In the distance I hear the gentle hum of a snow blower, and the scraping of a shovel. As I sit by the window, I can see snow being flung into the air as neighbors do their best to battle our first real snowstorm in decades. I know we too will soon bundle up and head outside to make paths to our cars, and along the sidewalk (a task we will appreciate having completed in the days to come), but for now, for just an hour or two more, I lean back on the couch and just savor the gentle fall of the snowflakes and the white blanket that now covers everything I see.
While being able to stay inside and not feel anxious that others are getting to work and making progress may not seem like a big deal, but for me, not feeling the weight of anxiety as this task is left undone is a reason to celebrate. You see, the Lord has been graciously opening up my eyes to the fact that I was beginning to think that I was in control. It seems laughable to even type it out and see those words on my computer screen, but my actions and high stress level had become living proof that I was believing this lie.
Here’s some insight into how I came to this realization. Starting first thing in the mornings, I would have a mental to-do-list in my mind. My expectations for what I could accomplish in a certain amount of time was laughable, but because I was believing that I was in control, I attempted the impossible morning after morning (and this was all counting on everything going perfectly, and the inevitable hiccups of life not popping up).
And do you know what happened nearly every day? I failed…and the result of me spending those morning hours striving to achieve the impossible always produced anxiety. There I was…either running late because I had unrealistic expectations, or I was on time, but feeling like a failure because of the numerous tasks that didn’t get done. And that’s not even mentioning the pressure I put on my family to ensure that the control I craved became a reality.
After having a few mild panic attacks, I knew that the Lord was trying to get my attention. I felt Him calling me to Himself, and gently reminding me who HE is, and Whose I was. I started memorizing Scriptures that reminded me that peace comes from Him alone, not from my accomplishments, and the importance of loving others well, and taking my eyes off of myself. Scriptures like John 14:27,
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
And 1 John 3:16-18,
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth.”
As these verses took root in my mind, they also began to take root in my heart. Peace that the world gives costs too much and is always fleeting. I may desire for God’s love to abide in me, but if my focus continued to be just on myself and my unattainable to-do-lists, I was sure to close my heart against those in need. Only the Lord is in control, and the sooner I accepted that and surrendered my desire for control, the sooner He could continue molding and making me into what He sees as best.
So here I sit…knowing there are a hundred things I could be doing, but choosing to do the next best thing, and trusting Him to continue guiding the rest. Psalm 32:8 says,
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go, I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”
There will always be tasks on our mental lists, but my prayer is that we seek the Lord and hand over those lists, trusting Him to show us what’s next. We weren’t ever meant to do it all, and we’ll inevitably buckle and collapse under that impossible weight. He knows what is best and most important. He will instruct and counsel us. And do you know what’s incredible? Psalm 32:8 isn’t just true for the huge life decisions we are faced with, but also the everyday ones. He longs for us to ask Him for wisdom when it comes to our work tasks, our relationships, our parenting, caring for our homes, and loving others.
The snow will still be here in an hour or two, but for now I can take a deep breath and rest in the now. Tomorrow morning that mental list will still come to mind, but with the power of the Holy Spirit, I can present it to the Lord, and ask Him to guide those morning hours and leave any undone tasks in His hands. He sees the big picture and wants us to trust Him. Just like the snowflakes that are dancing and spinning outside my window, I want to trust in our Creator, and allow Him to guide and direct me on the path He created. I want to surrender control and enjoy the adventure.