Monday 1 July 2024

Lack of positive life planning - A frustrating deficit, but in accord with destiny

I have always, both before and after being a Christian, found it easy to know that I was doing the wrong thing (and, to a lesser extent knowing what I shouldn't do) - but very bad at discerning my proper future path.

Although I have known plenty of people who mapped out their lives and stuck to, and sometimes accomplished, their plans - I always thought they were making a serious mistake.

Nowadays I regard my inability - my personal deficit - as (through no virtue of mine!) in accordance with the real nature of the human condition.

We are supposed to be committed to those we love (at least, within the inevitable constraints of mortal life), but beyond that we sin by living for our future planning - and this is indeed one of the cankers poisoning the heart of human civilization.

Something maybe inevitable but a necessity we ought to repent rather than praise.


NLR said...

I agree. It's definitely easier to know what not to do than to know what to do. And then not making a decision is itself a choice to continue with things as they are.

Definitely no easy answers

I think in the past often people did have either (or both of) internal intuition and external guidance. But many now have the same problem of not knowing what to do, but they ignore it. Rather than looking for an answer, they just do what's "obvious" or "inevitable". It's disappointing, but at this point people don't even seem to be able to imagine anything good - it's all various flavors of technocratic totalitarianism and the only difference is who is in charge.

Bruce Charlton said...

@NLR - Looking back, destiny does seem to have had a hand in presenting good possibilities, in making positive choices available; and in making me fail to achieve several things that it would have been bad for me to succeed in. But this is in retrospect, and it usually felt like "thrashing around" at the time!

Mia said...

This idea of more-or-less just following where love leads really rang true to me. I am an extreme planner, and I follow through, and I've always been highly repulsed by the anti-planning crowd (they are invariably in practice just hedonists)...but midway through life and post-conversation...I just can't see any of my plans as really *that* terribly important except insofar as they are an expression of the love I have for specific individuals. And when that is the case, whether the plans play out as envisioned or not the result is always good (not always materially good but spiritually and ultimately good).

A timely post for me, giving me lots to think on. Thanks!

Robert Smith said...

Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom;
Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene—one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor pray’d that thou
Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path; but now,
Lead thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years.

So long thy pow’r hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone.
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!

--John Henry Newman, 1801–1890