Best Laid Plans

I hate being interrupted. When I’m reading a good book, telling a good story, or attempting to complete a good task, I want nothing more than to be left alone to complete what I’ve started.

I also hate having my plans disrupted. When I’ve purchased tickets to a show, mapped out a hike, or made dinner reservations, I want nothing more than to be given the pleasure of enjoying the plans I’ve made.

It isn’t just books and dinners, though. I’m the type of person who feels more comfortable when I know what’s going to happen and have a firm grasp of what to expect. I find joy in my ability to have some control over my days and years. In fact, there was a time in my life when I had a 1, 5, and 10 year plan worked up…tools that I felt would give me the motivation I needed to cultivate a successful life.

Then, I became a foster parent.

Don’t get me wrong: becoming a foster parent was definitely part of my plan. I simply didn’t realize how that part of my plan would alter every other part of my plans. 

We got our first call for a foster placement on a clear summer morning right before my daughter and I headed out on a girls’ day. We had planned to get our nails done and share a meal at our favorite lunch spot. Then, the phone rang. Our day was interrupted, and our plans changed completely.

Our first scheduled home visit was re-scheduled twice before it finally happened.

Throughout my time as a foster parent, I got my kids ready for dozens of visits that got cancelled or changed at the last minute.

To be honest, I don’t think I had the opportunity to read a single book without interruption in my entire time as a foster parent.

But it wasn’t these kinds of interruptions and disruptions that had the most affect on me.

It was my sheer inability to plan my children’s futures. I had no control over how long a child would stay in my home. I had no power or voice when it came to major decisions that would affect my children for the rest of their lives. As much as foster care interrupted my life and disrupted my plans, it was the complete lack of plans that changed me the most.

Foster care forced me to live each day for itself, not worrying about tomorrow. It taught me to value each moment with my family, since I never knew how many moments we would have left together. I learned how to make tentative plans, expect changes, and cultivate a successful life in the middle of the unknown. 

I learned how to be faithful with the tasks that had been entrusted to me, and I learned how to trust God to be faithful in the areas that were far outside of my control. I learned how to love without expectations. I learned how to look at the bigger picture. I learned that Plan A isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be, and I learned that Plan C (or D or Z) can be more beautiful than I would have imagined. 

Ultimately, I learned how to live by faith.

Was it challenging at times? Absolutely. But I’m so thankful for the way foster care interrupted my life. Even though it caused some pain, I’m extremely grateful for the way foster care disrupted my plans. I no longer have a 1, 5, or 10 year plan. Instead, I’m comfortable being completely dependent on God. I find joy in following where He leads, no matter how many twists or turns show up along the way. I have big dreams and a deep faith. Those are things I wouldn’t trade for the best laid plan in the world.

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure everything out on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (MSG)

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Lindsay Goodwin