There is a Yiddish proverb that I often cite when my plans go awry: “Man plans, God laughs”. I don’t really think that God laughs at us when our plans go wrong, at least not in a meanspirited way; if He does, I think it’s more like the way a loving parent laughs at a toddler trying to move the refrigerator so she can retrieve the ball that rolled under it.
What I really try to do when my plans aren’t working (like this morning, when there was no hot water when I woke up) is to stop and take a breath. Sometimes (as with the lack of hot water), all that’s really required is to reorder the day and try to make the best of it. This morning, I made breakfast, which we ate during the time when we normally would have been taking our respective turns in the shower, and by the time we were done with breakfast, our amazing super had fixed the problem and we each still got out of the house more or less on time. That was a minor thing and just required a gentle reshuffling and time-shifting of tasks.
Other times, much bigger things go wrong. Life-changing things. That’s when my prayer becomes “Thy will be done”, and I try to be utterly sincere about it, even though it’s nerve-wracking. I am a willful person, so choosing to put aside my own will and to accept what comes has not been easy for me. It truly is a test of faith, and I still sometimes fail that test, and call my willfulness persistence. Persistence becomes willfulness when my ego becomes involved; when I see that’s what I’m doing, that’s the time to step back and accept what will come, whatever it is.
A very wise person once told me that it’s perfectly okay to pray for specific outcomes, but to be prepared for the answer to be “No”. That’s where faith comes in; faith that, even if the outcome isn’t what I want, it will ultimately be good for me.
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