When Things Are Out of (Your) Control

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Humility is not the opposite of pride. It’s the opposite of anxiety.

You won’t find that definition in Webster’s, but that’s how God’s been speaking to me about it recently.

As a family, we’re planning a big move that we believe God has called us to. But along with that decision comes cartloads of uncertainties. I’ve been wrestling with a lot of questions about the future, giving in to anxiety and, finding refuge in copious quantities of chocolate and coffee.

When leafing through the Word for encouragement, God hit me with 1 Peter 5:6-7, a familiar verse for many of us.

Humble yourself under the Lord’s mighty hand and He will lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.

Humble yourself. I always thought that meant being self-effacing, maybe meek.

But in these verses humility is connected to anxiety.

To cast my anxieties on God, I first need to humble myself.

Lightbulb moment.

Humility includes recognizing that I’m not in control of my circumstances. Humility says ‘I can’t on my own strength. But You can.’

I need to step out and let God be God.

That’s the only way I can kick anxiety in its rear.

But, the thing is, it can be downright scary to put all my eggs in one basket and then hand that basket over to God.

Most of us like being in control. We lap up that false sense of security like a doggy at his water dish on a hot day. I know I do.

I rewrite my grocery list three times so it’s organized by aisle. I get an endorphin rush from checking off my to-do list. I’ve in essence created my own little world where I’m a self-appointed CEO.

So when tough circumstances come my way I go into default mode. I tell the Maker of the Universe that He can hang out in the background while I figure this thing out on my own.

My little, myopic game plan make work for a while. It may produce short-term, smoke-screen results. What it does produce, for sure, is soul-crushing stress. In my home that means mama forgets to smile, doesn’t find her kids’ antics the least bit cute and cooks dinner that tastes like leather boots. Oh, and there’s lots of yelling.

So, what have I been learning to do instead?

Frisk Those Thoughts

I’m borrowing this line from my Bible Study leader. When those anxious thoughts start attacking your mind, go into airport security mode. Frisk those thoughts like you’re getting rid of all those liquids and gels in your carry on. Check your thoughts against Philippians 4:8 – are they true, right, noble, excellent, praiseworthy, lovely or admirable. None of the above? It needs to go in the trash before you can board the anxiety-free airplane.

Pray

Duh. This one’s obvious, right?

Not so much when you’re too consumed with your problems to get down on your knees.

But that position of humility is the most exalted place. God may not transform your situation. He may ask you to wait. He may even say no.

But what He does transform is your perspective and your heart.

When you pray you’re handing things over to an all-powerful God who is also your Abba Father, a God whose plans cannot be thwarted, who gives you peace beyond what you can grasp.

Stay in Community

Surround yourself with people who point you in the right direction.

That would be upward.

It’s amazing what a good chat with my sister can do. Our phone counseling sessions are less than formal – held during baseball practice, while shopping at Walmart and burning cooking dinner. But hearing His promises and remembering how He has lead me in the past are just what I need.

Plus I’m a woman and I need to talk to get things off my chest.

Remember You Only See the Knots

While God is weaving a beautiful tapestry of our lives, we in Corrie Ten Boom’s words only see the underside. And even with my limited sewing skills I know the underside is a mess.

But God sees the final canvas, the big picture, connections that we can’t even begin to fathom. So when the timeline is not what we planned, when things we banked on fall through, when we don’t see how things could possibly work out, we remember that God is the master weaver who works all things for the good of those who love him.

As a family, we still have a LOT of unknowns around the corner. But God’s in the business of pulling people out of deep waters, not out of hammocks. So we’re looking at our uncertainties as opportunities to trust, to lean, to abandon ourselves to Him.

 

 

 

16 comments

  1. Tamara Philip says:

    Exactly what Rajiv Uncle said – practical n powerful! Amazing Susie. I think I should re-read this every now and then. Some great reminders there.

  2. Marcia Rigamonti says:

    Great blog Susan. At our ladies retreat this year, I spoke on Ps. 94:14 “In the multitude of my thoughts within me, thy comforts delight my soul.” I wish I could have read this blog BEFORE the retreat as you say so much more succinctly what I wanted to share concerning our thought life and how to “conform it to His way of thinking.” Especially liked the “frisking your anxious thoughts” idea!!!

  3. Shweta says:

    So deep & insightful, & beautifully written as always, Susan. I saw this when I needed it most, like a “Godsend”. Love.

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