I have lost track of the number of times things haven't gone as I planned and in turn lead to much better results. I have gone through my own personal version of the pride cycle many a time.The Poppe Pride Perennial has been known to go through the following steps:
1. I create a meticulous plan that generally spans from the moment I pen it until approximately the end of eternity.
2. Shortly thereafter, something doesn't go as I said it should.
3. I get frustrated and begin to believe that nothing will ever go right.
4. I pray and have a one sided rant session with Heavenly Father.
5. I feel guilty and repent for my lack of faith and slightly angry mental tone in step 4's prayer.
6. I decide to live life and see what happens now that things are going Heavenly Father's way and not my own.
7. I always come to find that Heavenly Father's plan allowed for my wishes as well as His.
8.1. I feel more guilt because I realize that I am happier than I would have been if my life followed my plan...
8.2...so I repent some more and add in a lengthy gratitude list.
9. I rededicate myself to trusting Heavenly Father and promise that I will never doubt His hand in my life again.
10. Repeat steps 1-9.
The largest examples of this have been when I moved to Minnesota in high school, went to BYU, and came on a mission. All were things I didn't want to do at the outset and turned out to be the biggest blessings in my life. As I have been serving a mission I have made it a goal to leave the field with 100% faith in Heavenly Father's plan for me. I have worked very hard to cut out steps 2-8.1 of the PPP and instead focus immediately on being grateful for the path my life has taken. A part of this growth cycle has included looking for the hand of Heavenly Father in other people's lives in the scriptures. This lead me to a unique observation while viewing a Nativity film this year.
As I watched Joseph lead a swollen and fatigued Mary through the crowded street of Bethlehem I started to day dream because the story was so familiar. Luckily I snapped back to attention as Joseph knocked on the door of an inn and was immediately shown the crowd of people and told that there was no room. For the first time in my life I found myself thinking that it was a blessing that they weren't admitted into an inn. I'm sure that delivering a child in a stable was not in Mary's birth plan, but it sure beat delivering the son of God in a rambunctious and over occupied hotel. How often do we think of the humble circumstances of the Lord's birth without associating it with the blessing it turned out to be for Mary and Joseph? They were able to privately absorb all that was happening to them. It isn't mentioned in scripture, but I imagine Mary's heart brimming with gratitude that her plan was exchanged for something better. No awkward onlookers, no Roman tax collectors, no nosy women trying to give unnecessary advice. Nothing. Nothing but two new parents, a host of angels, a handful of quiet livestock, and the spirit. It wasn't ideal, but it was exactly what the young couple needed to peacefully start their lives as the earthly caregivers of the first gift to humankind. It wasn't the Marriott, but Mary did deliver the Prince of Peace in a 5 star stable and that quiet delivery has given all of us the opportunity to return to our own 5 star mansions above.
Merry Christmas all! If you haven't already, explore this great Christmas website.