For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, Plans for your welfare not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope. (Jeremiah 29: 11)
Plans: I have always been a planner. When I was a child, every single year, I would start planning my birthday party months in advance. I would have a theme with decorations, food, costumes, and entertainment to fit within that theme. I would even begin to imagine conversations and how people would act and what they would say. Needless to say, when things didn’t work out according to my elaborate plans, I would end up hysterical and unable to enjoy the party at all.
Things have improved quite a bit with my ability to accept change, but I still love to plan. In fact, I have a color-coded calendar so that I always to make sure I have a good balance of work and fun activities for both my daughter and me – especially when it comes to sharing all of the treasured traditions that I have come to love over the years. Even so, I still find that I struggle with disruptions in my plans. Well, this year our plans for Christmas had a major upheaval when my daughter and I both tested positive for COVID on December 16th.
My daughter was completely asymptomatic whereas my symptoms felt more like a bad cold that triggered my asthma (as colds always do). On the 17th, we had plans to attend The Nutcracker with my daughter’s class. Santa was visiting her school, she had purchased a Secret Santa gift for a little girl in her class, and she had plans for gifts for her teachers. I purchased nonrefundable tickets to the New England Aquarium and had lists of things I wanted to do during our fun time together during her two weeks of winter break. Most importantly we were going to have Christmas Day with my rather large family and my parents. Now those plans were all either cancelled or at least drastically altered.
I was so disappointed, but the real hurt came at seeing my daughter’s disappointment. She began hysterically sobbing as soon as we saw the positive results appear on our home test. She grieved plans with her class and being able to see them again before vacation. Then suddenly her grief turned to fear, she looked at me terrified and asked, “Momma, are you going to die?” You see, her Nana had contracted COVID last Christmas and she never really recovered and on April 1st of this year she went home to our Lord. I assured my daughter as much as I could that I didn’t feel very sick and I was going to do everything that my doctor told me to in order to get better as quickly as possible. Thankfully this was enough to calm her fears at least for the evening.
Over the next 10 days of quarantine my daughter remained without symptoms while my breathing was the biggest struggle I had, though it wasn’t even as bad as it had been on numerous occasions during my lifetime. I would pray daily for the strength to make wonderful memories with my daughter and tried to find ways to adjust the ones we had in order to still allow her many opportunities to celebrate the season properly.
We were both saddened by not being able to attend Mass on Christmas Eve – my daughter was supposed to sing in the children’s choir this year. We were so blessed to be able to watch our parish Mass on the big screen projector in our living room and even more blessed when her Godfather, who is a priest, gave us the tremendous gift of bringing Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament so that we could receive physically our Lord in the Eucharist. When we were watching the Mass on screen and it got to the point of Communion she closed her eyes, smiled, and said, “I am so glad we were able to really receive You today.” This was a sentiment that my heart echoed as well.
During this time of quarantine I have reflected quite a bit on all of the changed plans that our Lady experienced even in those early days of Jesus’ birth. I am sure she didn’t plan to be far from home, without a room or family to help her during the birth of her baby, in a stable, visited by shepherds, visited my Magi, fleeing to Egypt because Herod wanted her son killed…. the list goes on and on. Yet her words were, “My soul magnifies the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” I found myself on multiple occasions asking her to help me accept the changes that were happening to my plans in the same way. I asked her to help me learn to rejoice in knowing that no matter how many of my plans fail, God’s plans never do, nor will He ever forsake me or leave me alone to face whatever lies ahead. She helped me to see these changes to my plans as a beautiful opportunity to surrender to God’s plans, which ended up being one of the greatest gifts I have ever received.
Thank you, God, for always having greater plans than I can even imagine and for always loving me better than I can comprehend.
Christine Dufresne has been a Promised Pauline Cooperator for 5 years. Originally from New Bedford, MA, she served at a mission in Kentucky for 16 months before moving back to MA where she currently lives in Norwood. In addition to being a foster parent, she has been working with children in various ways for the past 25 years, helping with the children’s program on retreats and with the Holy Family Institute group in Boston, and is currently a nanny for several families. She serves as a Eucharistic minister in her home parish of St. Catherine’s in Norwood. Most recently she has completed her studies and is awaiting graduation with her Bachelor’s in Psychology/Human Services. She has embarked on latest part of her journey to adoption from foster care of a sweet seven year old little girl. God is Good!!!