Life is a funny thing.
We create all of these grand plans in our hearts and we can see them come to fruition in our minds eye. These images and hopes and dreams are crystal clear; we know what we have to do and how we have to do it to achieve our end goal. As human beings it’s in our nature to dream and hope and plan for a better future. What’s also in our nature is to get so caught up in that perfect world that we’ve dreamed up that we fall utterly apart if that dream doesn’t come true. I hate to be the one to say it, but more often than not our perfect visions for the future rarely turn out the way that we hope. I know this first hand and I’m sure that you do too.
What I have realised over the past weeks as my aspirations for the future have been an ever changing roller coaster, is that I need to stop holding on. I cling to the map that I’ve made in my mind of what my life should look like so tightly that my knuckles are turning white and the paper is crinkling and tearing. I’ve left no room for my plans to change and I would never dream of letting go of them completely; because that would mean that I am no longer in control and if I’m not in control how can I make sure that my perfect future comes true?
This kind of thinking eventually leads to a self-destructive cycle where you get angry and depressed because your plans didn’t work out the way that you wanted them to, because you never allowed room for them to change. It’s this ridged structure that strangles dreams because dreams are an ever changing and flowing idea; so not being flexible with how you achieve them is what will eventually kill them. So I’ve been practicing the art of throwing away the map…and by practicing I mean gritting my teeth and trying, and by throwing away I mean dangling the map out of the window but never really letting it go. It’s still a work in progress because I’m still a work in progress.
One of the great things that I’ve discovered over this ongoing process is that God has a funny way of working things out. I was initially supposed to leave for Germany yesterday (way back in my very original plans before I broke my ankle and all this craziness ensued), but instead of flying out to that adventure I moved into another one. Yesterday I moved in to a house and a position that helps women get out of the sex trade. While the German chapter of my life has to wait until later this year to be written, this brand new and unexpected chapter gets to be written right now. This is an amazing opportunity that I otherwise would have missed if I had gotten on that plane to Germany. I’m not saying that one it better than the other, what I’m saying is that there are still amazing beginnings even in the midst of what only seems like endings.
Throwing away the map is a hard thing to do. We all love to have control over our lives and what happens in them, and letting go of that can be extremely scary. It’s very similar to going on a road trip where you don’t know what your destination is, or what the roads are like, or where the next gas station is. In life we’re all just winging it, every single one of us. We can plan and prepare and map out every day and month and year of our lives, but in the end we have very little control over how it all plays out.
Why waste our energy and our sanity on trying to dictate and micromanage every aspect of our lives? There are so many more important things that we can be putting our time and energy towards than trying to strong-arm the future to play out the way that we want it to. There are relationships we can build into, people in need that we can help, and places that we can serve. I encourage you to start the practice of throwing away the map. Maybe you’re like me and it’ll take you a while to actually be able to let go it, or maybe you’re already there, I don’t know. Take it one day at a time, and if you need to one hour, or one minute at a time, whatever you need to do to start letting go of your need for complete control over you life.
Holding too tightly onto the plans that we have for our lives leaves no room for God to work. Allow for him to come in and take hold of your map and to let him navigate you through life; because his plans and dreams for your life are far greater than anything that we could ever come up with. Let go of the map, and step into the adventures that God has waiting for you.