The conversation went something like this:
Me: You’re out of rehab! How was it?
“Mary”: You know, I’m glad to be done. They treated me so well and I’m walking again. Boy, there were some people there who just forgot that we are all in this together and they used foul language but I just try to remember that getting upset doesn’t solve anything anyway.”
I left this brief 2 minute conversation thinking, ‘that’s one resilient lady; I want to be like her when I’m 80.’ She was resilient and optimistic.
My best guess landing in a rehab center wasn’t her Plan A. It wasn’t a vision of her best life, her ideal self, or her desired way of spending time. But she was willing to embrace this new twist in her life of plan B as something she could manage and get through. She saw in others how they clung to Plan A and thus struggled to accept the situation.
We all have Plan A – getting into the college of our dreams, or days spent in retirement golfing, or even how a difficult conversation with our spouse/partner or child will turn out. But life doesn’t guarantee that it will be Plan A’s all the way through.
I've had the incredible blessing of working with or even observing people who demonstrate a strong capacity to 'roll with the punches.' Maybe you have too. When we are nimble and flexible emotionally we can have a plan B that doesn't feel second fiddle; it might be different from what we were planning but we can still find purpose and meaning there; we can still find the blessings of God there. God is really good as plan B's - because God is always looking for a way for us to know God's love, to use our gifts, and to walk in wholeness. I think of Joseph's whole journey being thrown into a cistern, being sold into slavery by those who were intended to love him, being in a foreign prison, and how God was working. Joseph sums it up by saying, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" (Gen. 50:20).
Resiliency and optimism, products of vulnerability help us with the plan B.
So what exactly are resiliency and optimism?
Brene Brown’s and Martin Seligman’s research are so helpful. They’ve learned that resiliency is our ability to bounce back; to feel the hard things but to know we will get through it – it sounds like going for the Plan B or C or D or E. The huge piece is that when we are resilient we believe we can affect positive change in our lives and we set achievable goals and then work towards those desired outcomes. Resiliency says, “I’m not done yet, I can figure this out, and I’m going to get to work now.” That's the bounce-back-ability part.
In our family we talk all the time about being Plan B-ers. For us, it is intricately tied to faith and trust. And it has proved a helpful mantra when we arrive at the MN History Museum on a Monday only to find that the museum is closed! Then we say to our children, "Hey, we are Plan B-ers, we can figure this out, how about the Children's Museum?" And off we go!