chess is one of those games that i have always desired to be better at but never am. i love anything strategy and feel as a whole chess provokes much more thought (and anxiety) than checkers or a video game.
i believe i enjoy the board game for many reasons. the history alone dates back hundreds of years and still it is a prevalent game in some circles currently. i am partial to the fact that it has an almost ‘outcast’ stigma attached. as in if you were in the chess club as opposed to the football team you were considered on the lower echelon of the socially excepted. yet most chess players usually hire the football players years down the road, funny how life works out as so.
however, i think my favorite reason for appreciating the game is that in chess one of the keys to victory (or check mate) is to always think 2-3 moves ahead. at least that’s the goal. you begin to place your pieces in strategic settings and hope that you will find an opening or an advantage in the game. it doesn’t always work out the way that you would hope, usually your opponent catches on, perhaps you make a mistake and it doesn’t go according to your original design, or you miscalculate and have to begin all over again and re-strategize during the game.
but i feel life could benefit from the same thinking; i am not underestimating the fact that people attempt to plan out their lives, i think a lot of us think 2-3 steps ahead (or at least we should). the problem perhaps is not in the failure to plan but in the fact we become discombobulated if we make a mistake and it doesn’t go according to our original thought or we miscalculate and have to begin all over again and re-strategize.
life is not over when we don’t accomplish our original goal. it is time to think again, to create new hopes for the future. to think 2-3 moves ahead but in another area of our lives, explore what life is trying to teach us or reshape our vision for the future around what passions we are excited about currently.
it is an unpredictable world, and maybe that accounts for not only the excitement of these days but the turmoil as well. but don’t lose hope, begin to place the pieces to this game called life in strategic places, and when it doesn’t work out right away look for another opening.
this post was inspired by my sister ruth.


Emy Augustus said…
it's funny but being good at chess gets so equated with 'smartness' .. hence why i get all anxious and competitive when playing with my (younger) sister.
Sarah A. Miller said…
great advice...i'm currently at that stage where my 2-3 steps in advance is NOT going to work. i need to re-evaluate my goals and come up with a new plan now.

i might pass this on to some others... I'm a photojournalist in Michigan, and most of our newspapers are taking a big hit. Jobs lost, papers shutting down, people being paid less.

Many of us (students) were hoping to get jobs after graduation, but many of us will have the rethink the pieces we are trying to play.
Sarah said…
yay finally stephen updates (:
thanks for the advice
guard my dreams said…
sounds like a good plan. im about to enter college in the fall and i have so many friends who have every step of their entire life planned out. major in this, graduate with this gpa, get this job, get married at this age. sound smart at first, but when they get a B or change majors, where do you go from there? thats why im keeping my options open and seeing where God takes me.
Anonymous said…
I don't know that anyone needed to read that today more than me.

Today I had to make a huge decision, that I think will negatively affect people's lives, 10 children's lives mostly, and I am personally devastated over it. I will definitely continue thinking about this post as I consider how I can possibly try to move forward from here.
I always enjoy hearing your advice and your take on life. I'm glad I got the chance to see you speak at Ward Church on Sunday night. You said some very motivating things that I think impacted a lot of people, myself included. Thank you for never fearing to share what you're so passionate about!

Not to mention it was great to finally hear some Anchor and Braille songs played live!
Josh Lancette said…
thanks for your great thoughts! it encourages me to remember to live each step of my life to the fullest, just in case things don't go quite as planned.
Aimee said…
Your words are very comforting for me right now...I am also entering college in the fall, and it's hard to know if you've planned for everything, and if where you are heading is even right. The feeling of uncertainty always creeps in, but for now I have learned to accept what comes my way and trust that God will take care of me. Still, the encouragement is always welcome! :)
dana said…
i am quite the perfectionist at heart, more than most people know. i do tend to stumble if something throws me off course from an original plan, and it's hard to get back to the beaten path; i tend to wander off and start a new one. thank you for this; it's good to see you writing again.
Renny said…
I think all of us at any given moment feel like Indiana Jones when he is about to step out on to that unseen ledge, the leap of faith. When plans fail I just remember that The Lord's plans always work out better anyway. He is the One who said, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Also, Tolkien said, "Not all who wander are lost." I know that is true.
Rachelogisys said…
Kindof interesting to read after posting a similar blog just yesterday, which was spurred by something you actually told me. Here's the link if you want to read it: rachelogisys.blogspot.com
Erin said…
Thank you for another great post, Stephen! I'm a bit of a perfectionist myself, and I admit I can get pretty upset when something big in life doesn't go the way I planned. I guess the whole idea of trying to "plan" your life can be a little ridiculous, considering Who is in charge of this whole thing!
God bless,
Patricia M. said…
(Haha, I have a friend that's a chess veteran AND an intense soccer player)

Another great post :) Your blog always brightens up my afternoon.

