I’m a planner. I am NOT big on surprises. Well, I guess sometimes I am. Depends on the situation.
Surprise gifts…flowers…chocolate covered strawberries..gift cards…a clean house…unexpected cash… an all expenses paid trip to somewhere amazing… those are all surprises I’m on board with.
But other things… surprise parties for instance. Not so much. Well….again it depends on the situation. If it’s been well planned out and held somewhere other than my own home and I’m wearing something really cute that day, and there’s lots of good food, then I could get on board with that. But if you happen to realize 2 days before my birthday that maybe you should do something special and invite a ton of people to our home which hasn’t been cleaned really well in a bit because we haven’t been home much and you don’t have food planned except for cake and are just completely winging it and I find out at the last minute (thank God because my house really was a disaster zone), and panic because I have one day to get my house and outdoors in order and presentable for guests when all I really want to do is sleep in and enjoy my day off, and you can’t help with ANY of it because you have to work… yeah, not a big fan of that.😂 (true story of my 40th birthday.)
He meant well y’all. But Jeff is NOT a planner, and he doesn’t always think of all the other stuff that goes along with things. He just gets an idea, decides that everything will be fine and doesn’t worry about all the little stuff. I, on the other hand, analyze EVERYTHING. Every. Little. Detail. We are literally polar opposites.
Take planning a trip for instance. When I plan a trip, I spend hours finding THE perfect place to stay. I save a list of possibilities, then go through them with a fine toothed comb. Location. Price. Gotta get the best deal. That’s super important. But also, I like luxury. If I’m gonna sleep in a bed other than my own, you better believe it has to have pretty covers. Old worn out tropical bedspreads just will not do.
I want nice furniture, updated decor, and only the prettiest, fluffiest, bedding will do. And a nice view doesn’t hurt either. The planning is fun for me, even though it can be a lot of work. I truly enjoy it, right up until it’s time to make a final decision. Because…duh, it’s FINAL. And I have to get it right, so I need to be sure. And suddenly, I start questioning my choices. And then it’s “ALL ABOARD THE STRUGGLE BUS!”
Don’t worry about buckling your safety belt, people. This bus isn’t going anywhere for a while. It’s stuck right there in the land of second guessing and indecision. 🙄
It drives Jeff a little nuts. “Just pick one. They’re all fine.” Umm, No. I’m not looking for fine. I’m looking for as close to perfect within our price range as I can get. And I’m GOING to find it. Part of it is that this is just who I am. And I’m good at it. Finding deals and such. I’m pretty sure I’d make an awesome travel agent. And part of it is just my innate need to make everything as close to perfect as possible for the people I love, and for myself. There’s a great deal of satisfaction that comes from planning the perfect getaway and then seeing it come to fruition. This is pretty much true in almost everything I do. Analyze, research, plan,second guess, start all over, narrow down, then hesitantly and anxiously force myself to make a decision. Whether it be picking out a paint color (or even just lunch😂) or planning a trip or basically any situation that requires making a decision, it’s all the same process. What are the possibilities? What are the risks? How will this affect this person or this situation? I like to be informed, and have as much information as possible to ensure that I make the best decisions I can. This can be a really good thing. It’s smart, and responsible, and all that work can create some really amazing outcomes. But it can also be a bad thing. Because sometimes our need to plan everything out and make everything perfect keeps us from the plans God has for us. Sometimes our inability or unwillingness to be spontaneous or take a risk keeps us from the unexpected blessings we might find if we would just simply say yes, instead of saying, “well maybe…..let me chart this all out first and plan out every aspect so that I can make sure everything works out for the best.”
Because in minds like mine, “no surprises” really means “no disappointments”.
And “no risks” really means “no chance of failure”.
Control equals safety.
And safety ensures happiness.
This is how the analytical, perfectionist mind works. Add to that mindset the “been blindsided and broken once and never want to go there again” aspect and the whole thing goes into OVERDRIVE.
Jeff on the other hand; he just sees something, says that would be fun, and has no problem whatsoever saying yes to it with no planning, no research… just pack up and go. This method is something my type A brain has trouble comprehending and to be completely honest, gives me a bit of a panic attack. Ok. Not a bit of a panic attack. Full on heart palpitations. My brain can’t handle it. What if in the rush I forget to pack something? What if this deal was a scam? What if it looks nothing like the pictures? What if the location is unsafe? What if this paint color is all wrong? What if the shrimp isn’t good and I wish I’d gotten the steak instead? What if ,what if , what if. But not Jeff… he just goes with it and doesn’t worry about it at all.
Recently, he did this very thing.
I’m sitting at work, and get a text from him. It’s a picture of a pretty hotel room at the beach. I, not really sure why he sent it, respond, “looks nice!” I look up the place, just for future reference, (we had talked about going to the beach at some point this year, so I assume that’s why he sent it, but we had made no definitive plans, as our main vacation goal this year is Disney). I see that it’s fairly new, and has good reviews. So I text again and say, “it has good reviews, we will have to keep this one in mind.”
He responds, “We could leave Friday and come home Saturday.”
