Whew, Friday. Let the weekend begin! Letting go! The title of this post relates to tossing back copious amounts of beer and letting go of all inhibitions!!!
That wouldn’t be very good for my fitness goals or my productivity on Monday morning. Also, it isn’t what has been working on my mind and heart lately. This month, this week, right now, I’m struggling with something I’ve always struggled with: letting go. I like control; I like to imagine that I have it all figured out, and I like to plan/scheme/organize my life. But every day something I never expected happens and my plan changes. And I get upset because now I have to re-plan or re-schedule and re-think my approach. This happens all the time to me, including this week and today. Do you have similar experiences with your life plans? Does it add stress to your day? What’s the deal?
It turns out, I can’t control everything. In fact, I do a pretty poor job of controlling anything. And I just stress myself out worrying about how to plan for my future. Or even just planning for what I’m doing after work!
Today, I’ve felt God working on me with this. And this isn’t a new development: He has been talking to me my whole life about letting go of all of these worries and stresses and leaving them up to Him. The thing is, I push Him off and ignore Him because I’m too busy planning my own path. Dumb, right? If I was going to ascend Mt. Everest and a local Sherpa with years of experience came to me with a proven climbing plan and offered to carry all of my equipment, I should shout “HELL YES” shouldn’t I? But instead I shoo him away because I’m Googling “beginner hiking techniques”. Smart.
The point is: I need to let go of this stuff. It weighs on me and it brings me down if I think about it too much. God is in control, and that is a truly reassuring thought if you let it sink in. No matter how hard you plan, or how much you try, God created all of this and it will end up how He wants it to. I need to do a better job of laying my problems, worries, and goals at His feet and saying “Take them. Do with them and with me what You will.” I’m sure it would free up my mind and my soul if I did this on a daily basis.
This is freeing, but it is also a scary thought if you’re like me. I don’t like the idea of letting go. But I am confident that anything I could have planned for my life is laughable when compared to what God has in store for me. He keeps telling me this, and I’m finally going to do something about it. I’m going to completely lean on Him and trust in Him to lead me where it is best for me. Scary…sure, but I found some proof that it may put my mind at ease:
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.” (Matthew 6:25-29, NLT)
All of my worries can’t add a single moment to my life. So why waste my time worrying? God has me covered, and His plan is awesome.
Now, I’m not going to stop planning everything. I’m not going to throw on sweats, lay in a pile of Fritos, and stop going to work because “God will provide”. That’s irresponsible. But I will stop acting like my plan is the end-all-be-all of my day. I am going to admit when I don’t have the answers and I’m going to ask God to guide me. I am going to let go of my vice grip on my life’s goals and simply trust in His will. (I wrote about trust a bit right here.) I hope this leads to a more stress-free, worry-free daily life. And a happier end goal than I could ever imagine.
Are there certain things in your life that you are holding onto? Are there areas where you push God away? For me, it’s planning for my future. But it could be anything, and I’m curious to know what it is for you.
Rushing to Wait
Isn’t it the best feeling when you get a great deal? When your plan falls perfectly into place and you get that dumb grin on your face? I love that. But what about when the opposite happens?
I drive an ’05 Jeep Wrangler, and I’m the third owner. I love taking the top down in the summer and it’s great for drive-in movie theaters. However, Wranglers don’t have all the modern electronics of most cars on the road today. With all of their removable tops, doors, and windshields, it wouldn’t make sense to put a bunch of expensive electronics on the inside. I realized this when I bought it, but as it gets colder here in Iowa, I want to know what the outside temperature is. I also would like to know which direction I’m going as I drive, because I’ve always been a little directionally challenged. Just last month, I started a journey to Iowa City (2 hours directly east of my house) by driving north on Interstate 35 for 20 miles before realizing my mistake. Brilliant. And my buddy riding shotgun was none too thrilled about getting to Iowa City 45 minutes later than expected.
