At the beginning of April and then again at the beginning of May, my oldest daughter wrote the months on our dry erase calendar in the kitchen. After neatly writing each date on its correct square, she scrawled, “Stay home!” in big, harsh letters. We all laughed, but in a sad way.
Normally, our calendar is full of practices and appointments, due dates and play dates. Now, it’s blank. Wide open. Empty. And while we certainly have enjoyed more down time and free time, we’ve also struggled — like you might have — with the many things we’ve missed since COVID-19 interrupted our world.
Like so many of you, we’ve marked the days and weeks of this shelter-in-place season with nothing more than checkmarks. We haven’t counted down to anything, save perhaps the last day of school, which meant something completely different than any year before. We’ve barely even noticed when special dates pass us by, choosing to avert our eyes from the calendar of cancellations. It would be a few days later when we’d remember, “Oh yeah, last weekend was when I was supposed to go to the youth retreat” (for my oldest daughter), or “Hey, wasn’t soccer supposed to start in April?” (for my youngest daughter), and “Well, I guess I don’t have to remember where my passport is after all” (that’s all me).
Don’t get me wrong; I’m more than grateful that I can work from home, that my husband has only missed a few days of work and pay, that my family is safe and healthy. But the lack of plans or upcoming . . . well . . . anything is hard on my heart.
I didn’t realize at first what was causing my sense of weariness and the general fog surrounding my mind. (I confess I was quick to blame it on my kids being with me all day, every day!) Why couldn’t I remember what day it was? Why did I keep missing deadlines? Why couldn’t I answer a simple question like, “How was your week?”
Finally, a friend pointed out that my disorientation might be due to my lack of plans. With nothing to look forward to, every day really does look and feel the same. In fact, without an event or activity or goal to plan for or work toward, my days lacked purpose, and I began to feel aimless.
Maybe you can identify with this feeling? Maybe you, too, have felt the weight of an empty calendar or the confusion of a life full of Zoom calls and drive-by birthday parties but still missing real meaning or connection? Maybe we’re still all in this together, but singing that to the tune of a Disney song makes you long for a big game or an opening night or something to write on that blank calendar?
You’re not alone. As it’s been lamented a million times, this is a weird, hard, confusing season for all of us. But more than that, even as economies and communities begin opening up, it’s an uncertain season. This is a time when we are coming face to face with what — or Whom — we put our hope in.
Do we place our hope in the plans we’ve made or in the goals we’ve set and the steps we’ve committed to taking to reach them? Do we place our hope in our ability to invite friends or family to gather, write the date on the calendar, and know that get-together will take place? Do we place our hope in being masters of our own domains, creating timelines and setting dates, buying tickets and paying deposits and registering for events?
I know I have.
But God offers us a better way. And it can be found in the Bible, our anchor in stormy seas or calm ones. The book of Proverbs, in particular, offers many words of wisdom about making plans.
- Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV).
- The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps (Proverbs 16:9 ESV).
- Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand (Proverbs 19:21 ESV).
Those are good words, reminding us that no matter what the world is doing around us God is still in control. And if we look to Him, He will guide us to our next steps on the path He’s prepared for us, a path that travels straight through this difficult season. When we feel weak or confused or weary, we can lean on Him and our trust in His good plans (Jeremiah 29:11). When we’re unsure about what we should do next or if we even have something to look forward to right now, turning to Scripture reminds us that God made plans for us long ago (Ephesians 2:10). Nothing — global upheaval or personal chaos — can change that.
My calendar is still pretty blank, and the summer looms long and daunting for this work-from-home (and slightly introverted) mom unaccustomed to a whole lot more alone time than I will get for a while longer. But when I begin to feel adrift in the sea of space and time untethered by plans and schedules, I’m clinging to my anchor: God’s Word. I’m holding tight to His promises and leaning on His promise of plans for my life.
God knows what day it is. He won’t grow weary, and He knows exactly what’s coming next — for each one of us. And that is something to look forward to!