Me: “umm, this Friday? For ONE day? We wouldn’t be able to leave until after you get off work so we wouldn’t get there until late that evening and have to check out at 11 the next morning… I don’t really want to drive 5 hours to go to bed and get up and drive back home. It looks really nice but I’d rather have a little more time than that if I’m going that far and also have more time to plan for it.”
A little time goes by.
I get another text.
Wondering if he meant to text someone else or if I’ve somehow missed a text, I say, “ok, done what???”
“I booked it. Since I have to work Friday, we will just go early Saturday and come home Sunday.”
I gotta say, I was a little teensy bit mad. Mostly anxious, but a little mad that he just booked it. He knows I like to have time to plan things out. Y’all remember my issues with control. 🙄 I have a hard time committing to anything short notice. For instance, don’t tell me at 4 that I have to go to a social event at 5 and be all social and stuff. My introvert side needs more time to transition and prepare my extrovert qualities. My brain needs a little more time to process these things and mentally prepare. That’s what it feels like anyway. It’s not really true, time to prepare or not, when I get there I’m fine, but not having time to mentally prepare or plan things out brings on anxiety. It’s more the thought of it that is the problem than the actual getting through the event itself. And I had basically less than 2 days to process that this trip was happening and get everything done. For a ONE night trip. I wasn’t really feeling like this trip was worth the stress and anxiety I was feeling.
But Jeff. He was OVER THE MOON. Not a worry in the world, y’all . He didn’t care about the ten hours we’d be spending in the car in a less than 36 hour period. He didn’t care that we knew nothing about the hotel other than the pic looked nice. He didn’t care that we didn’t have a restaurant planned out for dinner or that Kate had basically one day to find a friend that could go with her or that we had not even checked to see what the weather would be like to know if we’d even get to sit on the beach.
He was happy as a lark at the prospect of getting up at 4 am, spending a few hours on the beach, eating some seafood and then waking up the next day and driving ALLLL the way back home. Happy as a lark, I tell ya.
Sometimes I really wish I was more like him in this sense. The lightness of being able to just get up and go, sights unseen, things unplanned, and see where it takes you. Not worrying about disappointing anyone or being disappointed or things not going as planned. Just saying “hey this could be good”, and hoping for the best and having the ability to do that and not have the least bit of anxiety about it at all. I’m envious of it, truth be told.
But in reality, this type of personality can have its drawbacks too. The ability or even just the tendency to make decisions in the moment, without thinking about all the possible outcomes or consequences…in certain situations can be a really bad thing. I think it’s part of the reason the affair happened so easily for him. He wasn’t thinking about the details of how this could affect his life or anyone else’s. He wasn’t analyzing the consequences. He just made a decision in the moment. A really, really bad one.
There are good points and bad points to both the spontaneous personality and the planner personality. So it’s extremely important to recognize how our tendencies can be used for our benefit and the benefit of others yet also be aware of where and when we need to reign them in to avoid the negative sides of our personality types and not allow them to keep us from living our best life.
So. Back to this impromptu one night trip to the beach. I wasn’t super excited about it. I love the beach. LOVE it. But the thought of all those hours in the car, the very little time I had to get things ready and packed, all for just a few hours on the beach… I just wasn’t thrilled about it. After a full day of a good bit of anxiety, maybe a little snarkiness… sorry Jeff, and the fact that the reservation was non refundable, I decided I may as well get on board with this overnight trip because it was happening. I decided to just focus on enjoying what little time we would have to sit on the beach.
We left the house at 4 AM. Arrived around 10:30, but the time zone there is an hour ahead so we gained an hour. Yay for extra beach time! We took our beach chairs out by the water, plopped ourselves down in them and sat right there watching the birds fly over and listening to the sound of the waves and soaking up every ounce of sunshine until the wind got a little too chilly to stay out any longer. And in that moment, I have to say, it was glorious. Worth every minute we spent in that car. And I was glad he had made that spontaneous decision that I’d been so anxious about the day before. I looked over at him and said, “ok bud, I gotta hand it to ya, you did good.” Our room was beautiful, with perfect white fluffy covers on the bed and an amazing view. While sitting on the beach, I figure out that our friends’ new beach house is literally a couple of blocks down from our hotel. We text and decide to go over and have a visit after dinner. We find a restaurant nearby to get that seafood dinner Jeff had been craving. Then Jeff and I walk over to meet our sweet and fabulous friends. As we sit on their porch, we notice one of the cars sitting in their driveway is the exact car Kate has been saying she wants. She’s turning 16 soon, and we had been looking for a used car to get for her. We had only found a couple so far that met our specifications and those, although being within our maximum price limit, were more than we really hoped to spend and were being sold by car dealerships we weren’t real confident in the trustworthiness of.
We start chatting and ask how they like the car. They say “oh it’s been a great car. We really have liked it. But we are kind of wanting something newer so I’m taking it to my brothers dealership to get him to sell it for me tomorrow.”
Jeff and I look at each other.
“You’re selling it? Tomorrow?”
Yep. After asking what they wanted for it, we go on to tell them that that is the specific car that we’d been looking for and maybe you don’t have to take it to the dealership and could just sell it to us!
