Sunday, February 04, 2007

Plan B: Something Happened III

I think I said that more happened than I was able to write last time. That's true.

The more that happened was that, some time afterwards, I was in the kitchen doing the washing up and listening to Don McLean's American Pie album. This album is mostly known for its title song, an autobiographical reflection on the changes in pop music over the 1950s and 1960s and even for "Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)".

But there is a song on it called "Crossroads", which seems to be about a man's relationship with God and realizing that his life has come to a turning point.

I was just enjoying the music, when suddenly the words of this song seemed to float through my mind in a way I found utterly compelling:

I'm all tied up on the inside
No one knows quite what I've got
And I know that on the outside
What I used to be, I'm not

My mind started racing with thoughts about the past and present. Because the truth is that I am not who I was any more. Not the little kid stuck in that house any more. Not the young trainee preacher leading church groups. Not the woman who originally fell in love with the Big Dude. Not the university feminist buried deep in radical causes and fucking around. Not the workaholic manager. Not even the cheerful partner, carer and mother I was not long ago. Something about the song made me realize how many changes I have been through and that I am in another period of transformation.

You know I've heard about people like me,
But I never made the connection
They walk one road to set them free
And find they've gone the wrong direction

I have been haunted by the idea that somewhere I have gone deeply wrong. That somehow my life is a mistake. Each choice, which seemed like the right thing at the time, somehow took me down a path I have never wanted to go. I have been kicking and screaming as if those choices can be reversed and I can somehow go back to where it all started from. But that's impossible.

The song seemed to continue on, almost relentlessly. I can honestly say that I was struck to the heart. I knelt down in the kitchen and wept, saying nothing at all but just letting the song speak for me:

Can you remember who I was?
Can you still feel it?
Can you find my pain?
Can you heal it?

Then lay your hands upon me now
And cast this darkness from my soul
You alone can light my way
You alone can make me whole once again

I felt like God heard me. I kept feeling that unconditional love. I did confess my sins, because it seemed appropriate. But I really got the impression my sins were pretty irrelevent. I accepted that God had the right to judge me, but I didn't feel judged. I felt like only God knows who I really am. And I felt loved.

This is starting to seem like a fairly conventional Christian story where I confess that I have been wrong since my teens, I should have stuck with the fundamentalist Christianity of my youth, I should never have left, I should never have become involved with the Big Dude, come back to Jesus etc etc.

But the truth is, this experience has made me regret my choices less rather than more. I am not that person any more and I can't be. I see my life now, the person I am now, as arising from the choices I made. But, however painful the consequences have been at times, they were not necessarily the wrong choices.

There was a sermon a few weeks ago at the church I have been going to, which casually mentioned what a relative called her "Plan B theology": the idea that, while you might not have followed God's original plan for your life (Plan A), God can somehow incorporate those other choices you made and all their consequences and help you to construct a Plan B.

And this is where I see myself now: living in Plan B.

I feel like God knew about where I would go and somehow accommodated it. And I don't feel like Plan B is necessarily inferior to Plan A, which is less about what God might have wanted than about what I wanted for myself. Plan B is an alternative path. It's not wrong, it's just different. The love of God can somehow transcend and transform either and any path.

I feel like, if I keep opening my heart, God will help me with Plan B.

We've walked both sides of every street
Through all kinds of windy weather
But that was never our defeat
As long as we could walk together

So there's no need for turning back
`Cause all roads lead to where we stand.
And I believe we'll walk them all
No matter what we may have planned


Blogger Fusion said...

Our lives are not a mistake. We all do the best that we can with what we have, and every life and relationship is so unique.
I read your linked back posts and I feel like I've met a even stronger person than I knew before.

I think sometimes life leads us down the path, instead of the other way around. Once I started dating my future wife, I felt like I had no choice but to follow through, and I don't know why I thought that.

You told me yesterday that I am heading toward a different kind of life, a different kind of relationship, and I think that applies to you also, but in a different context. We change throughout are lives, and that's a good thing. Most days I'm excited to see what those changes will bring me, and I hope you can do the same. I too am looking forward to see how you grow with these tranformations in your life.
Be well Emily.

1:42 AM  
Blogger Satan said...

You know, this still might be "Plan A" all along. ;)
Thanks for sharing your experience, it was beautiful.

6:08 AM  
Blogger Christian Husband said...

A great big part of my theology is God's sovereignty. Or, the way I would put it, understanding exactly what it means for Him to be "God." Which, basically, means He is in control.

Now certainly lots of things happen in the world that He does not will -- because of our choices. But that does not mean that EVERYTHING -- our poor choices included -- are not made to work for His eternal purpose. He's still in control and He uses everything for the furtherance of that purpose.

So, you made some poor choices. And they let you exactly to where God wants you. Would you have reacted the way you did to these feelings without the experiences of your life? Not at all. Sometimes we feel like we are on "Plan B" but that doesn't mean it isn't right on God's Plan A. He put you where He wanted you.

And the big question is: what are you going to do about it? God and religion are more than just feelings. Feelings can motivate us and comfort us and reward us, but they aren't much substance in and of themselves. God's given you a great gift by showing you His love. So what are you going to do about it? How are you going to show your gratitude for His comfort? How are you going to show that love back to Him?

God saying, "I love you no matter what," should motivate us to say, "Thank you, and because of that I'm going to try to not offend you anymore. Not to make you love me more because that isn't possible, but because I love you, too, and you don't hurt the ones you love."

6:13 AM  
Blogger Desmond Jones said...

Emily, I know how borderline trite it sounds to say that God meets us where we're at; that He takes us "just as we are, without one plea, but that His blood was shed for me." Good choices, bad choices, who we are, or who we were - makes no difference to Him. Ain't none of us the same as we were ten, or twenty, or thirty years ago, or, for that matter, who we'll be ten, or twenty, or thirty years from now. But the Lord takes all of us, our whole lives - past, present, and future - and redeems it, makes it New. Even our mistakes. He's really, really good that way. . .

8:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like it, thank you. :)
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Good Luck!

3:06 AM  
Blogger kissmekate said...


It sounds like you and I are in a similar place in our lives, only you have travelled the path of spirituality furhter than myself.

I am in tears and have goosebumps over my body.

I really hope that you find what it is that you are 'searching' for and that you do feel love and peace.


2:55 PM  
Blogger kissmekate said...

You just made me remember a period in my life where I was at the same place you are.

It is amazing how signs are sent to us if we ask. Obviously this song was your sign.

I asked for a sign, a shooting star. Within minutes I saw a shooting star.

I could not believe it, and thought that it was purely coincidental. So I asked for another shooting star.

Yep, it came! I was still sceptical so asked for another.....and it came!

I started to go to a church group because that was my promise to God if he sent me a sign that he existed.

I too turned my back Emily. I walked away and often live to regret the many decisions I have made in my life also.

You have made me begin to think that there is also a Plan B for me....thank you!

2:59 PM  
Blogger Ali said...

Oh Emily, if you experienced it enough to write about it here, online, with the whole world watching, then it can't just be namby pamby bullshit. I'm sure it was real.

How I long for an experience like this! How I long ot know that G-d is still there, still with us!

You are so very blessed.

2:31 PM  

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