Most of us have developed a “life plan” at some point. We planned out what we were going to do and where we were going to be at which point in our life. Whether it was marriage, kids, career, or homes, these life plans were rather specific as to one’s dreams and aspirations.
After all, we were all asked in our twenties about what we were going to do with our lives; what mark were we going to make on the world; when were we going to settle down; how much of the economic pie and life’s luxuries were we going to grab for ourselves; what were we going to do to save for our kids’ college and our retirements.
What was the Plan?
The problem arose that, while most of us came up with the Plan, I would venture a wild guess that very few of us really asked God about HIS plans for us before finalizing the Plan. Few of us gave God a blank sheet and asked him to start writing.
If we do not give God a blank sheet, we end up giving that sheet to the culture; and our culture is more than willing to use that sheet to sell us a distorted message about what should be our life.
Commercials, ads, magazines, websites, music videos, television shows and movies all try to tell us what should be our dreams. We are told about sexy careers and lifestyles. We are made to feel inadequate if we do not achieve these dreams or rise to the level of success imprinted upon our minds and hearts through the lens of a camera. Our culture also pushes us via our elders, mentors and peers, who all try to have a say in our success and telling us what to do with our lives. They try to make their (often un-realized) dream of success become our own.
The result is predictable.
For those who have a God-free life plan, some execute their plan and “succeed” while the others put their life plan on a shelf and fall into a stagnating drift. In either case, what follows is often (but not always) materialism, secularism, disillusionment, heartache, complacency, and hopelessness. What also often follows is a content free relationship with God and the Church. What’s worse is that, whether they are successful or not, too many want to get off the road they are on but can’t.
So, if this is happening to someone, what is the alternative?
The alternative is to empty the heart, mind and soul of all dreams, all aspirations, all ambition, and all expectations. And then turn to Christ. Empty the vessel of all that is not put there by God and then let God fill it with his will and his plans. Cut the strings with a life plan put together without God’s input and then let him write the plan.
The great saints threw out their life plans when they realized the plans weren’t jiving with God’s plan. They then got with the program.
It may be particularly hard to abandon a plan that appears to be working. It is up to everyone to evaluate their lives in the light of Christ and determine the source of their success. Is the plan working because it is from Christ or is it only working in human terms (and not God’s terms)? Is their plan leading them to a closer relationship with Christ and his Church? Or is it leading to a disinterested or distant connection?
It is time for everyone to take their life plan back from the culture and give it back to Christ. It is only then that we will do his will in this age.
Stairway to Heaven is a weekly feature exploring how to live our Catholic faith in our culture.