~Joel’s Blog

Plans: Don’t Leave Home Without One

Have you heard the quote

“Life is what happens after you’ve made plans”?

It’s true, isn’t it?

You made plans. Then, poof! How many times has this happened to you? Just when you think you have plans—it’s scheduled, in flow, settled, decided, prepared for, whatever—something unexpected comes along and, boom! A shift happens. Sometimes the shift is like a slight tremor. Noteworthy, maybe, but not too alarming. Other times, that shift can hit you like an earthquake.

Isn’t it odd how, once in a while, a really good thing can shake your life to its foundations? Even topple your clever plans.

A Mess of Stress

The first time I encountered a tool that tries to quantify how we are impacted by change in our lives (the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale), I was amazed that it included so many good things it categorized as stressful: pregnancy, reconciliation, even vacation. Many things it rated “stressful” we would call “new beginnings.” To my surprise, many experiences listed weren’t just about difficult moments or tragedy breaking in. Many are pretty normal life events we would not normally associate with stress.

So I applied the scale to, well, me. According to the H&R Stress Scale, we’re at 253 points.

Hm. That wasn’t part of my plan.

Because that’s pretty high.

Over 150 is “concerning.” Over 300 is not, according to these researchers, life-enhancing.

Yeah, OK. I’ll take a deep breath now. Several, in fact.

Why? My score is already 100+ points above concerning. And there were a couple of items I didn’t count.

What’s amazing is that many of the contributing factors that went onto my Stress Scale score are mostly emotionally positive in nature. Yet, they are stressful.

Even Good Living is Stressful

In our case, quite a few of these points piled up around “son or daughter leaving home” (29 points). We were able to squeeze in a tremendously fun family weekend trip (“vacation: 13 points”) just before moving our daughter out of the house and into her college dorm (“change in living conditions: 25 points”). She formally began classes last August (“begin or end school: 26 points”).

We’re so proud of Jessica and all that she accomplished to make it into the Honor’s College of a fantastic institution. Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) recently received full, international accreditation of its engineering college, a difficult milestone. Jessica’s desire is to become an engineer while minoring in graphic design. She continues to maintain that astonishing balance of right and left brain aptitudes. And she is writing the 2nd book in her fantasy novel series, NeverSeen!

Still, these changes bring stress with them, regardless of whether they are “good” or “bad.” They mess up our plans because they’re major changes. And that’s more than enough.

According to Holmes and Rahe,

The body is a finely timed instrument that does not like surprises. Any sudden change stimuli which affects the body, or the reordering of important routines that the body become used to, can cause needless stress, throwing your whole physical being into turmoil.

Growth = Discomfort

By now you know that here at Prepare For Rain, we believe that living an engaged life often puts you into turmoil. And, yes, turmoil looks and feels a lot like stress.

Living into your purpose doesn’t happen in comfort.

Growth—life-changing growth—takes place in the fertile ground of discomfort.

There are many ways to handle the stress that comes with living life on purpose. That’s a primary focus of our coaching. Living in tension is not only possible, it is inevitable. But we get to choose whether we live in tension graciously or not. And, wonder of wonders, it can be liberating to one’s soul to live in tension. You can make plans for the tension. Plans that even welcome the stress.

This is one of several truths we shared with Jessica on the day she moved out. If you’d like to read more about that, just go here: Love Note. It’s also about beginnings and endings.

Fulfill Your Calling

Be like a farmer. Remember, it takes grit, determination, and faith to go out and plow the field during a season of drought. But it is in the act of doing so that the farmer prepares for rain.

The farmer intentionally plans to plow and prepare the fields even when the evidence is that there is no reason to. They have to act on their belief that the rains will come, that the crops will grow. The farmer doesn’t have the option of just waiting until everything lines up perfectly for them to take that big step of faith.

But it’s not like there is a different way the world works for the rest of us. We, too, need to plan for growth to come. We, too, need to act even when the evidence might seem to prove there is no reason to.

So, it is in our acts of doing–something proactive, something that moves us closer to our goals, something that takes us to a new level–that we prepare for rain in our lives.

Get Going

Benjamin Franklin said,

Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.

When we wait for circumstances to be perfect—for the work to be easy, for the field to be plowed for us, for the rains to come when it’s convenient—we’re seeking a life of comfort. We’re attempting to live in a predictable world. We’re trying to control what cannot be controlled. We fail out of our own lives and submit to a life of fear. We die young and get buried later.

The world in which we live deserves better from us. God calls us to be more. We aren’t created for lives of mediocrity.

May your life be filled with more thoughtful, intentional changes. Plan for them. Prepare for them. And may you embrace the tension that comes from living into your purpose.

Now, get out there. Prepare for Rain. The world is waiting for you to show up, with your boots caked in mud and a wide grin on your face. Bring it—bring you—with all the gusto you can manage.

Engage here. Add to the conversation. Leave a comment below.



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