Recently, a new friend said to me, "Your life is not your own." She was referring to the fact that our house was for sale, and we were subject to the schedules and whims of potential buyers. True, enough, but she had no idea how pertinent that statement was soon going to feel.
In theory my plans for the next weeks were feasible. I planned to be at home for 4 full weeks after frequent St Paul-Madison trips. During the hiatus at home a friend and I were going to put into motion plans to start a circle for women facing major transitions in their lives. I had just started participating in an online class about blogging, which felt a bit intimidating. I had a few home projects and writing projects to restart, and I intended to reconnect with friends.
I was determined to start enjoying summer.
Change of Plans
Can you hear a quiet giggle in the distance? Do you recognize the sound of a "behind the hand" chortle? When was the last time you made plans, big ones, meaningful ones, ones that meant something to you, a turning point, a step forward, and then you heard a cackle, a snicker or snigger, even a snort that turned into a genuine belly laugh? "You forget, my dear, your life is not your own, and I have other plans for you."
My father needed surgery. The surgery he had in May did not work, and he was in terrible pain and he made the decision to have it done again. The surgeon was available, and the date was set. Soon. Now. Not quite three weeks before his 90th birthday.
Off I went, tossing plans for what I thought was my life into the nearest wastebasket.
We had already wisely cancelled our plans for a fall vacation. knowing we would need that time to move my Dad into his new senior living apartment. Instead of spending our usual long summer weekend in Door County, we travelled back and forth to St Paul for one necessary reason after another. Summer was escaping, but we hadn't. And never mind that the house had not sold and the main plan, the really big plan, of moving had not come to fruition. All that time devoted to keeping the house clean every minute of every day was for naught, it seemed.
I say all this not to elicit sympathy--although empathy would be welcome, but instead as a reminder that "Your life is not your own," and to ask you to consider what that means.
A New Voice
I was frustrated and irritated, but I was also scared. Worried for my father, yes, but also wondering if I had what it takes to be there for him. Really be there.
Finally, I sat in the stillness and allowed myself tears, but then breathing deeply and returning to my own rhythm, I heard whispers. No taunting titters. No voice crowing "Plans? That's what you think." The words were the same, "Your life is not your own," but this time they were a lullaby, a nurturing oasis of love and calm.
I thought of the words from Isaiah 43:
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
Because you are precious in my eyes and honored and
I love you.
Dad's surgery went well, but we won't know for awhile if it is a long term success. He is not experiencing pain, however, and for that we are so grateful. Yes, my plans changed then and have continued to change. Actually, I surprise myself with my flexibility.
I am grateful for the fullness of choices in my life and the ability to respond to change, but at the same time I hope I can rest a bit more contentedly in the knowledge that my life is not entirely my own.
I invite you to share times when you were aware of your life not being your own. What did you learn from those times? When is that awareness shadow and when is it light? What helps you get through those times when you need to respond to life changing in front of you?