Change of Plans

bicycle shadowThe plaque in my friend’s living room reads, “Life is what happens when you’ve got something else planned.” Some days that is so true.

One night a few months ago it was my turn to cook dinner. My wife was teaching an aerobics class until late, so I was in charge of the evening meal. My plan was to prepare a chicken casserole, but I needed a few more things from the grocery store. Lucky I’m a multitasker, I thought. I put the chicken breasts on to boil and ran out to get the few items on my list.

I could have taken the car. It was right there in the driveway. Instead I chose to ride my bicycle. I figured I could make it the three miles to the store and the three miles back in the forty minutes it would take the chicken to cook. And I’d get a workout in the bargain as well.

I was half right. I arrived right on schedule. It was the flat tire on the way home that threw off my plans.

It was one of those picture postcard days. Not a cloud in the sky. And after ten days of hundred degree weather, it was in the mid eighties. Great day for a ride. Or a walk.

Did I mention I’d left some chicken boiling?

I prayed as I walked home that someone in a truck or an SUV going in my direction would see me and offer to help. After all, I am walking a bicycle instead of riding it. That would be something people would notice, I thought. But it seemed like a selfish prayer, so I didn’t pray very hard. And no one stopped.

It’s a lot further home pushing a bicycle than it is riding one.

This wasn’t what I had planned today. You’ve had days like that, too. The day you wrecked your car on a slick street. The day you lost your job without warning. The time you got hurt in ways no one else could see, but you felt to your very core. The night you finally admitted that one of your kids was using drugs. Or the terrible Sunday when you got the call from your sister that your mom had died.

Those sorts of days can change your life forever. And they definitely weren’t part of the plan. Some of us respond by drinking too much or cursing or hurting someone else with angry words to cope with our own pain. I know people who have tried to put all their pain into a little room off the kitchen in their mind, only the knob seems to rattle in the dark and the door pops open from time to time, causing the contents to come spilling out. A few have given up on God completely in answer to all their pain. In the end, what we usually want is for all the hurting to stop.

I made it home before the chicken burned. It was very well done, but it still worked in the casserole. You or someone you know wasn’t that fortunate. The change in plans cost them a lot.

My setback only involved some overcooked chicken, so I didn’t really feel a need to talk to anyone about it. Your disappointment might be too large to contain if you attempt to keep it to yourself. If so, I encourage you to do what you need to do in order to make life manageable again. Try talking to a friend. Or going to a group. Maybe see a pastor. Or visit with a counselor.

What did you have planned today? How did it turn out? And how will you respond?

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