Recently my wife and I were visiting with friends, whose teenage child was anxious about which college to attend upon the completion of high school. It was intriguing to hear about her anxiety to get into the “right” school, certain that if she failed, she was a failure. Her parents are trying to impress upon her the value of a plan B, but the conventional wisdom in her world is “Plan A or the highway.” What is this all about?
In much of North America, there is an operative spirituality that imagines that God has a plan for us. It’s our job to figure that out, and follow it to a “T” in order to achieve our destiny. Anything short of this is failure. Of course, many North Americans no longer pay heed to God, but the myth of a destiny in this fashion prevails. This is a recipe for disappointment.
In my life plan A rarely works out. Plan B seems to press itself upon me more often than not, and I have seen marvelous things come from this. Plan B is usually more surprising, sometimes less respectable, and often more productive.
I think the genius behind plan B is that it allows me to build upon my failure, to identify my dependence on God, and so it engenders in me a sense of humility. Maybe plan A works for some people, but for most of us plan B is what life is all about: more like a piece of messy art than a jigsaw puzzle with every piece in place – and really more interesting, and more fun, for that reason.