I myself don't have much trouble with planning, but it's being able to make adjustments or start over from square one that I need to work on. Right now, I have a really rigid idea of what I'm going to do out of high school, in college, and afterwards, but I know that one flunked SAT or one irresponsible decision would scramble a lot of my plans. I've never been very flexible, and I think I need to experience a little more of life before I can develop any mastery of the reset button.
D.N. said…
Perfectionism: It gets in the way of my plans. One mistake occurs, and I don't know what to do next. It starts a domino effect that knocks over my following few steps. But life keeps moving, and I have to catch up to it. Unsure of what to do, I just move along with it. There, my life feels like it's at a complete standstill. Next time, I'll look for that opening. If I don't find it, I'll try even harder.
iwanttoplayguitarlikejoeymilligan said…
Finally, I caught you post...a few hours late, but I caught you!

I think I've probably planned out the next ten steps of your life, but of course, the best thing to do is let God move you where you need to be. :)
kim said…
I love the way you think..

(Whenever I play chess
it ends up in a stalemate though =\)
Nylan said…
I've had so many plans fall apart. You're right, we need to be able to and change when things don't work, to hit the ground rolling and jump back up again. One of the biggest ways I've grown this past year has been in my adaptability. Paying my own way through college far from home has introduced me to a lot of setbacks.

So I find my moves tend to get smashed. Reality has a way of seeing my plans and locking them down. The thing is though, so long as I hold myself together I'll never run out of pieces. I can always regroup and start setting things up again.

And if I'm playing a game on God's behalf, maybe...just maybe...if I have enough faith the moves will all fall into place.
Eve said…
Ironically, I just unearthed a photo today of the man that taught me to play chess. I haven't seen him in years. I was thinking about this story:

Richard was a friend of my fathers. He was a brilliant architect and entrepreneur. He noticed me hanging around the chess table in his amazing "Frank Lloyd Wright" home. Half kidding he asked if I wanted to learn to play. I said yes.

Richard was a competitive genius and spared no moves on me, the nine year old little girl. He bested me time after time. He was an imposing character to most, but I was not the least bit put off by him. I kept coming back for more.

The thing that sticks out in my mind is that he was in a hurry to win...that was his only goal. I on the other hand wanted to learn..and spend time around this amazing man. I wanted to enjoy the sparing...the quiet mental jousting. He wanted a quick kill! His game plan needed to change as I caught on, he needed to readjust. He did not like that, but if he wanted to stay ahead he was forced to.

One day I asked him if we could just play...I remember saying "let's dance old man" No one ever stood up to this guy, but I recall a crooked grin spreading across his face. So he let me run him around the board a little longer than usual. I learned more that day than any other time. It was the time spent and the mistakes made that counted, not who won. Richard taught me so much more than chess. It took me until High School to ever win!

So, getting the promotion or the house or whatever may be the ultimate goal: but the planning and the earning of the "Check Mate" is most of the time spent in life anyway. Find a way to enjoy the discovery as much as the prize! Winning to me is living a peaceful, productive, loving life, a life full of meaning. Not who takes the prize...

and oh yes..I was on the chess team...NERD ALERT
Anonymous said…
I can definitely relate. I'm probably the worst when it comes to planning out my life in detail and overthinking each step. I don't strategically place the pieces on the board, I glue them down where I think they should be, and when the situation changes, I have no idea how to get the pieces where they need to go. I have to learn to be more flexible and realize that maybe I'm not as in control of my life as I want to be.
mel. said…
i have such a hard time trying to plan ahead that my friends tease me for it. i guess i'm just trying to live in the moment, but at the same time i really need a goal to strive for in order to get me through the day. it makes me feel like i have a bigger purpose than just waking up everyday and that's a good feeling.
Anonymous said…
this post could not have come at a better time. i finally made the choice to start looking 2-3 moves ahead in my life. and in doing such, i gained a promotion at work, i am becoming a homeowner at 22, and i'm getting married.

thank you stephen, for your words.
juju said…
I never makes plans. I'm just terrible at it. I'm terrible at playing chess, too.
Justin said…

Thank you Stephen.

My girlfriend just got some bad news in school and I think this really puts life in check, as you said.

