Do you guys remember being in that glorious time of life when you knew it all, knew where you were headed, and knew nothing about real life (and were probably scared to death of it all)? I do. I had goals baby and I did NOT need anyone’s help reaching them (and I certainly wasn’t going to change anything about myself or comprise anything to get there).
Well, fast forward over a decade and it’s pretty obvious I was clueless about a lot of things. The woman I was certain I’d grow up to be isn’t around and the places I KNEW I would find myself aren’t anywhere in sight. Y’all feel me?
It all reminds me of a story I heard once. This poem is related specifically to parenting (and was written about parenting a child with a disability), but I think it pretty much nails life in general. It’s called “The Holland Poem” by Emily Perl Kingsley, and it has stuck with me for years.
The Holland Poem
“When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”
“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”
But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.”
Wow. So Holland, eh? I’m not gonna lie guys, Montana is my Holland. I have experienced so much loss and heartache on the road here. Yet, I have to admit. I don’t miss the plans I made for Italy. Now that I am here I am in awe of how God perfectly crafted every step of my life to lead me to right here where I am.
You see friends, if we spend our every waking minute planning out our journeys in great detail we don’t:
1.) leave room for God to work in our lives (which I’ve
2.) have any ability to cope when we wind up miles from the place we thought we’d be basking in the putrid smell of disappointment.
Lisa Terkeurst writes about disappointment in her book “It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way” (and I highly recommend reading it). Two of my favorite gems she writes are:
Humans are very attached to outcomes. We say we trust God but behind the scenes we work our fingers to the bone and our emotions into a tangled fray trying to control our outcomes. We praise God when our normal looks like what we thought it would. We question God when it doesn’t. And walk away from Him when we have a sinking suspicion that God is the one who set fire to the hope that was holding us together.Lisa Terkeurst, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way
What if disappointment is really the exact appointment your soul needs to radically encounter God?Lisa Terkeurst, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way
Doesn’t that last one just pierce your soul? What if realizing that we are in Holland instead of Italy is the exact soul shaker we need to let God in and do hard works in us? Instead of running away when our version of normal is no where to be found, what if we let Him shape us into people who are able to rock the heck out of Holland?
God KNOWS the plans He has for you and they are GOOD. Even when you where in your starry eyed know it all phase He was busy crafting your little piece of Holland.
Life doesn’t have to look like we intended it to to be beautiful. All that turbulence and extra baggage you acquired on your trip here were probably the exact things you needed to shape you into Dutch woman you now find yourself as.
Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.Isaiah 40:28-31
Today I pray that you are able to soar like an eagle over Holland and leave your Italy dreams in the dust. Trust in His plans and find the strength and endurance to explore Holland with a new found joy. (And if you are having trouble getting there, let me pray for you!)