Last week I went to Women's Conference at BYU. The keynote speaker -- Ruth Todd, a former news anchor here in Utah--was not one I was particularly excited about. I was sure it'd be adequate, but I wasn't think 'This will be life changing' -- which, by the way, WAS what I was thinking about the closing speaker, one of my favorite religion teachers at BYU (and btw, his walk WAS amazing too).
So I was sitting there listening to her talk and taking a few notes. Most of it was good, but nothing earth shattering. But then she said something like this:
"Each of us has a right to search for the life God has planned for us"
These keywords struck me.
The right to search.
And what am I searching for? A life that God has planned for me.
I'm a planner by nature. I want to plan it all out. I always have my life planned out at least 5 years. And I have goals for the next year. And a to do list for today. And a calendar with appointments booked. It is my way.
But this planning, forward thinking nature, comes with a downside: always looking to the future. It is hard to live in the moment when you always have your eyes on the horizon looking to the next thing (and I have great things planned.). So I work so hard to reach my goals and then care barely stop to take a breath and enjoy them when I get there. It's like I'm climbing a mountain to see the view and I reach the summit and barely stop to take a glance before saying "Well it's time to head back before it gets dark" and then grumble about my sore hamstrings the whole way down.
Sheesh. That is no way to live your life.
Sore hamstrings are fine and all, but at least enjoy the view you worked so hard for.
I knew I needed to slow down and enjoy it a bit more, but I wasn't sure how to turn off that planning, forward thinking part of myself that is so ingrained in who I am.
Then, when I heard that phrase at women's conference it was like a light bulb lit up above my head.
I have the right to search. To take my time and search. It's not just that I don't need to have it all planned out; but--in fact--God designed this life to be one where I search and figure it out as I go along. It is supposed to be that way.
It was like I had seen my current life as a sort of "pre-life". That Joe and I were working hard to get out of debt, to get our careers established, to buy a home, settle down and finally live our lives. And this pre-life stage was taking longer than I had planned. I was irritated and getting restless to start the rest of my life. Then I decided to go back to school which further pushed by our house buying settling down plans and uh-oh, tacked 2 more years onto this seemingly never-ending pre-life.
And then I had this revelation. This life I'm living is not pre-life. This is my one and only life. It is a meandering path I'm on. I'm not searching for the path to the rest of my life, I AM ON IT RIGHT NOW.
I've trusted God to know where I am and where I'm headed and to guide me in the decisions. So I just need to relax. He's never let me down. He's guided the big decisions and it has always turned out just fine. Even better than fine. Opportunities have come that I, in my little mortal planning pro and con list making ways could never have anticipated. But he can anticipate them, he can see the big picture and he can guide me when I need to make metaphorical right or left turn in my life. I don't need a road map, I just need to see a little ways ahead and trust God to act as navigator, he's proven to be a reliable one.
So I'm taking my foot of the gas pedal and relaxing for a moment. I have sketched out plans for the future, but they are labeled with a big fat "subject to change" sticker. I know what we're doing for the next two years -- it's grad school up at the U while Joe works and Evie keeps on growing up. That's our plan for now.
I feel calmer. I feel more peaceful. I feel like I can see my whole life before me and I don't know what's going to happen but I know that it's going to be good. And I've been given the right to search for the right path, and I know God will help me. It's not just all going to be okay, it's going to be great.
And I don't need to obsessively make 5 year plans (and back up plans, and to-do lists and back up to-do lists) to make it happen.
I can just live in the moment and enjoy my happy little life.
And like most life lessons, I wish I'd figured this out a bit sooner.