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Plan B Ahead

I was unfamiliar with Tim Kimmel's writing before In Praise of Plan B, but I anticipated reading this book when I received it from Zondervan. The introduction pulls the reader in with a string of what if situations in which the best possible situation arises only to be disappointed with the outcome. Kimmel is trying to relate the stark reality that many of our dreams and hopes don't turn out to be the Plan A we dreamed of, but sink back into the shadows of Plan B. Yet, this change of plans is not to our defeat. Chapter 1 tells the story of George Bailey, the main character in It's a Wonderful Life. His life is filled with disappointment after challenge after taking his father's business over. On the verge of suicide, an angel Clarence meets him to show him all that he has done for the community. Kimme writes, "Our daily decisions and actions have far-reaching effects we will never see" (25). Every life bears out its significance not in the grand visions but in the small things we do.

I found the chapter entitled 'I Don't Do Dishes' to be one of the best chapters in the book. Kimmel is relating a husband's disdain for doing the dishes at marriage counseling time in this chapter. After talking about how most of the truly great people consistently do the things they don't want to regardless he says, "I'd suggest you'd dump the "what's in it for me?" notion altogether. Althought it's proven to be the drug of choice for a narcissistic society, it has also proven to be one of the great destroyers of long-term relationships" (78). The me-me laced attitude of our society breeds a people who are not only uncaring but our bent on relying on no else, and in turn face the loss of relationship on a daily basis. Kimmel is right to point out that doing the things that we don't necessarily enjoy moves our hearts from a static orientation to a transformative life. At the very least, what I got our of this chapter was an attitude of service and humility fosters our closest relationships toward love of God and each other.

I thought that the chapter on My Criminal Record was unique in that it pointed out a personal story that had hard consequences for one of Kimmel's friends in school. I think Kimmel's wisdom is worth quoting here, "..don't circumvent the negative consequences of your children's foolish actions" (102). In other words, don't let your kids get away with murder. The duty of parents is to raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord and this includes consequences for actions that are deemed inappropriate. Yet, I do think that one issue Kimmel could have raised is the idea that we need to teach and model to our kids wisdom and a sense of how we should act in life. This goes a long way even when faced with issues at school and sports that we haven't addressed specifically. I remember painiting the garage after coming home after curfew without calling and feeling like I've learned my lesson this time, I will never do this again. Kimmel seems to point out that children who don't get any consequences push the limits too far because they have no reference point of what is wrong and what is right.

The chapter about the Valentine's Dress was important for me in that I can already see this kind of thing happening down the road with my daughter. The dress his daughter had bought was pretty but too short and revealing. Kimmel's message was that we as parent have to be able to stand upon our convictions, in this case, a short dress means come play with me. Secondly, we don't have to be tyrannical about our convictions but must exercise grace to our children. Lastly, I think his message could also be pointed out that parents make decisions for their kids for their good and not just to keep them from the world.

Overall, I thought the book was a good introduction into how to live when our dreams seem to go south. Overall, I got the feeling that the book was a good window into struggling with failure and not allowing pain to disable our lives. The sections regarding parenting and family stories related well with me being a young parent and already seeing signs of conflict with the culture and raising children.This book could be read by singles, parents, anybody broken at the altar of shattered dreams and others.

Thanks to Zondervan for the review copy.


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