During the past week since I wrote my last blog post about Ash Wednesday, I have probably composed nine other posts to try to open the vent valve on my brain. Writing is my therapy, but my attempts to center my thoughts by releasing them through the keyboard have been more of a challenge than usual.
The past year has been a rollercoaster as we have worked through a hard decision that is coming up this weekend. During the past month, I have been dealing with a lot of anxiety. I’ve had had moments of excitement and at the same time I’ve felt like I’m in mourning. I’ve made myself physically ill from stress. I’ve had lots of conversations with people. And I’ve prayed like never before.
At our Ash Wednesday service last week, I asked God what I should be doing as we kicked off this Lenten season. Where should I focus my attention? Should I give something up? Should I do something new? What? Tell me!
That was the answer. Stop allowing all of the thoughts that have been swirling in your head. Take ahold of the worry. Don’t try to figure out what you can do. Just. Trust. Me.
It would be nice to be able to see in the future and know exactly what decisions to make. Sadly, I don’t have a crystal ball. But I do have something almost as good. I have the past. I can see how God has led us in the past, which gives me hope and faith to trust Him in the future.
As I’ve tried to sort through some of what I’ve learned through past experiences, here are a few things that keep coming to mind.
People often fail.
Wait. What? That’s not helpful! I know… it sounds bad. But let me try to explain why this is actually encouraging to me.
Often in life, I want to work through every scenario and try to determine if I can trust another human in some way. It might be a relationship or a business deal or something as big as marriage. What I’ve learned is that no one is perfect. No matter how hard I try to imagine everything that could go wrong and figure out how I might avoid it, the fact is, people will fail.
I have a tendency to set high standards for the people in my life. I want them to live up to my expectations. This makes the propensity for failure even greater. The reality is that I will fail, as well. As I recognize my own mistakes throughout life, it has allowed me to extend more grace toward those I’m working with or living with or in relationship with.
Admitting in advance that I might be disappointed helps me not to place such high expectations on other people. It also forces me to rely on the one thing that never fails. That is the presence of God in my life. No matter what happens, I know without a doubt that He will walk through it with me.
Life isn’t a contest.
I will admit I can be a wee bit competitive in life. Sometimes I make decisions based on this attitude that I want to come out ahead. The truth is, everyone can win at the same time.
Here’s an example that has nothing to do with anything, but it seems like a good example. I was listening to an interview today with Trey Kennedy, who is a Christian comedian who is famous because of his Instagram stories. He looks and sounds just like John Crist, another Christian comedian who is famous because of his Instagram stories. If I was either of these guys, I would probably want to do whatever I could to differentiate myself. I might even be tempted to withhold my admiration from the other person out of a competitive spirit.
Instead, the two of them have become good friends. They have even started doing videos together. I love that! They have realized that combining their super powers actually makes them stronger.
This has been a healthy revelation for me in a lot of areas of my life. If I’m on a similar path with someone else, and we are both working toward the same goal, we can ALL win! There’s plenty of room in the world. I don’t need to see life as a competition.
Don’t make decisions based on fear.
It’s super smart to research something, find out as much info as you can, ask questions, pray and try to make the best decision possible. I have 100 percent respect for anyone who does that.
If we are going sky diving, for example, I want to have the best equipment I can find and get trained by someone who knows what she’s doing. When it comes down to that final moment, though, I still have to jump.
The way I’m wired, I pretty much always feel like there’s just a little more info I would like to gather before I decide. Maybe there’s one more question I can ask that will make it all OK. I would sit on the edge of that cliff forever, just because I’m so afraid.
Sometimes, it’s hard to find the balance between being sure you took the time to do your research and knowing when it’s just time to leap. My human nature is to be overly cautious in those situations. But I’m growing in my ability to trust God and let go. In the end, I don’t ever want fear to dictate my decisions.
I’m not going to lie. This past week has been hard. I’ve found myself frozen at times because I feel like I can’t quite move forward, but I also can’t go back. I can’t do anything but wait.
I’ve been completely reassured though by the fact that I can trust God. He knows His plan even when I don’t, and I can trust Him to make it happen.
And that’s really the best place to be.