What Happens When the Best-Laid Plans of Mice and Men Go Awry?

“I have a plan for my morning—run by the store to pick up a side for dinner and some dish soap, then head to a meeting.

So after I brush my teeth and help Jonathan get the kids off to their activities, I get dressed quickly and eat breakfast. I throw on my favorite corduroy coat, hoist my computer bag over my shoulder, and head toward the door. I go to grab the car keys on the entry table that we bought (and painted robin’s egg blue) for the express purpose of having a spot for keys. Next to the jar of dried lavender and stack of mail are two key rings that hold the keys to the car, the house, and our neighbor’s house, as well as a couple others the purpose of which I’ve forgotten (but I keep holding on to them because you never know).

Cue the sound of screeching brakes. The keys aren’t there.

I check the side pocket of my bag, then the pants I wore yesterday, then my bag again. I start to panic a little. I take off my coat. I walk into my kitchen and look on the counter. 

I have lost my keys. With them goes all sense of perspective. With them goes my plan; with them goes my cool. These instruments that I use for security and freedom—to lock out bad guys and get where I need to go—have suddenly become a means of imprisonment. I’m stuck.”

Where could they be?

Tish Harrison Warren tells us what happens next in her book Liturgy of the Ordinary, Sacred Practices in Everyday Life, and goes on to describe her very own “Stages of Searching for Lost Objects”:

  • Logic. This is all about retracing steps—Tish describes looking again in places she’s been, all the while trying to breathe, remain calm, and stay rational.
  • Self-condemnation. As the author is retracing her steps and searching in various places around her home, she is telling herself that she is “such an idiot!”
  • Vexation. With every second that passes Tish gets increasingly frustrated and angry, even cursing! She alternates between blaming herself, others, and yes, even God.
  • Desperation. It has been nine minutes. Will she be trapped forever?
  • Last-ditch. She stops and prays, asking God to restore her perspective. She even manages some positive self-talk.
  • Despair. She plops on the couch. She will never find her keys. Her quest is hopeless. She is hopeless. She will, indeed, be trapped here forever. Or, at least until she and Jonathan “shell out the money to replace them.”

Then she writes this:

Outside the window, by my locked car, are naked trees and hopping sparrows, but I will not notice.


Noticing is the spiritual discipline of intentionally paying attention. But surely, as Tish so perfectly describes, our everyday lives are filled with obstacle after obstacle that will keep us from doing so.

Losing our keys is one of so, so many examples.

What keeps you from being able to notice?
What are your own preoccupations and distractions that keep your focus so myopic?
Will you give them over to The One who is able to take your focus from yourself and turn it toward His continuous activity in our world? What—who—does He want YOU to notice?

God will answer this prayer.

And you’ll be on your way to aligning yourself with God’s “best-laid plan,” as your vision becomes His.