Post Originally Published May 12, 2016 – updated November 18, 2019
It doesn’t matter who you are, there comes a day when plans go wrong and spin out of control. It’s guaranteed! When it happens, how should we respond?
I love it when a plan comes together. ~Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith
Did you ever watch the A-Team back in the ’80s? I always looked for Hannibal’s line at the end of the show. No matter how crazy the idea, or what went wrong in the middle, he would say his line, “I love it when a plan comes together. It meant all was good with the world, the bad guys dealt with, and the people they were helping were safe.
We like it when our plans work just like we mapped them out. Life is good, and it feels like everything is under control.
Ultimately, however, we all know that we are not in complete control, it’s just hard to admit it at times. We or someone we love gets sick, the car gets a flat tire, the frig breaks…. Scary, frustrating things happen.
While we do not always have control over what happens, we do have control over how we respond to the situation.
Our first instinct is to raise the alarm, protest loudly, and insist that things go our way. Because as we all know, our approach is the best way. Right?
Our first instinct is to raise the alarm, protest loudly, and insist that things go our way. Because as we all know, our way is the best way. Right?
3 Things to Remember When Plans Go Wrong
#1 – Give Thanks & Be Thankful
You are more than likely going to hear me mention this book again, I’m learning so much! Anne Voskamp’s book, “One Thousand Gifts Devotional,” is pretty incredible. I am learning to see thankfulness in a completely different way:
- Thankfulness is a form of worship
- Thankfulness is the best way to move our focus from the problem and back on our Life-Giver
- Thankfulness is obedience
#2 – Choose To Trust
“God is in control, He has a plan.”
When the bad and frustrating times hit, this is usually the last thing you want to hear. It’s too simple, and it sounds cliche. But there is truth in the simplicity and the cliche.
That line is the answer, but at that moment, it sure doesn’t feel like it. We want to know why? What am I doing wrong? Why is this happening? What about my plans?
And then the big one, “But, Lord, I thought I was following your leading and direction!?”. It’s a frustrating question that rarely has a quick answer.
Choosing to trust can be a tough decision to make in the midst of it all the stress, especially when we don’t understand. Choosing trust is an act of faith.
Lord, help me to take a deep breath right now and really trust in my Savior – that He really saves. Thank you Lord; in my Savior I am always safe. ~Anne Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts Devotional
#3 – Enjoy and Record The Small Moments
This one might surprise you… or maybe not! :). Beautiful, small moments that are noticed and appreciated build up over time. Anne Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts started as a challenge to make a list of 1,000 things she loved. 1,000 graces. 1,000 things she could be grateful for. It changed her life.
These small moments, these small graces are so easily missed, especially in times of stress. When we take notice, make a list, and record them, we start to see a pattern. We can begin to see our Creator, our Provider, at work during the good days and the bad. Seeing that pattern can change our hearts and minds when our plans are going wrong.
If things had gone according to our plan, many of these small moments would not have even happened!
These 3 things sound so simple, don’t they? But they aren’t.
Can We Change How We Respond?
Yes, I think we can, but not without help.
It’s usually something I think about later, after the initial frustration and shock fade, and my attempts to control the plan fail.
What a different person I would be if these 3 things were my first response. How would my life, my testimony, my example, and my impact change?
I want to leave you with one last thought. It’s guaranteed that plans are going to go wrong. We are going to get the bad news that we don’t respond correctly too. There will be times when we are going to react in fear, anger, frustration, and confusion. And probably will feel guilty about it later.
Thankfully we have a God who understands and can handle it. He knows our weaknesses, and when we ask, He forgives freely. He never leaves us or forsakes us.
You’ve been angry all week, Simon, but you’re taking it out on the wrong things. It’s better to take it out on God. He can cope with all our anger. That’s one thing my long span of chronology has taught me. If I take all my anger, all my bitterness over the unfairness of this mortal life and throw it all to God, He can take it all and transform it into love before he gives it back to me. ~Madeleine L’Engle, Dragons in the Water
I’ll never forget the first time I read that, it made me stop and think.
Now, I’m not saying this is theologically sound… what I am saying is that we are told to cast our cares (our worries, our anxieties, our messed up plans) on Him, because He cares for us.
He is the one that can take our frustration, fear, and anger and transform it, transform us. He is the one who can take up our messed up plans and turn it into something better than we ever imagined.
Isn’t that amazing?
Marta Goertzen is an entrepreneur, writer, and nature photographer. She daily explores the trails and beaches of the South Central Oregon Coast with her dogs. You can follow along on their adventures on Instagram. She is also the author of several books, and now with the Selah Journal: A reflective journal and mini-retreat. Start your own daily gratitude practice with our, “7 Days of Gratitude Challenge – A Gratitude Journal Starter Kit”.