From Breakdown to Breakthrough - Encouragement for Today - May 18, 2018

Amy Carroll

May 18, 2018
From Breakdown to Breakthrough

“To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue.” Proverbs 16:1 (NIV)

I hummed a tune while putting the finishing touches on dinner and the table. Some neighbors were coming to dinner, one set of new friends and one set of old, and I tingled with anticipation.

Suddenly my phone dinged, and my dear friend texted, asking me what time we were coming over. She also requested that I bring some salad dressing with me.

What? My mind spun in confusion. They’re supposed to be coming here, I thought. I picked up the phone, calling her to straighten the tangle, but she was as confused as I was.

In the midst of multiple phone calls and texts to plan the time with our new neighbors, my friend and I had gotten our wires crossed. Her house was decorated and ready with food in the oven — just like mine!

With irritation boiling below the surface, I asked her if I could think for a moment and call her back. Truthfully, my initial reaction wasn’t great. This is my party! After all this work, I want everyone at my house.

It took me a few minutes to struggle my selfishness to the ground, but thankfully I shushed my thoughts and asked the Lord what He thought.

“You can choose to push your plans, or you can prioritize the friendship. You can’t do both,” I felt Jesus whisper to my heart.

My heart wavered in the choice. I really, really wanted my own way. I could think of lots of reasons why my plans should prevail. The 3-year-old part of my brain was on the brink of throwing a tantrum, but I knew that wouldn’t produce the results I wanted.

After all, I love my sweet friend deeply, and I didn’t want anything to come between us. In the deepest part of me, the Spirit moved, and God shifted my motives until I desired a breakthrough, not a breakup.

Suddenly, I remembered a fun idea for an evening with friends, and I called her back with a revised set of plans.

“How about we make this a progressive dinner?” I asked my friend. “We’ll walk around the corner to your house and bring our side dishes. After eating the main meal at your house, we’ll walk back to mine for coffee and dessert. What do you think?”

My friend loved the idea, so we set off on a short walk to spend a long evening basking in the company of our friends.

I want to take a short pause here to praise Jesus for growth in my life. In the past, I wouldn’t have responded so graciously. I’m a planner, and woe to anyone who messes with the plan. But God’s ways are always better than our plans, and Proverbs 16:1 is true: “To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue.”

I’m thankful that in the tangle of upended plans, God pointed me not only to the priority of friendship but gave me the words and a solution for our problem.

The time with our friends that evening was even more fun than if we’d eaten at one house or the other. Our progressive dinner provided additional opportunities to enjoy the warmth of each other’s homes and laugh about how easily miscommunication happens.

When our best-laid plans go awry, we can agonize or ask God to give us an apt word and a fresh solution. That night’s happy ending built my faith, and next time, I know I’ll be able to turn to God more quickly for the right words to turn things around.

Lord, help me hold the plans I create with open hands, ready to flex with grace. Thank You for promising to give us wise words that preserve relationships. We’re grateful that You help us prioritize friendship when miscommunication derails our carefully crafted schedules. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” (NIV)

Desiring perfect outcomes can be the source of great stress and strained relationships. For more lessons in choosing relationships over perfection, buy a copy of Amy Carroll’s book Breaking Up with Perfect today.

Visit Amy’s blog for three fabulous giveaways today!

Are you a planner? How do you usually react when your plans shift?

What steps can you take to pre-decide to respond with grace when someone stands in the way of your plans? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

Write today’s key verse, Proverbs 16:1, and keep it somewhere easily accessible like your purse or a bathroom mirror. Be ready to read and repeat it when your plans change and your stress level rises.

© 2018 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105

Originally published Friday, 18 May 2018.