? No Hallelujah chorus in the chancel?

James 4:13-15 says, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow… Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’” I feel like this verse is a neon arrow pointing at my head. Planning isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not everything, and I now realize how little control I have over my own life.

Of course, life has always been this way. As James reminds us, anything can happen at any time, and COVID-19 has put that in perspective for me like nothing else could. I have no choice but to work and school my children from home, and I mourn all we’re missing, yet I cherish those things I didn’t even realize I was missing before—talking to my kids about any- and everything on our nightly walks, meeting and befriending our neighbors, observing all the amazing wildlife around our home, and weekly family. While I wish it hadn’t taken a global pandemic to make these changes in my life, I know it would be a terrible shame to ignore these unplanned gifts.

I pray every day that I’m not the only one who feels the need to change, to slow down this frantic pace I’ve been living. While I never for a moment believe that this is God’s judgment on us—that we need to change or face the consequences—I do believe that we’re none of us perfect and that the opportunity to reflect and appreciate and make a change should not be wasted.

Written by Sarah Cotchaleovitch

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