Dayne says he wants me to blog more. So this one’s for Dayne!
(For the record, I’d like to blog more, too.)
A couple of months ago, I was convicted through a number of channels (my Beth Moore Breaking Free study, our book study on The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel, and a particular sermon Phil gave at church) that I depend too much on myself and too little on God. I always grabbed life by the horns, and I had established a foundational mindset that I was in charge, that I knew better than God, and that no one was going to take care of me or anything else, so I’d better get cracking. This illness has shown up in many wonderful places, like the way that I have habitually ruined relationships, sabotaged my mental and physical health, over-scheduled myself to burn-outs, and hid (or, at worst, ran) from God.
Coming to this realization was a huge turning point for me, but recently I’ve discovered that, even with my shifted perspective & general surrender to God, I still have some major death-grips on key aspects of my life. I can recognize them by the knowledge that I would be majorly ticked if God messed with any of these areas (listed in order of tightness of grip):
1) my relationship & its future. To be honest, I would hate more than anything to see another relationship fail. I want nothing in this world more than to never lose Dayne. For all the challenges that a committed relationship brings, I have learned and grown SO much and been encouraged more than I could ever imagine. He is an incredible human being and an even more incredible boyfriend.
2) my employment & pay level. I’ve worked hard over the past two years in my nanny job, and I finally reached a level of pay that I am more or less satisfied with. I don’t want to be let go from this job unexpectedly, and I don’t want to be in a situation where I’m making less (or no) money.
3) my home life. I like being settled in a nice apartment with the comfort of some personal space, a nice kitchen, a warm bed, etc. I don’t want any unexpected moves or big changes.
4) my friendships. I (unfortunately) work very hard at maintaining these and I think sometimes they are a source of pride, like “I have such incredible friends!” I really do have incredible friends, but I have to remember that I’m not the One who put them in my life, and it is only by God’s grace that I can do anything (including spending time with and growing my relationships with these incredible friends).
Although I’d love to be in a place where I can just let these things go and say, “Sure, God, whatever You want!”, I just am not there. I’m disappointed. I wanted to hand over the keys to my life to God and be done with it — growing in my new freedom to relax and enjoy closeness with Dad. To follow His direction and His leading only.
Turns out it is not quite that easy! I’ve been reading Walking with God by John Eldredge with my book study, and in the past two weeks’ readings, John has repeatedly talked about asking God about even the smallest decisions BEFORE we make them. And actually expecting Him to speak. It’s not a novel concept, but he presents it in a way that seems novel and is totally practical. So I’ve started to ask God about the little things. Should I start going to counseling again? Should I join the YMCA? Should I go to the informational Kenya meeting? There’s no way I’m ready to ask bigger questions, like, “Should I marry Dayne?” or “When should I find a new job?”, because I haven’t even practiced listening for God in smaller situations.
“This is step one in learning to listen to the voice of God: ask simple questions. You cannot start with huge and desperate questions, such as, ‘Should I marry Ted?’ or ‘Do you want me to sell the family business tomorrow?’ or ‘Do I have lung cancer?’ (Paranoia rarely enables me to hear God’s voice.) That’s like learning to play the piano by starting with Mozart, learning to ski by doing double black diamonds. There is way too much emotion involved, too much swirling around in our heads. I find that to hear the voice of God, we must be in a posture of quiet surrender. Starting with the small questions helps us learn to do that.” – John Eldredge, Walking with God, p. 30
So surrender starts small. And builds up. And eventually I won’t feel any more need to DIY. Because I’ll know that the One in Charge has my back, and He will show me consistently that He has what’s best for me. My intimacy with Him will grow, and my fingers will gradually loosen from those bigger areas of my life.
“…The sheep listen to [the shepherd’s] voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice… I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” – John 10:3-4, 10-11