Hey, friends! It has been a hot minute since we last spoke, so...hi, hello, how are you? The past few weeks have been a little rocky, but I felt that I needed to sit down and hash out what has been on my mind as of late. So here we go.
About 2 weeks ago, I was happily prancing along my life when I felt a sharp pain against my molar. I held a mirror to my open mouth, and after a few minutes of playing dentist, realized that my wisdom teeth needed to be extracted. I called my dentist (a real one), asked her to get me in touch with an oral surgeon. Just like that, I had set a date to get rid of those pesky molars. In theory, this was great; I was going to have my wisdom teeth taken out on a Saturday, and I'd be up and at 'em again on Sunday– or so I thought.
Today is Wednesday, and I've probably been in bed since Sunday. At first, I was just dealing with the surgery recovery, but then I caught a cold. So, now I have four holes in my mouth, a sore throat, and a runny nose. You could say things didn't really go as planned. Normally, I'd be thankful for the 4-day break, but quite frankly, I have stuff– a lot of stuff– to do. I hate sounding like a negative Nancy, and I know I'm being extremely melodramatic, but I am going somewhere with this...
There's something humbling about not having any control over the outcome of a situation. I'm the type of person that likes clear outlines, planning, and organization. I hate ambiguity. Hate is probably an understatement. So, for the past four days, while I haven't been able to do much, I've been thinking about the fact that we can't control everything in life. You apply for a position, and get rejected. You get excited about something, and it falls through. You think your recovery period will take one day, but it takes five– you get the point. We have expectations, and sometimes reality simply doesn't measure up. While I'd love to say that life is always fine and dandy, we've all experienced disappointment at one point or another to know that's not true.
When I look back on all of the times in life where I've tried to take control of a situation that was clearly out of my hands, I can confidently say that I've messed things up. And that's just what happens when we meddle in situations that our human hands were never meant to touch. Instead of bringing our deepest desires to the feet of Jesus– and leaving them there– we tend to pick them back up, poke, and prod them, hoping for a quicker response. When we make our expectations law, and then project those expectations onto God, we can only then blame ourselves for the disappointment that ensues.
But it's in those moments of complete disappointment and lack of control when you can hear a still, small voice saying, "Be still, and know that I am God."
The key to freeing yourself of the disappointment and stress associated with control, is being still. There are so many verses in the Bible that make reference to stillness, and I don't think the use of the word is by coincidence. Here are a few verses for your reference:
"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."
"Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes!"
1 Samuel 12:16
"Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him..."
"He says, "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.""
Let me clarify that in being still, I definitely do not mean going about your life passively. What I mean is to let Christ take over. Pursue your deepest aspirations, but always be prepared to surrender your will to God's. Let His will become yours. If you have a crucial essay to write, then write the best dang essay anyone has ever seen. If you've got an important project at work, then care for every detail of that project. Don't give half your effort and expect two halves of a return on investment. That's not how it works. Like in the parable of the talents, Christ wants us to use our gifts to their fullest extent. However, sometimes what we think will bring us deep satisfaction isn't good for us. If things don't go your way, know that God's way is always better. Maybe He's diverting you away from something that could've had an awful impact on you, or perhaps He's saving you for something incredible in the future. His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts, greater than our thoughts. Give your best effort, and regardless of the outcome, know that He has your best interest in mind (and at heart).
Another important way of being still, but not passive, is through prayer. Prayer is when you can pour your heart out to God. Just let it all out, like you're venting to your best friend. It really doesn't matter how you do it; you can keep a prayer journal, pray through praise, pray via an organized prayer book (e.g. the Agpeya), or just pray a few words from the heart. When it comes to being still, it's quite hard to leave everything in the hands of Someone you don't speak to regularly. If a sense of trust hasn't been established, logically speaking, surrendering everything to God just sounds outrageous. Let's fix that (myself included) by praying more often. There are two well-known verses from Philippians 4 that I think tie in perfectly with the idea of being still:
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
Talk to God about your dreams, desires, goals, and expectations. The peace and satisfaction that follow as a result of building a relationship with Him are so much sweeter than the disappointment and anxiety that come from trying to do everything on our own. I know it may sound scary to leave all the details of our lives to Someone else, especially considering the fact that you don't know where He'll lead you. But a huge part of being still is trusting God even in the ambiguity of life. Christ calls us to deny ourselves daily and take up our crosses and follow Him (Luke 9:23), and that means especially when times get tough. Plus, Christ isn't just anybody; He was there before the beginning. He is the Word that spoke the universe into existence. And He knew every single one us before He formed us in the womb. Yes, we all have dreams, desires, expectations, and hopes; but fretting over them, and getting disappointed in ourselves when we face setbacks (like wisdom teeth extractions and colds) doesn't do us much good. If God allows you to go through a particular season in order for you to practice being still, then let it be. When we come to the understanding that the Creator of the universe is in control, those problems that once seemed ginormous, look a lot smaller.
At first being still might feel like you're walking around in the dark, but He's always there. He's in the background, calling all the shots, and orchestrating all of the little events that will make you look back on your life and say, "Ahhhh, I see what You did there."
He knows what He's doing, you need only to be still.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read my post! I won't be posting anything on here until 2018, so Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! See you soon!