Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Dear Hilary, Love, Hilary: A Life without A Plan

Today I'm linking up with Joy's life, unmasked, where we share the messy and the beautiful of our lives. We watch together as God works through it. I unmask through letters, but I hope you'll come share however you best tell the miraculous story of you.

Dear Hilary,

Can you help me? I feel like I'm walking on tiptoe through my life. Everywhere I look, there is something about to fall off the edge of the table, someone I should have called and didn't, someone whose birthday I'm forgetting or whose voicemail is sitting in my mailbox waiting to be listened to. I'm terrified that everywhere I'll go I'll break something, mess up, fail at life. I'm terrified that I'll never be the person I keep hoping I'll be - BUT I DON'T HAVE A PLAN, HILARY!


Dear Tiptoeing,

Can I first just say, Oh, I've been there. There is the place where it's oversleeping to get up at 7am. There is the place when the smallest thing makes you so angry that you almost explode into a zillion pieces. I wrote about pleasing people last week, if you read it, and I think you should head back and read. You see, I want to tell you about how little it matters that you don't have a plan. You write it in big capital letters across this letter. You whisper it to yourself in the mirror as you walk by, right? I don't have a plan for the future. I don't know what's next. 

You don't have to be guilty about that, you know. You think I'm crazy. You think that everyone who has gotten where they are, everyone you admire, has had a plan. You feel safe with a plan. This graduate school, to this job, to this house on this street with this many kids. Your plan is the security blanket of making it all happen. 

And now you don't have one. And you write to me because you're wracked with guilt over the list of people you didn't reach out to, the birthdays and the voicemails and the whole hot mess, as my Southern self would say.

My biggest regret, Tiptoeing, is this: I prayed for a plan without any praise for life. I wanted subpoints,  structure, year-by-year breakdown of where I would live and what I would do. But, my dear, we do not live by plans. We live by living.

I regret wanting a plan when I already had a life. I regret wishing for more organization when I could have been out rushing into the waiting arms of a good life, right here, right now. I sat in front of to-do lists. I sat in front of Post-it notes and wrote on them all the things I needed to do, must do, had to do. I said there would be time to live beauty when I was married. I said there would be time to enjoy a Flannery O'Connor story when I had finished my PhD in history. I said there would be time to pick up and move to Italy or spend weeks on a roadtrip to Nashville or write a full-length play when I had a plan. But the time to do those things is not when they are on the itinerary. It is when they catch your heart and carry you.

Praise life. Praise the fact that there are 24 hours in a day. Praise that there is enough time for a chai and a drive with your best friend. Praise that there is falling in love and breaking our hearts and being angry and forgiving. I yearned for a structure, but forgot the life that fills it.

You, sweet friend, have a life. A good one. A beautiful one. Without a plan.

Wouldn't you rather the life?

Life: Unmasked


  1. "But the time to do those things... is when they catch your heart and carry you."

    Oh, thank you for saying this! And it is true: a life is so much better than a plan! So unpredictable, but full. And I'd rather have fullness than predictability.

  2. Yes, friend, me too. I would so much rather the fullness, as messy as it is. As beautiful as it is. 


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