Blog, Change, Christian Living, Daily Discipline

A Plan is Not the Answer

I don’t want to write this post today… It’s been a difficult time, and in many respects, I’ve failed. My usual response to personal failure is to cleverly devise a better plan. That’s it!! I just need a plan (if I didn’t have one), or a better one if I did. This, of course, will solve my problems and I will never fail in this area again!

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Do you sometimes find yourself being the definition of ‘insane,’ like I do? Doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result???

 It has taken me a very, very, verrrrrry long time to discover this enormous flaw in my thinking. I guess I was around 17 years old when I first thought I needed to lose a few pounds. The answer? A plan, of course! And maybe I was around 21 when I actually joined Weight Watchers…the first time. Whh—whoa! Wait a second!! Are you saying that your initial plan at 17 didn’t work??? That’s right…it didn’t work. But that was obviously because I had the wrong plan, duh!? Suffice it to say after joining Weight Watchers numerous times, various and sundry plans, the same plans re-worked…I can honestly say that a plan is not the answer for my weight loss needs. And yet…I keep thinking “this will be the time that the plan works for me!”

I have applied this strategy of thinking to almost everything in my life that I feel like needs fixin’. A plan. Surely, that is what I need! I need to have a more productive morning…I need to get up earlier…I need to speak more kindly…I need to save money….I need to pray more…I need to study the bible more…I need to exercise…I need, I need, I NEED! A plan, a plan…A PLAN!!!! RIGHT??????!! Wrong.

Now…lest I be misunderstood…plans are good and needful. It’s the old “fail to plan, plan to fail,” cliché. So, yes, you need one. But no, the plan – in and of itself – is not your answer. It is not your savior.

I’ve had tons of wonderful, thoughtful, thorough plans…But merely having a plan has never ensured success in any pursuit. Perhaps you think I’m going to say something like, “the follow-through of the plan is where we’re all falling short!” And if I did say something like that, I would be getting warmer to the real truth… Yes, you do have to have the plan and then follow it. But the fact of the matter is that while we start out with the best intentions because we recognize a deficiency within ourselves, these plans born to solve a problem most often (dare I say, “always?”) start off hard and strong and end up dying a slow, painful, discouraging death. And usually we are worse off in the end. Why?

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The way I see it, most often the things we discover about ourselves that need to be improved upon or completely changed did not become an issue overnight. Days, weeks, months and years coalesce to form a syrupy thread of thoughts, beliefs and behaviors that engrave themselves in a very sacred place: the heart. Ahhh…yes, that old, deceitful heart. While life is zooming by, the heart silently accepts the chiseling we do every day…programming it to think, believe and behave in a certain way. So a mere plan, conceived in the brain, does very little to exact a true change. The place to begin any true life change is in the heart. The wise book of Proverbs says in 23:7, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he…” (bold, mine) Further, this is not something I can do on my own. For a deep heart change, I must have the help of Almighty God. He is a sincere, patient and loving heart surgeon.

As a thinking, aware person, I can recognize that the way I speak should be loving and uplifting. If I’m struggling in this area, all the plans and intentions to do better will far short if my heart is not on board. If I don’t truly love, respect and honor others, my speech will not change. Perhaps it will, temporarily (remember that our plans often begin hard and strong?), but I will eventually revert back to whatever I have programmed in my heart. I can recognize that overeating and not exercising are not good for my body. I can make a plan to do better in these areas…but, if I still love eating too much, and hate exercise…or if I don’t truly desire to go through this painful change, I will revert back to the undesirable behaviors. Any true change must have its place deeply rooted in my heart, first. From the heart change, then a plan is formed. Then the plan (by God’s help) is followed. Then? We pray for God to help us every single day. Then? We persevere when it gets hard. Then? We pray some more. Then? We keep talking to our hearts…allowing God to reprogram us. Then? We really change. Really. For good.

 

[This post was originally published in 2014.]

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