I mean seriously, y’all. What are the odds?
The next morning before heading out, we go by to let Kate check out the car.
I wish y’all could have seen the way her face lit up the minute she saw it.
We had told her to just have a look and that if she wasn’t sure it was what she wanted we would keep looking.
The minute she saw it she said “That IS my car.” She took it for a test drive, and when she got back, she said, “This is my car. I just feel it. It just feels right, like this is supposed to be mine.”
So we went home, took care of all the paperwork, and a week later we met to pick up the car. Just look at this face. Pure joy.
You guys. Do you even fully understand what happened here? Jeff randomly spots a hotel deal online. Books it spontaneously and gives me a panic attack because , hello, obsessive planner over here. 🙋🏻♀️ We drive 5 hours, and find that our friends live literally across the street from where we are. We end up walking over later, and they have the exact car Kate is interested in. AND lo and behold, they are planning on taking it to sell the VERY next day. Now let’s add to that the fact that it’s a great price, been well taken care of, and these are people that we know and can trust implicitly on the quality of the car we are getting. Then add to that the instant connection Kate felt from the moment she laid eyes on it.
I don’t care who you are, there’s not a person on this planet that could convince me that every aspect and detail of this impromptu trip to the beach was not planned out to the letter by God Himself. There we were, on a trip that I never would have agreed to, in that specific hotel at that specific beach across from these amazing friends that just happened to have the EXACT car Kate wanted and just happened to be planning to sell it it the very next day. And at a perfect price point within our budget.
We were meant to be at that specific place, at that specific time, so that we could receive the blessing God had set out for us.
Y’all. That’s how much he loves us. THIS is how loved we are. He wants every good thing for us. He wants us to have the desires of our hearts. In this case, it was the very car Kate dreamed of.
You’ll never convince me that these things are coincidental.
Thinking back over this chain of events, I came to a huge realization. How many times does He have a perfect plan set out for me, and I get in His way? How many blessings do I miss out on by trying to make sure everything makes sense and is perfectly planned out the way I think it should be?
Maybe you are spontaneous and worry free like Jeff. Maybe sometimes that gets you into trouble if you’re not careful, and maybe other times it serves you and the people you love very well. Or maybe you’re more like me. A careful planner, intentional and rational and a bit of a perfectionist. Some might even use the words control freak, but I prefer the words cautious or analytical thinker… they just sound nicer and less crazy. Ha. 🤣 And maybe being such an over thinker serves you and the people you love very well also, but it probably also brings a lot of limits to your life, and keeps you from experiencing a lot of the unexpected good things that you might find if you weren’t so busy trying to plan and control everything all of the time.
Jeff and I in a lot of ways are complete opposites. It can be a problem in a relationship if you focus on those negative sides of our polar opposite personality types. But if you focus on the positive aspects, our different personalities can create a good balance.
Jeff has a tendency to be a spur of the moment, not think everything through decision maker. And he still leans towards that with the fun stuff like trips and such. But since his affair, he has learned to think beyond the moment in situations that really matter. In situations that affect not just his life but the effects of his decisions on the happiness and wellbeing of others.
Balance. There’s a balance there now that was missing before.
I overthink everything. I rarely make a spur of the moment decision. I NEED to know everything first. Uncertainty is the scariest thing in the world to me. But it shouldn’t be.
Because even if everything is uncertain, one thing is certain. God is good. He is So good.
And He has all kinds of good surprises for us. I can plan out every moment and try to control every situation in my life and I’ll find a lot of goodness there. Because that’s how good He is. He knows my heart and loves me so much that He is going to bring goodness to me even when I’m standing in His way. But it’s the times that I let go, and go with the flow of things, stepping outside of my control, and out of His way, that He really shows out.
So balance is key to that. Being true to the planner and analyzer that I am because that’s how he made me, and I believe He uses that to lead me where I need to be sometimes, but also allowing the unplanned to have a place in my life too.
Because His plans are always better than mine. Always.
I think although I drive Jeff crazy with my decision making processes, he’s somewhat thankful for it sometimes because it can help to keep us out of trouble and sometimes leads to the very best things for us. And although it always initially gives me some anxiety, I’m thankful to have a husband that makes spontaneous decisions sometimes that force me to do things I would have said no to. Because sometimes those places outside of our comfort zones are the places we find our biggest blessings or purposes.
The key to happiness is finding the balance.
Sometimes it’s taking a minute to consider the consequences and effects of your decisions on yourself and others.
Sometimes it’s knowing when to let go of control.
Sometimes it’s stepping out of your comfort zone.
Sometimes it’s saying no to the things that can bring pain to others.
Sometimes it’s saying yes without having to have everything planned out.
Mostly for me, it’s learning to simply get out of God’s way and let him do what He does best. It’s knowing that it’s ok to make super informed decisions , and it’s ok to make detailed plans, but that I should always LEAVE SOME ROOM.
I should always make sure to leave some space for God to show me His plans. Because it’s in that space that we find the best gifts, the greatest joys, and our very best life.
Amy Thurston Gordy