“Stop!!!” Yasmin, shouted out of nowhere, prompting me to hit the breaks. “What?!” I urgently asked her, wondering what caused the sudden exclamation. “I want to take a picture of those clouds.” she said. “You already have hundreds of cloud photos. Three of them just from this trip.” I told her not a little bit irritated. Yasmin responded, “I don’t have a shot of these clouds. And I like clouds. Just give me a minute.”
And she went and got her clouds.
After that interruption, while driving a little grumpy (as anyone who knows me knows I can be really grumpy), Yasmin asked me, “Why are you irritated?” I responded, “Because you keep delaying us. You want to stop here, and there, and take photos of clouds, and more clouds, then you want to stop for fruits, then you want Bag o Beans (a popular place in Tagaytay), then you want to take a photo of the new Coffee Bean which is in the other side of Tagaytay, and spend time on the grass of Taal Vista. And…”
“Are we in a hurry to go anywhere?” She interrupted me with a question.
“Yes! We came here to have dinner!” I said, reminding her of our plans. “You never stick to the plan!”
Yasmin looked at me, clearly hurt but more concerned, “Why are you always so fixed on the plan?”
“Why make plans at all if we’re not going to follow them?” I impatiently answered her question with my own.
I won’t forget her answer, “I don’t know about you, but what’s important to me is that we spend time together. I’m excited for dinner (Yasmin loves to eat), but I’m just happy to be with you. I’m happy to be in this car with you. I’m happy to drive by a gas station with you. I’m happy to be on a detour with you, in traffic with you, to make an unplanned pitstop with you. I like the plan but what’s important to me is to be with you.”
I remembered that incident, and I remembered what three different friends, Walden, Carlos, and Chip, told me while I was complaining about how much time having a girlfriend takes from my routine, how it gets in the way of my well-planned schedule and my efficient life, “David, you should be happy she wants to spend so much time with you.”
It also reminded me of another time, while talking to Yasmin who likes to jump from topic to topic to disconnected topic to disconnected topic. Irritated (I guess you’re seeing I’m irritable), I said, “You always do this! We’ll start a conversation and you’ll jump from topic to topic. I feel like I’m juggling with you. It’s nuts!” To which she answered, “That’s how my brain works! And you can talk to me about whatever too. I don’t really care about the topic. I’m happy to talk to you. I want to talk to you about everything.”
Thinking about those three incidents, it hit me: “So that’s what that verse means!” I’ve read Proverbs 19:21 so many times, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” but I only understood it now. Another reminder to appreciate God’s subtle whispers, “Purpose trumps plans, David. Purpose trumps plans.”
“I don’t know about you, but what’s important to me is that we spend time together.”
“I don’t really care about the topic. I’m happy to talk to you.”
“David, you should be happy she wants to spend so much time with you.”
Purpose trumps plans.
Businessmen, particularly those involved with startups, know that plans will change, and not only that, they’ll have to change. They’ll have to change to succeed. They’ll have to adapt to what the market needs and wants if they’re going to keep them. They’re going to have to change to grow, to derive as much value, even just to survive. And they’ll have to keep doing this over and over and over, over time. That’s why the best businessmen, while they do plan as effectively as possible, are resilient, able to withstand the changes to deliver that which doesn’t change: the purpose and the values. I understood the whole idea of needing plans that are adaptable in business but, as many times happens to me, I didn’t practice that lesson in my personal life. I hate it when my plans are ruined.
And I get really angry with the people who ruined them. I get really frustrated with God when it seems He ruined them. I may not confess them, and I definitely won’t rant on my blog or twitter or Facebook like a clueless idiot, but the conversations of my heart are revealing:
“God, why believe in Your promises? I’ve been waiting so long for You to come through, and I look around at all these other people succeeding, and I’m trying to do it right yet things aren’t working.”
“God, why don’t they understand? They’re stifling me. They’re not contributing to my success and they’re holding me back with false burdens.”
“What is wrong with these people? Such a simple request and they can’t even do it. I work so hard and I’m responsible but people aren’t responsible towards me.”
“What’s wrong with the government? No opportunities, and their corruption is holding us all back. This country is going to the dogs.”
“Why do people always have to mess things up just when things are starting to do well? Why this port issue now? Why this tax issue now? Why are they targeting us small businesses when the bigger crooks are getting away so comfortably?”
I can go on. With every complaint I write a new one enters my head before I’m even finished typing the last one. I grumble quite a bit. Not out loud, but in the darkest parts of my heart. I grumble when what’s happening isn’t lining up to the expectations of my heart, when things aren’t going according to my plans.
But now I am reminded: Purpose trumps plans. And I am reminded that ultimately, in the eternal scheme of things, God’s purpose is for us to enjoy Him, and that purpose I can fulfill no matter how well my plans are going. In the midst of a delayed deal I can say, “Father, can I wait with you?” In the midst of rejection I can request, “Father, remind me that You love me.” In the midst of accusation, I can get on my knees and confess, “Father, You’ve taken my sins as far as the east is from the west.” In the midst of a fading dream, of a painful circumstance, of a major disappointment, I can reframe my perspective and say, “Father, this really sucks! This really sucks so bad! I planned this so well, I worked so hard at this, but it’s not turning out according to plan! But have Your way.”
And I feel Him reminding me, just like Yasmin,“I don’t know about you, but what’s important to me is that we spend time together. I’m excited for your future, but I’m just happy to be with you, now, today, in the present, whatever that present is. I’m happy to be in this journey with you. I’m happy to be stuck in a phase with you. I’m happy to be on a detour with you, in a life jam with you, to make what you think is an unplanned pitstop with you. I like the plan but what’s important to me is to be with you.”
I’ve learned two things from all of this: Purpose trumps plans, and as long as I’m fulfilling that purpose, let the plans adapt. I’ve also learned that Yasmin’s lines aren’t original. Now I know where she gets them from.
It’s a great feeling to know that those who hold your heart share the same purpose.