I am not good when it comes to diversions from the plan. I try to be. I sometimes think I am making great headway with this character flaw, and then something happens and I realize that, nope, I am not a "roll with the punches" kinda gal. Stuart Little comes to mind - the part in the book where Stuart has his date with Harriet Ames. Stuart plans out the day in vivid detail. As Stuart takes Harriet to his canoe he discovers that someone has vandalized his new boat. His plan of a peaceful afternoon on the water is now an impossibility. He is completely undone when it begins to rain and he cannot get over how beautiful the day was, in his mind. Harriet makes several suggestions, but Stuart is sulky and the date is ruined.
Today I was hit with one of those "divergent roads." Oh I know, the poet romanticizes the road and tells us how it will make all the difference if we will but take it. But I am here to say, I don't really want that road. I like my road; the one I've planned out, in my mind. It's quite nice actually. There are no hidden dangers lurking around unseen corners, no steep cliffs that one might veer off of in a fog, no jagged precipices to climb or slip and fall to a sudden death. Yes, my mind road is quite safe. Nothing unpleasantly unexpected ever happens there.
Alright, let me remove my Pollyannic glasses momentarily. I have lived enough life to know that that is not how things work. I know my road will diverge, and it will be uphill - sometimes straight uphill, in the searing heat, with no shade and only ravenous animals and maybe a really wicked blizzard. (I suppose that conflicts with the searing heat, but you get my meaning.) I know life is full of difficult providences and these provide opportunities for my faith to root out my fear. I know that things rarely go as planned, and I believe that is ultimately a good thing. But I am here to state, for the record, that I don't like it. I am sorry if that is a disappointment to some, but I recognize my Stuartness and I claim it.
When Stuart falls apart and misses out on a lovely evening with Harriet because of his idolized plan, it is a comedic tragedy, and we laugh over Stuart's silliness and are thoughtful about what might have been. As an elementary teacher, this was a wonderful moral lesson that I fervently taught.
When I am faced with my own "Stuartness" it is mostly comedic, but in the quiet places I see it in all its ugliness and I realize I am storing up idols in my heart - idols of preconceived plans that must look a particular way and a defiant unwillingness to graciously accept a different road.
Today was one of those divergent road days. Not a Stuart-sized divergence, but a life-altering road into what looks to me to be sheer cliffs of disappointment. And so I went to my sustainer and helper. I confessed my Stuartness in His presence and sought wisdom and grace to make this journey. I prayed, "Lord keep my heart from being hardened." I wish I could say the fog lifted, the path cleared, and another road miraculously appeared. It has not. I have no answers though I fervently seek.
I do, however, have an assurance that I am not alone; that this difficulty is not unknown, and was in fact prepared for me ahead of time by the One who knows my deepest need. I have the knowledge that after this climb, if I trust in the one who leads me rather than my preconceived plan of what I pictured the road to be, I will have scaled another mountain and will be less "Stuarty" than before the trip.
I'm also pretty sure, although I cannot see it now, that the view from the top of this next hill will be unmatched.
Show me your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; on you I wait all the day.