If you glanced at my list of intended accomplishments for this weekend, you might think that I’m superwoman. According to my checklist, I am a Social Queen who balances fitness goals, academics, and extracurricular hobbies like a champ.
In reality, I often groggily tumble into the weekend with an ambitious list of things to check off, but am quickly distracted by more primal demands: food, shower, sleep. So, Friday night vanishes, but hark!—Saturday is here, promising to be the productive day I’ve been waiting for!
Amid a coffee-filled morning and near starts to tackling “the checklist,” something unforeseen occurs. Maybe the dishwasher makes a growling noise, or maybe my car won’t start. Saturday is then absorbed in crisis control and, before I know it, Sunday evening arrives. Yikes—time to start another week?
Does this sound at all familiar? Weekends, as well as life itself, seem to pass by at an alarming pace—sometimes made worse by sudden crises that drop in uninvited.
Perhaps it’s against this backdrop that Proverbs 19:21 states that, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” It’s comforting to be reminded that the apparent twists and turns in my life do not thwart the intentions of the Master Planner.
The Twist in My Life
Long story short, I was involved in a horrific car accident five years ago, which crushed whatever long-anticipated, nearly accomplished goals I had at my fingertips, including expecting to earn the clinical credentials I had been working toward for the past six years, completing my first intense, obstacles race I had trained for, and accepting a role as deacon in my church.
Instead, the remaining years in my 20’s were a blur. Time slipped past as I focused on regaining basic abilities, like walking and trying to remember people’s names.
In the first year of my recovery, I felt like my years on earth were being unfairly taken from me. But then, a friend told me that that he believed the accident allowed me to touch more lives than I probably could have otherwise, and the truth of his words really impacted me. If God was willing to work through the most unlikely of circumstances and make use of my “changed plans”, then it’d be an honor to let Him do so. True enough, I have been given opportunities to share my observations as a brain-injury survivor, for example, in several prestigious locations, like the National Institutes of Health. I have also been able to include in my presentations how my belief in God has given me security, regardless of the circumstances.
Tips for a Meaningful Weekend
When things go differently than planned, we are given a chance to appreciate the bigger picture. Cancelled plans over a weekend, for instance, provide the gifts of much-needed respite and re-prioritizing. I’m still keen on productivity, but the last five years have shaped my idea of how to best pursue it.
So from my recent experiences, I have some pointers for any fellow checklist-followers out there:
- Be realistic. If you’re like me and you find satisfaction from crossing something off a list, make the goals challenging while still attainable. Take into account other commitments that will impact your availability, so that the list is achievable, not just idealistic.
- Think ahead. Starting with the end goal, work backwards, creating a list of sub-tasks that you can accomplish in a hierarchical order. I have found that working backwards to form tasks helps me achieve goals in the most practical and time-effective manner.
- Don’t dismiss the mundane. If things aren’t going as expected, don’t write-off the potential worth of the circumstance. Seemingly “boring” seasons, for instance, may provide you with the vital growth and restoration you will rely upon in upcoming occasions.
- Demonstrate gratitude. Even during a busy day, reserve intermittent moments to appreciate your journey. Don’t allow your tasks to distract you from acknowledging and celebrating the joys currently in front of you.
- Trust in God. “We know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28). Even when something doesn’t go according to plan, we can take comfort that God has a purpose, and He knows what He’s doing.
A challenging season is much easier to accept when I recognize that it may be used by God to have an eternity-altering effect on another soul. You may not get to see the impact you have on this side of heaven, however, so don’t let disappointment slow you down (1 Corinthians 3:6). This means that when your car breaks down or you have what feels to be an unproductive weekend, don’t give much weight to any discouraged feelings. Every day is a gift, possessing great potential, regardless of the thoughts or feelings it brings about.
James 4:13-15 makes the humbling but accurate comparison of our earthly journey to that of a mist, which is here today, gone tomorrow. All we can do is try to be faithful in whatever circumstances come our way, then leave the intended productivity and end results up to God. That’s His job.
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15).