“Freedom is the moment we grant ourselves
permission to take the long way.”
I’ve never been a fan of taking the long way — at least on purpose. I tend to be a shortest route, fastest time, quickest span between two points kind of person. But in July 2021, we sold our home. My husband, kids, dogs, and I all moved to The Flat — a tiny rental on the other side of town. The Flat is not luxurious. But, it meets all of our basic needs in a modest, compact single floor plan, making it an ideal option for the current adventure I lovingly dubbed our Residential Gap Year.
I’m a planner by nature. So, when we arrived at the Flat, I had grand, really specific plans about what our Residential Gap Year would look like and where we’d all land the very minute that year was over. Grand, really specific plans that went down in a spectacular blaze of unglory precisely one month later when I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.
What Happens When A Planner No Longer Has a Plan?
To be fair, I’ve had my plans unceremoniously unravel right before my very eyes many times before.
I had plans for my first marriage, which only lasted a total of five years before the gig was decidedly up.
I had plans for a big family before multiple miscarriages and infertility derailed the imaginary herd I envisioned.
I had plans for my career, which I frantically dismantled when I finally realized that moving up in traditional corporate America was someone else’s dream for me.
I had plans for pretty much everything. Sometimes, they would work out. More often than not, they wouldn’t.
But it was always okay. I was always okay because back then, whenever the winds would shift, whenever my circumstances would change, whenever God would nudge me onto another path entirely, I was able to quickly recalibrate my plans based on my very scientific IF/THEN formula.
IF this happens, THEN I will…
IF they do that, THEN I will do this…
IF that doesn’t work, THEN I will try…
On and on and on. I applied this formula on a lather, rinse, repeat basis, secretly applauding myself for being so open-minded, so agile, so willing to adjust, no matter what I encountered.
Cancer took my proven and highly-coveted IF/THEN practice and unflinchingly burned it to the ground. When the smoke finally cleared, I stood in its ashes and realized that, for the first time ever, I had no plans.
I had hopes.
I had dreams.
I had many prayers.
But, I was officially a planner with no plans. It was only then, standing in the dust of a habit I wore like a self-indulgent badge of honor that I finally understood what it means to fully trust God, the ultimate Plan Maker.
The Gifts That Come With Taking The Long Way
I also finally understand all the things I’ve missed by always charging full steam ahead, following the fastest route possible and fueled solely by my own force of will. Pushing pause on planning and granting myself permission to take the long way over the last several months has taught me far more than it has taken from me.
I’ve learned that progress for me can look a whole lot like standing still to someone else.
I’ve learned that resolving to put down the map is sometimes the only way for me to take in the scenery — and find joy in the journey.
Most importantly, I’ve learned that sometimes it’s not about adjusting my arrival time — it’s about no longer worrying about arriving at all.
So, I still have my hopes, and dreams, and prayers — but I’m leaving the planning to God and celebrating when he takes me the long way.
Today’s’ Soft Never
Today, let’s put a Soft Never on the belief that we can never grant ourselves permission to take the long way. It’s okay to push a pause on our plans, put down the map, and simply find joy in the journey.
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