by Annette Bridges. ©2008. All rights reserved.

How have I planned my life? Oh, let me count the ways …

I had a plan for where I would go to college, whom I would marry, when I would marry, how many children I would have, when I would have my first child, the second child, and so on. I’ve had a plan for every day of my life. From the time I wake up until the time I go to bed, I have a schedule and a to-do list. And each task on my to-do list has its own detailed plan of action.

But I’m not finished yet.

I make my Christmas gift list months in advance. In fact, I worry about everything months in advance.

Every vacation has had an itinerary and, of course, an extensive list of items to take along.

I’ve even made plans for other people in my life, especially for my husband and daughter. I don’t think I’ve ever made a move in my life without a plan or without probably two back-up plans to boot.

Admittedly, not all my plans have worked out in the exact way I have planned them. But my solace has always been, “Well, at least I had a plan.”

I’m not saying that having goals is bad. Goals certainly have their usefulness. But I’ve been wondering recently if I could have used more meandering in my days gone by. Or, at least, perhaps I could have set up fewer boundaries or directives for the possibilities of my life. I’ve concluded that my vision for my life has had way too many limits as well as blinders.

Part of my problem with being a planner is illustrated by how devastated I have been when a plan has fallen short, when I’ve been unable to handle the unknown, or when I haven’t been flexible enough to grasp a plan that wasn’t my own.

But, no more!

I’ve begun to see that God has a plan for our lives that has an infinite design. And within infinitude, there can be no limits, no boundaries, no restrictions, no inadequacies, and even no defined specifics. That’s right.

I no longer feel that God has one specific plan for my life. I just don’t believe God thinks in terms of human details. Why would He? Or could He? God’s view of His creation could only reflect His own nature. And there are no limits or lack in the infinite Divine. So, there surely can’t be any with what the Divine creates.

What does this mean for me now?

I’m not saying I’m ready to be a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of girl. But there is some appeal to that idea. I want to be more open-minded about my future and what choices I make. In fact, I want to have days when I have no list whatsoever in front of me. I want to go on a trip and have no idea what I’m going to do on any given day. Actually, I would love to take a trip and have no map, no compass, no headings and no familiar landmarks. Just head out and go where the wind blows, as they say.

You really don’t know how radical these thoughts are, coming from a long-time planner like me. My family may get worried to see this change in me. I’ve just come to believe that perhaps the greatest plan is a plan that anticipates and looks forward to surprises.

I suspect that surprise may be one of the most special outcomes of maintaining an infinite point of view — one that is always ready for any possibility and ready to seize unexpected moments and opportunities. I can only imagine how happy such a life would be, to be surprised each morning at the beautiful sunrise — whether a cloudy or sunny day. I’m trying to imagine being delightfully surprised with each phone call I receive — no matter how many times my phone rings each day. Or being gracefully surprised by each and every event in my life — not being daunted, overwhelmed or exasperated when every detail doesn’t pan out the way I had envisioned.

I look forward to no longer being such a compulsive planner and to being more spontaneous and open for all the infinite possibilities in every aspect of my life and each moment of my life.

So, my friends, if you’re going to plan, be sure you plan to be surprised. That’s my new plan!