Perfect Plan, Unforgettable Mother’s Day

Perfect Plan, Unforgettable Mother’s Day May 8, 2024

A trusting child joins her parents' perfect plan

The only gift my wife wanted for Mother’s Day that year was to take a “little journey” with our little family. Our kids were small and our bikes were old, but we had a perfect plan. We would bike 25 miles from our home outside Kalamazoo, Michigan to our Lake Michigan destination. We expected a few inevitable slight imperfections, but certainly not disaster.

A Challenging Perfect Plan

In Southwest Michigan, the beautiful Kal-Haven Trail follows the path of an old railroad, leading past picturesque fields and farms, small towns, abandoned villages, and dense forests. We would bike it in 5 hours, camp overnight, attend church in the morning, and bike back. We calculated that we could easily arrive, get our tent set up, and make s’mores before dark! But for us, the trail was to lead to much more.

I admit to being a little concerned about whether the kids would make it. Possibly I was also a little concerned how I would make it that far on a one-speed cruiser pulling my daughter with an extension.

We discovered that a “perfect plan” can quickly and easily become imperfect. We hadn’t anticipated some complications getting all of the bikes and supplies, which put our planned 10:00 a.m. departure time back until 4:00 p.m.

And timing wasn’t the only kink in the perfect plan. The wind that day was blowing so hard that we felt like we were hardly moving as we peddled. At one point along the trail, my son was stuck peddling but not moving forward at all. Finally he just slowly tipped over sideways. We all got a kick out of how crazy the wind was, but unfortunately it was not helping us keep on our greatly modified schedule.

After riding our bikes for what I’m sure seemed like an eternity to the kids, one of my older boys saw a sign on the trail that read “5 Miles.” He exclaimed, “There’s only 5 more miles to go!” I was sad to have to tell him that we had only gone 5 miles and that we still had 20 to go.

Dark Developments

The trip became frightening when darkness beat us to our destination. At that time we realized we had only brought one flashlight. Everyone got really quiet, and we all rode together behind the person in the front with the flashlight. There might have been spooky glowing eyes looking at us, or we might have imagined them. But we were not reassured.

We saw no sign of the campground along the trail. A phone call let us know we had passed the necessary turnoff a few miles earlier. Darkness can cause missteps (or “mispedals”) like that.

By this point we were tired, lost, and a little scared, with no hope of retreating to the campsite and setting up a tent. Our perfect plan was swallowed up in imperfect circumstance. Late at night, our options were running out.

So I used my phone to look up a member of the local bishopric. He came and rescued us, taking us to a hotel, with the promise of a ride to church the next morning. Afterward, he took me on a 45-minute drive to get our van, so that I could take my family, along with the bikes and equipment, home. We felt that an angel had rescued us. He didn’t realize how tempted we had been to give up before he showed up.

We have never topped that experience for excitement, twists and turns, and epic journeys with surprise endings. And the Kal-Haven Trail also blessed us with life lessons, spiritual metaphors, and testimony building experiences.

Perfect Eventually

The fate of our Mother’s Day journey reminds me of the title of a General Conference talk by Jeffrey R. Holland: “Be Ye Therefore Perfect—Eventually.” Plans and intentions also have eventually attached.

That disintegration of our perfect plan was a perfect metaphor for life. Despite careful planning, we often get started late, as we underestimate challenges or overestimate our ability. When we think the road will be smooth and easy, a strong wind or storm leaves us peddling furiously and tipping over. We may feel like we do not have the proper light or tools to deal with the problems, or it may be too late or too dark to use them. We may feel lost, alone, and threatened by dangers we begin to imagine.

But like our topsy-turvy Mother’s Day, we are blessed by someone we can depend on for strength and support, who will rescue us and take us home. I am so grateful for our Savior, who can help us overcome our challenges and obstacles. I am also grateful to my wife, my mother, mother-in-law, aunts, sisters, and the many other mother figures who are God’s angels here on earth, pointing us to Him in so many ways. I am grateful for the loving hands who have brought the love of Christ into my life.

In his “Perfect—Eventually” talk, Elder Holland concluded that for the “perfect moment” of coming home to Christ,

I continue to strive, however clumsily. For such a perfect gift, I continue to give thanks, however inadequately. I do so in the very name of Perfection itself, of Him who has never been clumsy or inadequate but who loves all of us who are, even the Lord Jesus Christ.

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