Let It Go!
I once read that you have to “Let go of what you think your life should look like” so you can enjoy the life you’re living and you know there’s so much truth in that but for me that statement also contains some fear. By now you know that I enjoy having a plan (and maybe control) over every bit of my life which is a ridiculous attitude in the real world but here we are… Truthfully, I feel like my trust in the Lord’s plan and more importantly, His timing, is tested everyday simply because life doesn’t always look like I expected.
Recently, while preparing to teach a lesson for my bible study a question was posed in the material of “Do you feel you are living in God’s will/plan for your life?” but here’s what the Lord prompted me to consider… Am I disappointed that this is God’s plan for my life? If I’m honest, yes, sometimes I am disappointed. Not because I think life outside of God’s will is better or more fulfilling in some way but because I’m human and there are things I want and thought I needed and it’s difficult to let go of those ideas. Remember, I’m a planner. I have pictures in my head of how my life should be and holy crow this is not where I thought the road would lead me. Not to this job or this house or these friends and yet I am so incredibly thankful for these things. I’m also INCREDIBLY thankful for the things I haven’t gotten that I thought I wanted or needed.
For example, that job in a different city that I hoped would provide new adventures and a more comfortable lifestyle but, in reality, would have uprooted my life and provided a nice paycheck but no personal fulfillment. That man that I prayed would be “the one” because I was tired of waiting, who in the end was very nice but VERY boring and who would have provided a life without laughter and for me without joy. The friendships that I prayed would never end because, “Where would I find friends like these?” when in reality those friendships had become toxic and didn’t allow for growth.
See here’s the thing...looking back on these moments (and a million more like them) I can see God’s hand leading me. None of these moments were surprises to Him. He wasn’t shocked when the job fell through or when the date went haywire or when the friendship turned cruel. He wasn’t surprised because He knows my life down to the hairs on my head. Better than that He doesn’t just know what will happen in my life He has a purpose and a plan. Jeremiah tells us this in the often quoted, “I know the PLANS I have for you…” (29:11) and it’s true. Can we walk outside this plan? Definitely, but luckily he isn’t surprised by our screw ups either. Who told Peter he would deny Christ? CHRIST!!! There is not a moment you will come to that God is not already in...think about that!
Also, if the Creator of the universe has a plan for your life and mine don’t you think it is an EXTREMELY well thought out plan? He didn’t just throw an idea on paper and hoped it worked. This is the creator that designed the intricate details of the snowflake and taught the bumblebee to fly surely if he cared so much for the tiny details he cares about you too!
So, if I know this is true and believe that the Lord wants the best for me as my loving Father, what’s a girl to do? That is the exact question I’ve been asking God and his answer has been multifaceted and wrapped in prayer. So, here is my approach...
Step one...Get rid of the things that are distractions. We all know that emotions can be misleading and about a decade ago I got in the habit of trying to ask God to take away the desires I had that were not part of His plan or that created stumbling blocks for my progress. It’s amazing how freeing that can be to no longer feel tied to something or someone that isn’t part of your future story. However, recently, I have found that there are a few areas of my life that I quite honestly DO NOT want to ask God to get rid of because I’m afraid he will. That means I am hanging on to the desires of my heart in spite of the potential harm they are doing me which is a sin.
The Lord is not a God of confusion and he tells us to ask for wisdom and it will be freely given but sometimes I honestly just don’t want to give up my dream. I want to play in make believe land for a little longer before I accept that God’s plan holds something else (and something better). Also, I find it reassuring that there are moments when I ask the Lord to take away a desire if it isn’t from him and I find that desire is still present. The missionary Amy Carmichael once said, “It is a safe thing to trust Him to fulfill the desires He creates” and I think that is very true but we sometimes lose hope or patience because it doesn’t come when or how we expect.
Step two... The Lord has put on my heart to begin praying not just for said desires and not just for patience but rather asking for joy in the waiting. My aunt once said that we spend our lives waiting for the next big moment that we often miss life. You think your life will begin when you turn sixteen and can drive but then you’re sure life will begin when you enter college and then when you get married or have kids or retire or whatever. You spend your whole life wishing for the next big moment in your life to begin only to find that your life began decades ago and you missed it.
Once again, the Lord is an intentional and on time God so if He has you waiting or growing in a situation you can bet your behind that there’s a reason you’re currently there. The Lord has used Esther 4:14 as a constant reminder that where I currently am is intentional. Don’t miss the blessing of the present moment because you are waiting for something else.
Step three...Count your blessings! I love the old Irving Berlin song “Count Your Blessings” especially the line that says, “When my bankroll is getting small I think of when I had none at all and I fall asleep counting my blessings…” What a great outlook to have on life! So often we forget how blessed we are because we are so focused on what we don’t have or we forget how hard we prayed for something once that prayer is answered. Sometimes in the midst of a season of waiting looking back on answered prayers can do wonders. It not only reminds you of God’s faithfulness but you can’t help but be grateful for what you have currently.
Step four… Remember your path aka hindsight is 20/20. Similarly, to step three, looking back on your life path is a great way to remember God’s work in your life. Hindsight really is eye opening! Doors closed that you thought were huge failures or disappointments that turned into the biggest blessings or better yet those tiny, trivial moments that actually changed your life.
For example, when my dream boy asked me out I was too dense to realize it so I basically gave him the snub. Once I realized what I had done I beat myself up over the missed opportunity. However, years later I know that if I had dated this boy I would not have become the independent woman I am today. It was a blessing that I didn’t understand for nearly a decade. Or the time a friend invited me to dinner with a friend of hers and I ended up meeting one of my best friends. Little did I know that night that the Lord was going to bless me with a sister and friend right in the middle of Newk’s!
Who knows that I won’t be looking back on this very moment laughing about how this was the first step to a new adventure? Just because we can’t see every step doesn’t mean they aren’t there and just because it doesn’t make sense now doesn’t mean it isn’t part of the big picture of your life. Ask the Lord to guide your steps, still your heart and show you the joy of every moment even when you’re scared!