“—It’s all a part of my forty-year plan. My goal is to be my personal best in everything I pursue, make lots of money, own the highest quality things and provide an awesome life to the people I love.” Few people could make me squirm as much as this particular dinner guest, a charismatic and high-achieving economics major and family friend whom I’ve known since we were both in braces. He seemed to have figured out exactly what he wanted out of life, and was well on his way to getting it.
Me? Not so much. Juggling my attention between the immediate needs of my cancer-stricken brother and mother, and my long-distance relationship with my fiancé, kept me feeling like I was always treading water. Add a Liberal Arts degree with few lucrative job prospects and it becomes easy to understand how little I could relate with our guest.
Most of us can align ourselves somewhere along the spectrum of these two lifestyles: the ”Planners”, who know what they want and map out exactly how they aim to get it, or the “Trusters”, who aim for constant spiritual attunement with the overarching plan a higher power has for their lives. We tend to get along well with those like ourselves, and conflict with those who differ. Is it possible to harmonize the two?
Designed for Unity through Conflict
We learn in the Divine Principle that conflicting styles are surprisingly intentional, and part of God’s master plan for optimal personal growth throughout our lives. In creating us with contrasting ways of thinking, God manifests His (and Her) fascinating dualities, and offers us the lifelong opportunity of learning from each other and meeting in the middle, ultimately returning to full resemblance of our Creator.
Bridging Our Divide
So, how can we relate this back to the conflict between Planners and Trusters? One word: co-creation.
We can think of Trusters as those who stick right to God’s heels with every step in life, preferring company and guidance to independence while traveling through life’s choices. These kinds of people might be afraid of the responsibility that comes with making one’s own choices, or they may be prioritizing the wishes of others above their own a bit too often.
Planners prefer to chart their own course and relish the adventure life holds, but they might have their nose buried too deep into their maps to see what others (especially God) might like to introduce that can make their lives even better. Both methods have their pros and cons, and the more we can emulate the pros from both, the better.
If you consider yourself a “Planner,” try spending one week keeping one question in mind: “Does this path bring me peace?” Pay attention to the feelings which arise from both the successes and setbacks of your week. Does it feel like the universe is on your side? If you perceive any sense of lacking, explore that. Might there be something new that God wants to show you?
If you consider yourself a “Truster,” try taking one concrete action step towards fulfilling your life goals, such as practicing a skill instead of simply thinking about it, or contacting someone from a field you’ve been considering, but perhaps weren’t sure was meant for you. Enjoy the sense of accomplishment you feel when you take action (hint: that’s God speaking to you!), and let it motivate you to take action again.
Co-creation means taking the time to sit down at the table with God, to get vulnerable and share our big dreams with God, but to also listen to what God wants to say. It means creating goals which balance what we want with a higher and broader purpose. Finally, it means rising from the table, heading out the door and making those goals happen—God can’t do all the work for us!
When we see our divisions as opportunities to reunite two contrasting facets of God’s heart, we discover new and exciting ways of seeing the world, and each other. What disparate elements of life do you think can actually harmonize? Share with us in the comments below!