Living in the Headlights
Change showed up at my door one day. Uninvited. I’m not one for mixing things up. My favorite answer to the question, “What’s new?” is “Nothing.” I don’t believe the only constant in life is change, nor do I think that the more things change the more they stay the same. I’m content with my routine. When I want a little variety, I rearrange the furniture or sit in a different chair. I like predictability. I like plans. I do well with a calendar.
Then Change arrived. My routine, my predictability, my plans — gone. I didn’t know what was ahead. Not in a cosmic, no one knows the future sort of way, more of a wow, there’s a whole day yawning ahead of me that I have to fill. An oh, I have spent too much time alone lately I better fix that. A hmmm, wonder when I’ll get a paycheck again kind of thing.
I’m a planner. I don’t do spontaneity. My jobs have always involved planning, looking ahead to the next thing, outlining the steps to get there, anticipating problems, fixing them, getting everyone and everything ready then doing it, while simultaneously looking ahead at the next thing.
My calendar is full of plans. Page through to several months from now and there are notes to myself about a future activity and how it can be done better or reminding me not to forget something. I plan and I organize and I implement and then start all over again.
Then, thanks to Change barging in uninvited, the plans were gone. Poof!
When asked what I’ll do next, I did not have an answer. It was more than a question mark shaped future. It was a wall of darkness shaped future. I could not see past it. I believed there would be a beginning to follow the ending that Change ushered in. I just could not plan for it. I lived in a state of uncertainty but life kept moving.
I was reminded of the headlights on my car. Plunging through time at 60 miles per hour with just 8 feet of illumination, leaves me about 5.5 seconds of visibility. Things keep moving but I can’t see far enough ahead to plan. I know the future will arrive but I don’t know what it will look like and that scares me a little.
So I lived in the headlights for much longer than I felt comfortable and I learned a few things. One, I don’t like not knowing. Two, I cannot live that way alone. I found myself going to Mass several times a week. It was something I could plan and it opened my heart to what God wanted to do. Being with the Lord helped me learn to surrender to Him. I learned radical trust because I had no answers.
I realized that trusting is more than just saying “Jesus, I trust in you.” Trusting God is an action as well as a statement. If I trust God, I will not let fretting about the future get the better of me. I will acknowledge it and cast it aside, knowing that God has it covered. Some days I do this multiple times. Some days I slip into the worry hole and have to claw my way back out.
I learned to open each day with a prayer of thanksgiving and an offering of the day to Jesus. Instead of trying to discern His will about the rest of my life, I learned to funnel it down to discerning His will for that day. I tend to live too much in the future so I practiced living in the present.
Living in the headlights was hard. It was hard to cede control. It was hard to be patient. I was not sure how the story would end, but I learned much along the way. Now that I can look back at part of it, I can also see how God was working and it was for the best. I can be grateful for it.
When Change came I was mad. Now I am thankful. Because of what happened (and did not happen) I grew closer to God and learned about trust. I learned that God has a plan for me. I am not just left to wallow in the 5.5 seconds of light. He tells us in Jeremiah 29:11,
I learned to believe those words and trust that He will reveal the plan to me when the time is perfect.
If Change comes in uninvited and unwelcome, it is a chance to lean on the Lord and when the time is just right, enjoy the beauty of His amazing plan.
Copyright 2019 Merridith Frediani
This article was originally published at CatholicMom.com and is shared here with permission.