Hello, my name is Darlene Gudrie Butts and I am a planner.
Almost everything I do is methodical with a timeline and set of goals attached. I mean even the mundane like cleaning up the kitchen and laundry. Yes, I have a problem and yes I should seek professional help.
This need to plan has served me well as a financial adviser and as a writer. It has kept me on task, on time, and successful at meeting a deadline. It has also prevented anything spontaneous to enter my life and change its course for a minute, an hour, or a day. I am not a “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants” kind of girl. Sometimes I think I am missing out.
I went to a writer’s conference this past week with an agenda. I knew who I wanted to meet and why, what questions I would ask, and what I wanted the end result to be. Is there any other way to approach a conference like that? I talked to so many people who were confidant that just by divine intervention they would meet who they needed to and get to where they needed to go. Really? Let go and jump into the arms of divine intervention? Scary. Yet, they seemed to be having more fun then me.
Half way through the first day I decided I needed to let go of my agenda. I needed to get out of my own way. I needed to stop thinking…NOW! So, I said a little prayer, left it in the hands of God, and went searching for some fun.
I relaxed and enjoyed meeting some great people. Because I didn’t have an agenda other than fun, I spent my time asking questions about them, not trying to spew information about me. I sat back and really listened to the speakers, enjoying their story, not worrying about mine. Then, things got weird.
First, there are sheets taped to a wall in a large room that you can sign up on for fifteen minutes with one of the faculty. This is an incredible opportunity for writers to talk to industry insiders and experienced authors. In the real world, these conversations are rare. I had signed up for several appointments and was reading through other bios. There was someone who I thought could help me, but I didn’t have my schedule to see if there was time the next day to see him. I was going to come back. No need. At lunch, in a dining room full of tables and over a hundred people, he decided to sit next to me. Now, he was supposed to sit at the table that had his name on it (which he walked by) and he had numerous seats to choose from. This meant that I was able to have a conversation with him for over thirty minutes, build a relationship, and find out things that I probably never would have in the speed-dating format in the gym.
I wouldn’t have thought so unless the same thing happened at dinner. After a workshop, for a brief moment I thought, I would like to talk to the facilitator and get to know more about her and her business. That night, I sat down at a table specifically to talk to someone else, but he was engrossed in a conversation with another writer, through the whole dinner. I let my agenda go and enjoyed talking with two fascinating writers who inspired me and reignited my passion for short stories. Just as I was about to leave the table, the facilitator from my last session sits down beside me. She had eaten at another table and then moved to ours. I didn’t dare ask why she would move, but boy did I want to. Twenty minutes later, she is giving me her secret recipe for the business she built and I am trying to seem at ease instead of awed. You know, stuff like this happens every day!
I will never know whether these two chance meetings would have happened without leaving my agenda in the hands of God. I will never know if I would have met the people I did, meetings of chance and musical chairs. I do know I don’t believe in coincidences. I do know that I would not have been able to be calm, more focused on their lives instead of promoting mine, and patient enough to let the conversation unfold naturally instead of forced if I hadn’t let go.
Knowing I am a planner, one who does need professional help, there is no question that it had to be divine intervention. Surely that is the only force that could have pried my grip off of my own agenda and let me relax into God’s.