When the Plan Doesn’t Go According to Plan

Don’t get your hopes up, because your plan probably still won’t ‘come together’ as you think it should but now you can start enjoying HIS plan…and HIS plan has always ‘been together.’ Here’s a little background info about me: I was a TV kid. I was weaned on the milk of those wonderful ’70s sitcoms and family shows. Every morning was spent with “Captain Kangaroo.” The afternoons brought “The Flintstones’ or “The Brady Bunch.” Evenings we gathered around the tube for “Happy Days,” “Laverne and Shirley,” or “Mork and Mindy,” and Saturdays were filled with “H.R. Puff ‘n’ Stuff,” “School House Rock,” and “Speed Racer.”

These days, television isn’t fit for families, so my kids have to settle for old “Dick Van Dyke” re-runs, but in the good ol’ days, most of what I learned came from those wonderfully-simple shows. I was thinking about one of those ’80s shows just recently–not so much about the show but about one of the lines used in most every episode.

Let’s see how good you are. The show was kind of a good guy/bad guy, man show. There were lots of explosions and a big battle at the end of the show. There was a crazy guy named Murdock and a gold-necklace-strewn, muscle man named B.A. Baracus’ (BA stands for Bad Attitude) whose only line seemed to be, “I pity the fool who messes with me.”

You guessed it! The A Team . . . but Mr. T’s line isn’t the line that I’ve been pondering lately. It’s the one that Hannibal uttered right before the battle scene. “I love it when a plan comes together,” he would say with a big stogie hanging from his mouth.

He said what we feel. We like it when our plan comes together. We like things nice, neat, and orderly—and with predictable outcomes. And while that plays out nicely on television, the honest truth is that most of the time our plans don’t come together. Instead, our plans too often fall apart, disintegrate right before our eyes, and leave us dumbfounded and stunned.

I’ve talked to plenty of homeschooling parents who were sold a plan. They followed the plan and then later stood before me with tears in their eyes because the plan “didn’t come together.”

“We did everything they said to do,” they muse.

“We didn’t have TV . . . we homeschooled . . . we ate organic . . . we only wore dresses . . . we sheltered and protected . . . our kids played the violin . . . we emphasized the classics . . . we never missed family devotions . . . we emphasized purity . . . we birthed our children at home . . . we had a home business” and on and on the list goes. They feel betrayed, angry, and lost.

I have to admit that several years ago when I heard their sob stories, I inwardly wondered what they had done wrong. I believed that they must have gotten the wrong plan–or didn’t carry the plan out according to the instructions. And while some of that may be true, I know now that sometimes our plans don’t come together because God has a different plan.

For us it was simple in those early years. Our children were young (and easy to control), the pressures of life were few, and we were optimistic–and naïve. But the years rolled by, the children got older (and not as easy to control), the pressures increased and suddenly we felt like our best-laid plans were unraveling a bit.

The things that my wife and I were so sure of when we started this parenting journey, we now found ourselves at odds with, wondering if we were sold a bill of goods or wondering what we did wrong to mess up the plan. We firmly believed that if we did things the ‘RIGHT way,’  we would get the desired results.

We assumed that if we controlled our children’s lives and influences and removed all ‘obstacles/temptations,’ we would avoid all the heartache and struggles so many parents seem to encounter. But guess what? GOD had a different plan.

Oh, to be sure, we made lots of mistakes . . . big ones, but I’m more and more convinced that homeschooling, parenting, marriage, and life doesn’t always go according to our plan. That’s not to sound hopeless; I believe it is part of God’s design to keep us close to him. We wouldn’t need HIM if all we needed was a good plan.

So what are you to do when your plan doesn’t pan out? What are you supposed to do when your child chooses things you wouldn’t choose, dislikes your likes, likes your dislikes, has friends you don’t like, wants to date instead of court, go to college instead of apprentice, apprentice instead of go to college, or work instead of either? What if you don’t see eye-to-eye with your spouse, and your children think you’re a big kill-joy?

First of all, go to your room, get down on your knees and thank God for HIS plan and relinquish your plan. Ask for wisdom in seeing your family members as part of HIS plan and not as enemies who messed up your plan.

Dad and Mom, our job is to walk the path on which God takes us and learn what He wants to teach us all along the way. We get so uptight about the change in plans that we quit enjoying . . .  everything! We don’t enjoy our home, our children, our mate, or our life. How life would change if we would just acknowledge the fact that God knows what he is doing and that HE may be doing it a different way–a better way than we ever envisioned.

I know that’s the case in my life. If all had gone according to my plan, I would have missed out on the lessons I’ve learned–er, am learning–about loving unconditionally and weeding out all the junk in my life that I never knew lived there. If only my plan was involved, neither I nor my children would have learned all they have about God, His forgiveness, and what it means to wrestle through to find His will.

After you’ve prayed, get off your knees and begin a new plan (one that God will probably change as well). Stop lamenting the fact that your old plan didn’t work out like you wished and start from where you are right now. If your daughter wants to like a boy, talk to her and come up with something that works. If your children hate the classical style of learning, try something different. If your husband doesn’t like dresses only, then go buy a pair of pants. If you’re tired of having babies the natural way, ask for an EPIDURAL! It’s about going forward–not looking backward.