Part 2 – Living Happily in ‘Plan B’

Part 2 – Living Happily in ‘Plan B’ February 16, 2017

CindyFosterby Cindy Foster cross posted from her blog Finding Fundamental

You can find Part 1 here.

‘Plan A’ became the sum total of our utmost hopes and dreams for our children as pertaining more to their ‘Godliness’ than anything else. We assumed that ‘Godliness’ was the main ingredient to guarantee success in all their practical endeavors as well.

Our ‘Plan A’  hopes and dreams consisted of:
*smooth sailing through the teen years with no rebellion
*courting, chaperoned relationships where we the parents were involved in all aspects 
*courting-aged teens who desired only to find spouse with same beliefs as the church
*courting-aged teens willing to bypass all prospects to seek the ‘one and only’
*all waiting until marriage to touch or kiss
*all virgins when married
*all married in their church with immaculately white dresses and celebratory service
*all desiring several children (not necessarily quiver full. At least we didn’t go quite that far)
*all serving in ministry in Independent, fundamental, pre-millennial, KJV only, God-fearing, sin-hating, standard-bearing and enforcing Baptist churches that were unaffiliated, unincorporated and only performed marriages by covenant (no state marriage licenses)
*all dedicated to home schooling their children
*all abiding continually in the church’s and parent’s standards, including no pants on women,     
no shorts on men, no TV, no theatre movies, no drinking, no smoking, no dancing etc,
etc, etc.
As I write this non-exhaustive list, it is hard to believe that once upon a time, we actually expected those very narrow, restrictive ideals of all our children! 
We really thought we were on the ‘right path’ to accomplishing them.  It even looked like we were going to make it, as our oldest were in their latter teens and early twenties and still hanging in there.  
At least, so it seemed to us.
But then, that subtle, perpetual descent into legalistic beliefs produced a whirlwind that blew away most all our ‘Plan A’ hopes and dreams in one fell swoop.
Next thing we knew we were thrust into an ever evolving ‘Plan B’.
Life is so much more enjoyable when we can ‘let go‘ of all the Plan A’s we dream of attaining– devising elaborate, restrictive, obsession-driven formulas to achieve them.  It was only then, by letting go, we could find peace and happiness in the “Plan B’’ acceptance of ‘those things we could not change’.  
There simply are things in life we can not change.  
Our most expertly designed or extrapolated formulas on paper may, at most times not work at all when they involve real people with individual minds, hearts and wills.    
Grace, mercy and self-examination will likely succeed where the best laid plans and formulas of man…fail miserably. 
So, It came to me recently, that there are many accounts in the Bible where God, in his continual efforts to restore his beloved to Him, punish their disobedience or refrain from destroying them altogether, altered his original plan.
The first that I noted before, may not actually be the first.
Before the Creation, before Man, there were beings in the heavens.  I am certain I haven’t misinterpreted the account of Lucifer’s fatal pride and resulting fall from Grace.  Surely, God did not incorporate that event into his ‘Plan A’!
Then, from Lucifer’s Fall from Grace, Adam’s Fall from sinlessness to every. single. act of man thereafter, God was overseeing a ‘Plan B’ actuality.  
In actuality, ‘Plan B’ was not really a plan at all, but God’s willingness to let his beloved ‘man’ operate according to his own self-serving will with resulting natural consequences.   
At times, when wickedness was so unspeakable and prevalent, God intervened with rash judgments, but never before sounding long and loud warnings.  These acts, too, would not be part of His Perfect Plan, but the secondary plans He administered  for judging evil and beginning something new and good. 
If God, being…. well…..GOD, with power to have anything and everything be the way HE wanted, would govern His Will according to His love, mercy and grace and adjust His Plan so as to continue His pursuit for the love and devotion of His beloved man, how can we mere, mortal, feeble, near-sighted, self-serving, created human-being parents impose LESS grace and mercy on our own faltering children than God Himself did for our many errors?
It has been my fiercest, most persistent internal conflict since confronting the ingrained, entrenched beliefs of our Bible-based cult training:  Which of my children’s beliefs and behaviors I can only tolerate, which I can accept as non-issues, which actually were OUR misguided preferences, which upon reinvestigation required change on our part, and how to handle those behaviors that were unquestionably wrong.
It became necessary to pore through a countless array of beliefs, philosophies and teachings to rest on the ones that were consistent with our specific beliefs and fit our specific needs.  
It was a very day-by-day, situation-by-situation, child-by-child expedition before we were able to un-train and re-train our way of thinking and feeling.  All this while still trying to parent five children ages 9-16, and restore damaged credibility and relationships with the three older 17-21 year olds to some semblance of health. 

