Five o'clock ruined my plans.

I was happy at 4:30pm that day in September. Giddy even.

Four years I spent working towards a specific dream - you could even call it a promise. Hours were given to researching, pens ran out of ink and copious amounts of coffee were consumed. Scribbles on paper with charts and lists covered my dining room table late into the night as I looked over my plans. 

The whole thing was starting to grow legs and come to life before my eyes. 

Life was good at 4:30pm that day in September.

Then the phone rang. It was 5 o'clock. 

I answered it.

It wasn't good. The woman informed me of some news that changed the plan. In fact, it kind of ruined the plan, burned the paper it was written on and then scattered the ashes somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle. At least that is how it felt by 5:05pm. 

The worst part? I started to scold myself for actually getting excited. Chasing this promise has been years of ups and downs. Dangled carrots dropped in front of me and actually believing that I was finally going to get to eat them. I'd lunge to catch the dream between my teeth but it always pulled right back up out of reach. Close enough to taunt me but too far for me to grab.

You know what I am talking about.

Falling in love only for the other person to back out. Working long hours just to watch another person end up with the credit. Finally saving enough money for a backpacking trip with friends but having to drain your account to pay for a car repair. And now you are using your newly fixed car to drive your friends to the airport. Carrots dangled.

I sat there that day choking back tears and knowing what will pop up next.

Spray painted grass, that's what. 

I see the other side where the grass is greener. The side where everything went as planned. That piece of earth where the money never runs out and the world is fair. Where people get what they have worked hard for and rain falls with perfect timing.

You know exactly what I am talking about because you have had to live in the tension between dangled carrots and spray painted grass yourself. 

The truth about that grass? It isn't really green. It has been painted with idealism, envy and good old fashioned imagination. It is the futuristic version of what would have happened if everything would have gone our way. The perfect interpretation of our plan before real life happens.

We see that grass. And just like that, we are discontent with where we are. The trinkets we carry as our own are no longer valuable. Our relationships don't sparkle with endless perfection. Our romances are tarnished with human flaws. Promotions at work that went to another suddenly make our job seem insignificant. 

And that's the biggest problem with chasing dreams, promises and grander plans. Sometimes they don't work out the way we want and we see our own life as the enemy.

The other grass surely would have been softer, never needed mowing and would naturally repel all insects so you could picnic in peace. The people who live there are faultless and easy to love. At least that is how it looks from here.

But this place? This place is pain and work. Trying and risking over and over. It's loving the person in front of you when you have a very specific person in mind you'd rather be loving. This grass embeds thorns in your feet if you try to run through it carefree. 

I hated my grass that September. 

Fast forward two years. The dream has come to pass. That phone call was our agency telling me they were closing their adoption program for Uganda. After four years of waiting we were back at square one. I grieved. I cried. I was confused.

Now? I've got two beautiful twins from Burundi - not Uganda - that came to be because of that devastating phone call. I have never been so thankful for a plan to fall apart.

This little patch of field you will go to bed on tonight? It's your home for now. Maybe not the home you wanted but the people parked next to you are just as worthy of love as the people in the spray painted grass.

Continue to work towards the promise, but choose to live your life with gusto right where you are until then. We've got to live settled even when everything is up in the air. Not giving up for something lesser but finding contentment while working towards something else. 

There will always be a tension between the carrots we chase and the fields we sleep in. Even when it stings us to the core, we have to let go of our plan and believe the promise.

On the days when a late afternoon phone call crushes you, God has given you a place to sit and rest while you catch your breath. It night not be the perfectly manicured grass you were hoping for, but it is your place for now. And there is grace to make it your home.

Liz GriffinComment