I do not have a five year plan. I feel oddly ashamed, admitting this. Like I just admitted that I like to wear mismatched shoes or something. But no, I just realized this week that I do not have a plan for what’s next, and maybe I should. Granted, I have never in my (short) adult life had a five year plan. And when I have had plans for longer than a year or two in advance, they have never worked out quite the way I thought they would. But I’ve finished graduate school, and been pastoring for a couple of months now (something I definitely did not plan on, even though I did go to seminary). And it has come up in a couple of conversations with friends about what their plans are next, talking about kids and moving plans and further school plans. Every time I have these kinds of conversations, I get this feeling like I am behind in life.
I know I am not behind in life. I know that there is no such thing as being behind in life. There is not some celestial conveyor belt that moves people along and if you take a detour, you are held back a year or sent to the back of the line. But that feeling creeps up just the same.
Of course, I remind myself that I’m getting married in a month, and that’s taken a lot of planning. So maybe the part of my brain responsible for planning is just all used up. It does seem like marriage and graduating and pastoring and everything is catapulting me into a whole new unknown realm of adulthood at warp speed. I feel like I am at a strange spot in life right now that I haven’t been at before. And maybe that is what is weirding me out- I don’t have school to plan for anymore. I’m working. I go to council meetings and plan worship and talk about God every Sunday and go to potlucks. I just don’t know what comes after this.
So I plan week to week, and soon (after the wedding, if I’m honest) I’ll plan month to month. But I confess, after the anxiety and some of the shame of thinking I am behind because I only plan month to month right now, there is some freedom. Sure, I don’t know where I will be in five years or what my life will look like then. But isn’t that just a little bit exciting? Will my future husband and I have kids? I don’t know. Will I be thinking about getting a PhD? Who knows! Where will I work? Will I still be at the same churches I’m at right now? I really don’t know! Will I live in the same town, or will we have moved? You got me! I have no idea!
So this is me right now- looking ahead, shrugging, and saying “we’ll see, I guess!” It’s not a place I have been in before, and I am not sure if I will be here again. But there is a sense of peace and freedom knowing that I am open to whatever comes next. It’s a little scary, but exciting at the same time to wonder where I will be in five years. But I will say, in five years, I will probably not know what I will be doing five years from then. I do hope that in five years, I still have the imagination to be open to the possibilities and be comfortable with the unexpected, whatever they happen to be, and wherever they take me.