Sunday, August 08, 2010

The Well-Planned Life versus The Summoned Life

To understand the rest of this post, you need to read this editorial (don’t worry, it’s pretty short).  Since many of you won’t go to the link, let me give you a quick sum-up: some people plan their lives and then live their plan while others make life decisions based on what is happening at the moment.  Now, don’t you want to go read the article to find out what the author really said, instead of reading my summary?!

I was living the Well-Planned Life for many years.  I went to college with the plan of going to medical school.  Then, I went to medical school.  I knew that I wanted to marry eventually, and I did (although I certainly couldn’t plan who I was going to marry very early in life since I didn’t meet him till I was in college!).  I did my Family Practice Residency and then started in a group practice.  All according to plan.

And then God turned my world upside down.  In the last five years, I’ve been completely off-plan.  I’m living something more like The Summoned Life.  I don’t have a long-term plan for too much because I really can’t make those plans.  I don’t know how I’ll feel tomorrow, much the less next week or next month.

Is one of these kinds of living better than the other?  I don’t think so.  I would have to say that we all fall on a continuum between the Well-Planned Life and the Summoned Life.  Control freaks like me will tend to plan everything, and it may work out well for lots of folks.  Fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of people will fall more on the side of The Summoned Life.

But, being too committed to one or the other can be dangerous.  A person who naturally lives The Summoned Life would still do well to have a savings account and retirement plan.  There are areas of life that they will need to be more organized about.  Those who tend to the Well-Planned Life need to have enough flexibility to change plans if that’s what God sends their way.  Illness (migraines, in my case), changes in the business landscape, or natural disasters can all send them back to the drawing board in terms of planning.

Reading this little article helped me to see that my life has changed from being largely The Well-Planned Life to The Summoned Life.  I still make plans, such as curriculum plans for the kids.  However, I’m much more flexible than I used to be.  And the flexibility shows up in more than just changing schedules because of migraines.  Allowing Wild Man to go with his Grandma across the country required some emotional flexibility on my part.  Learning ways to minister to others outside of medicine has been another thing requiring me to step outside of my plan.

It’s finding the right balance between planning and being flexible that’s the challenge for me.  I’m still tempted to try to plan to the last detail.  Yet, I’m finding joy in the spontaneity of homeschooling.  I would have to say that now I make long-term goals but short-term plans.  And those short-term plans change regularly.

For example, I have a long-term goal of teaching Wild Man to spell.  The short-term plans include my plan for his spelling curriculum and having him evaluated for vision therapy.  Rosie Girl’s high school plan is quite flexible and we change it yearly, but I make a weekly plan that she is expected to follow.

Where do you fall in this spectrum?  Is it fulfilling for you or do you wish you could move more to the other side?

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