by Joyce and Barry Vissell
We human beings try very hard to control our lives by careful planning and scheduling. And when things do not work out according to our well-made plans and schedules, we often feel disappointed, or even punished. And yet there is a higher plan at work.
I have talked with several young teachers who plan to get pregnant and have their babies the end of June so that they can begin their school year again in September. I listen to these carefully made plans, knowing that a baby has its own schedule. Perhaps the conception does not happen for six months, or the baby is three weeks early at the very busiest time of school. I smile when I hear such elaborate plans, knowing that life does not work on such a schedule, and that part of life on earth is to teach us to be flexible.
The timing of meeting your future partner may also cause frustration and anxiety. You may feel completely ready and are praying and hoping to meet this special person, and it does not seem to be happening. Years might even go by and you may feel such great sadness in the waiting process. And yet perhaps the person destined to be with you is finishing up school or business in another part of the world and the timing is not yet right for you to meet. When the time is right, you are brought together and the waiting period does not seem to matter at all.
I had a different kind of plan that seemingly went all wrong, but in the end I realized it was perfect. After five years of not being able to breed puppies, we wanted to have another litter of our beloved Golden Retrievers. We have owned goldens for over forty-three years, and it brings us great joy to have a litter of high quality puppies, give them extra amounts of love and care, and then see the joy that they bring to their new owners. We bought an exceptional female Golden Retriever puppy and named her Rosie. We then waited the two years for her to be old enough to get her health clearances and breed. Our friend George had the perfect male to breed with Rosie, and he very much wanted one of the puppies. After he had all of the health clearances done on his dog, we settled in to wait for her next heat (breeding time), approximately in the beginning of March. We were ready and had daily calls with George to check in.
March came and went and no heat. It was extremely unusual for a female to go longer than seven months until her next heat, and now we were going on eight. April came and went as well as May. Our vet thought that perhaps we had missed a false heat and we would now have to wait six more months.
We returned from a ten day trip in the beginning of June to discover that Rosie had probably come into her heat over a week before. Within two days, progesterone tests targeted the perfect day for breeding, and George’s dog, Willy, visited and the two dogs bred. Had we come home four days later, we would have missed the opportunity all together.
The puppies were born on the anniversary of George’s mother’s death a year earlier. Rather than that day being a very sad one, it was indeed a very happy day for George as he felt he was being given the gift of a new life in his little puppy. He was convinced his mother had planned it this way for him.
The puppies stayed with us for seven and a half weeks and left, right on perfect puppy schedule, just two days before we left our home for three weeks of work in Europe. Had they not been ready to leave for their homes, it would have been almost impossible to find someone willing to stay in our home and care for them the way we were caring for them with constant attention and love. The timing, as it worked out, was impeccably perfect, even though for the months of March, April and May I felt so disappointed in the delay.
On our last day in Assisi, Italy, a few days ago, we were surprised by another delightful higher plan. We had decided to go to the Basilica of St. Francis before beginning our journey to the airport and back home. This is a very special place where the body of St. Francis is buried. We had hoped to go at 7:30, but kept being delayed and didn’t leave for the church until 7:45. As we approached the room that held the tomb, I noticed a young priest approach the altar. I have to admit, my first reaction was disappointment. I had so hoped to spend these precious minutes with Barry in complete silence. Then, to my surprise, he held out his arms and said to us, “Welcome!” He not only spoke English, but he was also American. All of the other priests that we had seen at this church were older, spoke only Italian, and didn’t smile much. This one was still in his twenties, the age of St. Francis when he started his ministry. He truly had the spirit of St. Francis and even looked like how we imagined him to look, smile, and even laugh. He spoke to us and the five other English-speaking people about how St. Francis found God in nature, which is what is so dear to our hearts as well. We felt so blessed by being in his presence and felt as if it truly was a gift to us of welcoming and love from St. Francis. Had we gone to the church fifteen minutes earlier as planned, we would have come and gone and not had this blessing.
We try to plan our lives so carefully, and yet we need to always know that there is a greater plan at work. When you are disappointed when your life does not go according to your plan, just wait and see what wonderful things are planned for you.
Here are a few opportunities to bring more love and growth into your life, at the following longer events led by Barry and Joyce Vissell: Feb 2-9, 2014—Hawaii “Couples in Paradise” Retreat; Jul 20-25, 2014—Breitenbush Hot Springs Summer Retreat for individuals, couples, and families; and Oct 14-20, 2014—Living from the Heart in Assisi, Italy.
Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors near Santa Cruz, CA, who are widely regarded as among the world’s top experts on conscious relationship and personal growth. They are the authors of The Shared Heart, Models of Love, Risk to Be Healed, The Heart’s Wisdom, Meant to Be, and A Mother’s Final Gift.
Call Toll-Free 1-800-766-0629 (locally 831-684-2299) or write to the Shared Heart Foundation, P.O. Box 2140, Aptos, CA 95001, for free newsletter from Barry and Joyce, further information on counseling sessions by phone or in person, their books, recordings or their schedule of talks and workshops. Visit their web site at SharedHeart.org for their free monthly e-heartletter, their updated schedule, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationship and living from the heart.