Now that I got your attention, hang tight.
My homework assignment awhile back was to do a Strengths finder quiz. It was like a personality quiz, and the options I had to choose between were the following:
“I have a written plan for my life.”
“My life is day by day, focusing on my lifestyle rather than planning it.”
The answer was obvious as to which option best described me. I have everything written out, planned and perfected to the point where it is predictable. Lack of routine and predictability makes me tense, sad, and irritable. That being said, I do everything in my power to fill the voids.
So far, this pandemic has been extraordinarily predictable.
(Yes. You did read that right).
It’s true. Nearly everything that relates to the pandemic has been predictable. From the school closings, shelter-in-place orders, stock market crash, face mask rage, Florida-Free-For-All, campus outbreaks, to civil unrest. I keep picturing God sitting in the clouds watching us implode with frustration at how we haven’t overcome racial prejudices. I see him rolling his eyes and muttering, “I know. Did you guys seriously not see this coming? What other time would pride and prejudice be exposed than during a national quarantine?”
Don’t get me wrong- I'm human. I’m frustrated too. But you have got to appreciate how rhetorical that last question is, and how obvious it seems when we take a step back and look at the situation from a broader lense. It almost provides some sort of comfort in knowing that we should have seen this coming. We should have been prepared. We should have had a plan.
Should, should, should.
I don’t like to focus on the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s of life’s curveballs.
(I hope you just laughed, because that was a joke).
Just kidding. I LOVE focusing on the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s. If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that all of this material had to have come from somewhere. Well, my friend, it came from a lot of overthinking about situations that did not go as planned.
At first, I liked the pandemic. School (at a minimum) took 2 hours of my day, rather than a whole day. I suddenly began to understand how single mothers can take online courses, work full time jobs, maintain their individual lifestyle, all the while succeeding in each area. But then, it began to get old. The planned predictability began to get old. Although my days were completely planned and based on quarantine-routine, the plan was making me restless.
Everyday, in bed by 10 p.m. Everyday, awake by 9:30 a.m. In the shower by 9:45, and out by 10. Dressed, hair dried, caffeinated and on zoom by 10:30. Homework done by 4. Find something to do in the house because, yes, shelter-in-place was enforced by my local police department. God forbid I ran out of things to do.
After finals were completed, I did run out of things to do. Hollywood was on pause, so there were no new Netflix series. I took extra long showers (to the great annoyance of my younger sister) just to kill time. Then I started embroidering. YES- embroidering.
I heard so many of my friends and family saying things like, “Life isn’t supposed to be like this. We need a vaccine. We need things to go back to normal.”
Of course, they meant the complete standstill that resulted from the quarantine. But now I realize that it means much more than that. It means that what we think we need isn’t always healthy for us. For me, this was a thunder-clap-from-Zeus-reality-check: We aren’t supposed to have a planned pandemic. More specifically, I am NOT supposed to have a planned pandemic at my fingertips.
But I clearly did. I had been living a plan that was down to the second, minute, and hour of every day. So when anxiety took over my body like anesthesia, all I could do was submit. Game-Theory isn’t at play here. After all, it wasn’t like I could go outside. Or go anywhere for that matter. I couldn’t run or hide from the anxiety this time. I was forced to endure it.
That’s when I remembered the Strengths finder quiz.
I realized that I have it planned, and I’m not supposed to.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” - Jeremiah 29:11.
How are we supposed to have a hope and a future if we are constantly planning? I don’t know. The gold letters on my planner even say “Be Still.” How can I be still when I’m planning, plotting, predicting and anticipating? The truth is, I can’t. Yes, planning helps me feel less anxious and more in control. But like all things, it’s never good to do (or have) too much of something. That “something” for me is planning. The option “I have a written plan for my life” best describes me, but it’s also a wake-up call that I am not the planner of the master calendar. I don’t even have access to the master calendar. I’m not supposed to make the plans, God already did. And once I realized this in respect to the pandemic, it made me relax a little more and breathe a little easier.
Hopefully it did for you too.
All the Peace,