When all is said and done, we had come to the conclusion that we had to make a decision between two ultimate views:  If we wanted to reclaim them to our original dreams, we would have to incorporate the excessive, demanding, manipulative and ultimatum-backed control promoted by the belief system we had just left.  
We could see from lives of families still in the Baptist Taliban as well as those from similar believing churches with which we were currently connected that those methods did appear to work, for some. 

The other view and the only one with which we could conscientiously choose, was to while continuing to live out our beliefs ourselves, exercise patience, respect, mercy and grace for the personal beliefs and non-destructive behaviors  our children had adopted… as they were, while leaving those areas that were not ours to change or control… to God.
So, this was our ‘Plan B’

.  As best as I can tell from my understanding of scripture, this is as close to the way God dealt with His children from the beginning, (with the exception of those occasions He saw fit to execute His annihilating judgement on ones so wicked they had exhausted their days of grace) as we could get.  

I’d rather use His model, though it may not yield the results the controlling, authoritarian parent can claim to his record.  At least we will be able to claim it was by their choice and the decisions they make and claim for their own.


And I am happier, even in the difficulties.  Except for ‘Plan B’, these would not have been my grandchildren!  That, I do not even want to think about…. 
For those who lust after control for the sake of what they may truly believe is the ‘right’ cause, will in the end, according to scripture, receive the ‘greater condemnation.’ James 3:1.


Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network member, Cindy Foster blogs at Finding Fundamental

Cindy Foster is “Mom” to eight gorgeous, talented, temperamental, noisy, opinionated, alike-but very different kids. She has been married to their daddy, Paul, for 36 years.

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  • SAO

    What’s interesting about your list of Plan A goals is that they are all focused on externals or symbols, not the character or values of your kids. After all, many of these list items Josh Duggar met (as far as we know). He was an expert at producing the outward signs expected of him, while his inner life was totally different.

    The result of symbol-based goals is that you often end up punishing the kid who has good values, but questions the externals, while holding up the outwardly perfect as a model. I’m sure the Duggar kids all knew that Josh was nothing like he was presenting himself as.

    With a list full of one-time symbols, if one of your children decided that 1) no kissing was stupid, 2) that they didn’t want a big hoop-la for their wedding, and 3) they wanted the protection of a marriage license, you’d have failed. You might have had a big push for those things, been disappointed with your child, while all along, the kid had a good set of values, wanting a strong, committed, exclusive marriage. That kind of thing drives people away from their parents and their religion.

    In the mean time, you’re not modeling positive values for your kids. You’re not noticing and approving of things they do that express good values, because you see values as symbols, and only notice when they display the right symbols.

    With one-time symbols to meet, the kids don’t learn that sometimes humans make mistakes. They learn to hide their mistakes, because it’s not a learning experience, but a symbol of failure.

  • Friend

    It’s also a list that the enforcers believe they can observe. And parents think they can demonstrate, if not actually achieve–a crucial distinction.

    The virginity question is kind of tricky, but you can always rely on assumptions, such as: men in shorts are not virgins.

  • SAO

    For the most part, people can observe good values. Does the person help others? Do they condemn meanness, quietly turn the conversation elsewhere, do nothing, or pile on? What do their actions say?

    The problem with this is that it takes observation and the people who want to demonstrate their moral superiority find it easier to display the symbols.