It's funny how I decided to "randomly" check out your blog cause I remembered that you have one...

He works in very mysterious and wonderful ways.

Have a good day. =]
aletheia said…
I find it a little ironic that, unlike most of the people here, I am terrible at chess, but great at planning my life.

I've never come close to winning a chess game.

But I have yet to honestly fail.

Maybe it'd give me some perspective. But wishing for suffering seems so backwards. Thank you all for your thoughts.
cristobal said…
Stephen please get out of my head! Your blog posts seem to come when i need them the most, and recently deal with what i need to hear at the moment. Thank you.
Pam said…
It's funny because I gave this same advice to some of my friends a while ago. But a lot of times I can't even take my own advice. It's so difficult to see the bright side when my entire "world" is falling apart. And you get sick of people saying "it's gonna be alright, everything will work out". I've come to realize that it's ok to feel this way, but not for too long. I always go back to Jeremiah 29:11. In the end, though I feel like crap because my plans didn't work out, I take comfort to the fact that God has better plans for me than I have for myself. Even though at the time, it doesn't make sense. Looking back it's so amazing to see how God has worked in my life. Things that made no sense, make perfect sense now. At the end of the day, it all comes down to faith. God knows what's best for me, and it's up to me to trust Him completely.
Anonymous said…
Thats stephen. This is exactally what I needed. Its funny how Papa works like that.
Erin said…
stephen, nice play on words with the title. ha.

I like having my life planned out. I always thought that was a fault of mine though. Ill ponder this blog for awhile...
Rover Fox said…
Every notice that the best players have also played the most games, its no coincidence in life either. The trick is learning from their mistakes, and benefiting from their sucesses so you can become a better player than they were. So the servant becomes the master.
Ashley said…
i never was good at chess either, but that's probably because i don't plan ahead. in real life or the game. i don't mind that so much in life cause it lets me 'roll with the punches' and i like having my options open, but as far as the game goes, it ticks me off when i realize my mistakes 3-4 moves too late. hahah.
goodnightpunk said…
Great post. I heard this quote a while back and it always stuck with me : "Want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans." As more of the planner type, that quote has helped to realize that when things don't go 'my' way, there might just be something greater arround the bend.

Oh and I'm a chess nerd. Except there was no chess team/club at my school.
Anonymous said…
i've always thought chess has an air of greatness to it, and i think that is why i have always wanted to know how to play it. Unfortunately i don't.
But about planning life a few steps ahead, i dont know if i agree with that. but then again, my life being a mess sometimes might have something to do with that. maybe if i did plan ahead, thought out what really needed to be done i'd enjoy things more and would have some order in my life.
definetely something to think about and actually try to accomplish (in my case).
stoph said…
Hey, thanks for the post.

I think sometimes I end up planning ahead a little to much and I loose grip on the present. Sometimes I just need to wake up and enjoy the present instead of always plotting out the future.

To keep the chess metaphor going, its like when your so focused on carrying out your perfect strategy that you get totally blindsided by a crippling attack from the other player.

Sometimes we just need to live for the moment.
"Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while then vanishes."

"At this point in my life, I thought the verse meant that there was little value in planning, because we're just a vapor here, and tomorrow we're going to blow away. Then I read the rest of the section. 'Instead you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.'"

"When you are planning, it is important to be continually committing the whole planning process to prayer, and asking, "Father in Heaven, is this plan Your will for us at this time?"

-Bobb Biehl
Anonymous said…
My problem is that I fail to make plans. I'm the only person that I know who doesn't know what college they want to go to and doesn't have a clue what they want to do with their life. People tell me it's okay to not know those things yet, but not having any possible ideas makes me feel like I'm being left out of life.
Just earlier today(while feeling a bit sad) I was thinking about how I need to find something that I'm passionate about, that I can make goals with so I can have something to work toward and look forward to. But I suppose that my problem has a lot to do with being a teenager and still figuring out who I am, and not fully understanding life.

Maybe I should start playing chess. I've never played before.
More Than Alive said…
24 hours ago, when I first read your post, I sat on my bed and took some time to really contemplate what your post suggested... the more I thought, however, the more the negative reality of my life hit me. So many of my plans in life have been thwarted for one reason or another. I have worked hard toward accomplishing different goals, but it seems that somehow life just happens and changes those plans more frequently than I'd like... :-/

BUT you're right! Life is not perfect - so many of our plans in life will fall through, but that happens to SO many people who have turned out triumphant. Henry Ford, for example, failed before he became a success... Mr. Hershey, Abraham Lincoln, etc etc etc It takes learning from a little bit of failure to mold greatness.

