Last night my wife and I were about to sit down and enjoy a couple of episodes of The Big Bang Theory. I’ve always loved the show, and since getting married, she’s taken a great liking to it too. We’re only on day 23 of our marriage, but somehow we’ve rushed through the first three seasons of DVD’s and are now on season four. I’m not sure how many episodes that boils down to us watching per day of our marriage, but I’m going to assume it’s higher than we would probably like to admit. The antics of Sheldon Cooper just cannot be matched. In any case, we were sitting down on the couch last night and I felt that I needed to take a moment to point something out.
“Baby, I have to tell you something,” I said looking Anna Melissa straight in the eyes. I realized I had used a bit more of a forceful tone that I had intended to use and she looked at me like I had just said something ominous.
“Okay, go ahead,” she said somewhat reluctantly. She sat back into the corner of the couch with her legs crossed in front of her, as if she was bracing for some big storm of words. We’ve had nothing but a perfectly blissful marriage so far. Perhaps she thought this would be the moment when perfection finally ceased? She furrowed her eyebrows and looked me straight on.
I apologized for sounding so drastic, and then said something that has in a real sense overwhelmed me for the past few days.
“Y’know,” I started off casually, “if you had asked me a year ago where I would be today I would have never have dreamed it would have been here with you. I had completely different life dreams, and a vision, and a plan. This is in no way part of that,” I said as I motioned around our small apartment living room. “But,” I continued, “I cannot imagine my life being any happier than I am right now. I cannot imagine being happier in any way at all, and I love you, and I’m thankful that I married you.”
That was it.
She gave me that “Awwwe Shucks” face of her’s which is adorable, and she leaned forward for a kiss. We shared a few more brief words of how happy we are together, and then the night continued on with our recorded sitcom television. Just a few seconds worth of conversation in a lifetime full of events, but what I said was true, and as I sit here today it is still echoing in my mind.
A year ago I had big plans. They involved moving back to Utah, an eventual marriage (to some unknown beauty), being a published author by the end of the year, and a goal to learn to play the guitar. Then the first Sunday in February I met Anna Melissa. There are varying accounts to how that first interaction proceeded (I was after all asking her friend out on a date when we met), but suffice it to say I married the right gal. She is the most perfect woman in the world for me and, and as I told her last night, I could not be any happier. I would not change a single thing about the previous year. But it’s funny how life just happens amidst all of our well laid plans.
A few months ago I was listening to This American Life on NPR. The story was about the Plan B’s of life. Not people’s Plan A. But Plan B. The thing that they ended up doing after their Plan A to achieve all of their hopes and dreams and when things just didn’t work out. The engaging story included the tale of Ceurvo Man, a hired personality on a small island owned by Jose Cuervo where the liquor company does elite weekend getaways. There was also a story about a man named Barry Keenan who had gotten rich at a very young age and then lost it all, only to end up trying to kidnap Frank Sinatra Jr.
“Jeez!” I thought to myself driving down the interstate to a new job I had recently started, “I’m glad my life didn’t end up like that.” Yes, I once wanted to rich and famous, but I haven’t become a felon or tried kidnapping any D-List celebrities along the way.
It turns out Mr. Keenan’s efforts to kidnap young Frank Jr. never really worked out. However, it really got me to thinking, what was my life’s Plan A? What were my hopes and dreams? Why didn’t I achieve them? And as I got to thinking I realized that I never really planned well enough for my Plan A, or B, and somehow despite my best efforts at planning I was probably somewhere between Plan Q and Plan 22.7 subsection C.
In the Mormon culture we’re always referring to The Plan of Happiness, or God’s Plan, or The Plan of Salvation. The great and epic plan for all of our lives, planned, prepared, and perpetuated since before the beginning of time. It’s the way we’re supposed to get back to God’s presence. It applies to everyone in the world and we’re bound by covenant to try and share it with the world. There is, after all, no better way to share the gospel than to invite a friend over for some Kool Aid, smile really big, and invite them to learn about The Plan of Happiness. – No. Nothing weird about that at all. – Sometimes I think we get lost in our own life plans though, planning for education, or marriage, or kids, and sometimes lose sight of God’s plan for our lives.
On September 28th of this past year in the annual Relief Society General Meeting Sister Linda K. Burton taught that covenant keeping strengthens, empowers, and protects us. She said simply,
“Covenant keeping is essential for true happiness.”
She continued by saying that covenant keeping also demonstrates our love for the Father and the Son, and that ordinances are spiritual milestones, noting that they are the crucial test of life is to see if we will make and keep covenants.
Is my life where I planned it to be a year ago, or five years ago, or even a decade ago? No. But is yours? Have all of your plans came to fruition?
Yet I’m happy. Indeed, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. And even if I am on Plan 22.7 subsection C I know that my happiness comes from obedience to the Lord, His gospel, and my covenants. I married the right person in the right place at the right time, and we could not be happier.
My life is evidence that sometimes Plan A, or Plan B just don’t work out. My life is evidence that screw ups have a chance, and that the greatest happiness in life comes from just doing the most plain and simple things we’re asked to do.
Where will me and my family be in five years? It’s hard to say. But I have no doubt that as we follow God’s plan in our lives we’ll find the greatest joy there is to be found in this life.
In the meantime, I’m sure we’ll be catching up on The Big Bang Theory.