I am a daydreamer, but I am not a long-range planner… I am learning this more and more as I interact with folks who are. Folks who can tell me their plans for the next five years, very specific plans and details for themselves and others. I am not that person. I have laid the groundwork to graduate come May (Praise Jesus!) and have applied to the step after that — but that is it.
I realized the other day that I was feeling really anxious. I had been listening to the plans of the long-range planning folks who had then turned their questioning to me, where was I going to live next summer? What are my long term career plans? Relationship plans? I wanted to answer that I am a grad student –I work on a day at a time basis. The “If it weren’t for the last minute nothing would get done” kind of school strategy. But this is not to say that I just have an unthoughtful approach to life — nope, it’s purposeful. I look for my “next best thing.”
I cannot take credit for this thought process. It is the product of a conversation with my mom where she suggested instead of trying to plan out every step along the way, that I ask myself, “What is my next best thing?” That has been revolutionary for me. I do not have to know what I am going to do five years from now, not even five months from now. I do need to make sure that I don’t make choices that close doors or burn bridges that I will need later, but otherwise, there is a freedom to my movement.
Dare I suggest that there is a Biblical element to this? Please don’t hear me suggesting that we don’t need to plan or to save up or to lay down the pieces for future goals — I obviously do not believe that is the case, or I would not have made it this far in grad school (A process which requires planning). I am instead suggesting that it is a Biblical approach that holds life loosely, where I do not assert that I can control the events of my life is such a way that I could plan them out super far in advance. I never would have guessed I would be called to seminary, so that event in itself reminds me that I cannot plan out the way the Holy Spirit will move. Proverbs states,
“Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring.”
I believe that there is humility in holding plans loosely, in acknowledging that I cannot predict where the Holy Spirit will move, and I want to be open and ready to listen to that movement. I believe that I can pray and move toward my “next best thing” and trust that there will be some nudging when the time comes from my next “next best thing” decision. I trust the Holy Spirit. And I trust that I will continue to be led to people and places I could have never planned, nor even imagined, for myself. And if the past has been any indication, the Holy Spirit has nudged in greater directions than I could have ever hoped to plan for, and for that, I am exceedingly grateful.