Recently, I've been working on a HUGE project. I've definately been thinking 4-5 steps ahead on this one - I worry at times that all of this work may end up as one of those "failed attempts"...but, if I get knocked down I will pick myself back up and keep trying.

Thanks for your post Stephen - and thanks for inspiring a good one, Ruth :-)
Anonymous said…
This post just inspired my most recent post. I know you're a very busy man, but I'd love for you to read it.

Bruce Merlin said…
If there is ever a game where the plan of action changes more that game would have to be the hardest game ever.
Ted said…
good point, we all make plans then get so frustrated and bummed out when they don't follow through. but it's really all God's plan. if our plan for the future doesn't coincide with His then we're probably not going to get there. we get lost in our human indpendence we don't look at why things happen the way they do. we have to look for that opening. we have to listen to God. we have to have faith.
~Sarah said…
That's a very true post. I don't know much about chess, but I know it takes a lot of thought. I really would like to learn to play it some day, because in some way, I know God could teach me a lot through playing it when it comes to my own life
*smiles to herself* Well, this post made my day! A while ago my friends and I were sitting around talking about who we were as people and how others viewed us and one told me, "Chris, you're the punk in the group!" I laughed about that one and asked why. She said it was because I did whatever wasn't popular....and didn't give a crap about what anyone thought. Typical me. I never realized I did that, but apparently that's my nature. Also, the whole issue about planning...Wow! So relevant! God's plan's the best one...and we just don't have that blueprint at our disposal. We're here for His purposes...all we can do is trust. God bless! ~Chris
christopher. said…
Rigidity can often be the catastrophe that will sink almost any ship. In life, we need to be flexible--much like in chess--to accomplish many of the challenges that we face both internally and externally. Maybe one day when we can see into the future and we are eating our pill form breakfast while we ride our jetpacks to work, things will be a little different. For now, however, I think that structure, though necessary at times, can occasionally be my worst enemy if too much faith is put into one concept of what is to be.
Mary said…
I got denied to the college of my dreams about a month ago. I wanted to go to Ohio State since I was a child. What's disappointing is that I am a good student, but my gpa was lacking its true worth because my freshman year in high school... I just didn't care, and my grades reflected it.

I felt lost. I thought that everything I had planned about my future had gone wrong. Then I realized that I just have to take a different route; go to a different college. They might be something better for me there.

The example seems kind of trivial, but it was a huge deal to me. I honestly believed that if I wanted it bad enough, I could get it. I thought since I knew I deserved it, I would get it. Yet it didn't happen. Of course, it did for a reason and only time will tell why.
Story of a Girl said…
you're right... we do need to create new hopes. Love this. Because I'm having to make new goals and rethink a lot of things in my life right now. Love how you put it, "reshape our vision for the future around what passions we are excited about currently" yes, we reshape for new and exciting and unexpected things.
Andrea said…
this is a good one stephen. for the first time, I have no idea what to do with my life or even what I care about.
time to go rearrange my room while re thinking my passions and plans.
Lulu said…
Exactly, precisely what I needed. Trust is hard.
I can't play chess worth squat.
elmercanoy said…
thanks for your words of wisdom! you're such an inspiration! : )
Anonymous said…
This is great advice! I'm at a point where I need to rethink my life too. . .the past two or three years of it, at least. *sigh* I think I'll pull through. . .it's just hard to re-write a history you had so planned out before. I feel a bit lost, but I like your perspective. . .it's an opportunity for me to start over again, to rethink how I want to live.

Thanks for sharing this.
Caleb said…
hmm... if i ever meet you, i hope theres a chess board around... i've always wondered what i would do if i met one of my hero's and now i know. i will dual them in chess.
thanks for answering that question =)
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chess isn't just about strategy. It's about bluffing as well. Sometimes if you let your opponent believe they're winning by "playing dead" you can hit them where it hurts the hardest.

Learning to play chess and mastering it takes people YEARS. But once you know how to do it and once you figure it out you can apply what you learned to various situations in real life, especially socially. I'm not saying that it makes you manipulative, but you can handle conversations and business and social interactions with people on a more skilled level because you've built logic in time doing something as small as playing chess. The same thing can be said about a lot of things once you master them in various situations, but logic and skill and tactfulness are all relevant to chess.

(I posted a comment before this that was the same general idea, I just didn't follow up to correct my terrible typos which is one of my peeves.)

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