This past Monday, I found the solution to both of these problems at the only place that could have such a magical cure: Wal-Mart. I located a “3-in-1”, battery-operated, self-mounting device that simultaneously told you the direction you were driving, the temperature outside your car, and the time. All I had to do was activate the sticky tape on the bottom and stick it on my dash. Incredible, right? After the initial shock of this amazing find wore off, I composed myself long enough to purchase it for $3.89.
The perfect deal! I’d found it in my first attempt! This solved all my problems, and for less than $5. Y-E-S.
It was only 3 minutes after this moment of ecstasy that I learned the sad truth. My “guaranteed accurate” thermometer gave me a reading of 95 degrees, which is strange mid-October weather in Iowa. (This never changed once throughout the day, despite the temperature dropping from mid-60’s to high 40’s.) And my trusty compass assured me I was traveling north as I drove home, even as I was driving straight east for miles. Ugh. I had gotten screwed. And do you know why?
I was so eager to fix my problem, I was willing to accept any solution. I didn’t even look at any other stores or check out Google for other options. I don’t even remember looking around the aisle at Wal-Mart for other choices. All I could think about was solving my problem, completely, right now. So I bought a poorly made tool that did exactly nothing of what it promised. In fact, I didn’t even check to see if it worked before dedicating 2 minutes of my life smashing it into my dash with my entire body weight. Smooth move, Thomas.
After spending a good chunk of time removing the boneheaded purchase (and its stinky gunk) from my dash 2 days later, I realized this wasn’t the first time I had made a hasty decision or purchase. I do it all the time. A cheap thermometer/compass tool isn’t a big deal, but it shines as an example of my thought process as I make decisions, both big and small.
If I would have simply waited 15 minutes until I got back home, I could have Googled a solution with high reviews from other drivers. I could have checked prices at Wal-Mart, Target, AutoZone, and more. This would have saved me $3.89, 2 days of buyer’s remorse, and it would have actually solved my problem (which is still unsolved). All I had to do was be a little more patient.
Do you find that you struggle with this as well? Are there other areas of your life that you switch plans and make choices due to a lack of patience? I rush to find the newest workout plan that offers “guaranteed results” and “massive triceps in 3 days or less”. These change every week, so my workout regimen does too. I read half an article about yogurt’s dietary powers on the Internet and all of a sudden I’m shoveling Yoplait in my mouth at every meal. I see clients meeting with my mom (a registered dietician) and filling her in on this new diet they’re trying that “works better than anything I’ve ever tried!” They are usually off of that diet within 2 weeks and moving to the next one they swear is even better. What’s the deal?
This isn’t just fitness, either. If I do the same boring thing at work for a week straight, I start looking around at what other people are doing in their jobs and thinking about how much fun that would be. I often look at my savings account and decide it’s growing far too slowly, so I begin brainstorming additional ways to make money. When driving to Ames from Des Moines, I try a different route each time because I just know I can shave 3 minutes off my travel time if I go up the “back route”. What’s the deal?
Patience comes down to trust. If you trust that something good is going to happen, then you have a great reason to be patient. But when you lose trust and you no longer believe that waiting is worth it, then why would you be patient? You wouldn’t. Trust is essential to patience. I need to trust in my workout plan to achieve my results. I need to trust that slowly saving my money is a responsible way to build up my savings for later. And I should have trusted in the opinions of other drivers before spending actual money on my Wal-Mart debacle.
In my life, I have recently been putting a lot of my trust in God. I realize people might be at different points in a relationship with God, but I just wanted to share something that works for me. God says through the Bible that He has our best intentions in mind, and why wouldn’t He? He created us. All too often, I try to take things into my own hands (my Wal-Mart purchase, my new diet, my get-rich-quick schemes), and every single one of those plans fail. And they fail hard, right on their face. It has been very helpful for me to slow down and trust in God’s plan, not my own. But I still struggle with it every day, because I’m so used to this culture of impatience and trying every new thing on my own.
Trusting in His plan gives me more patience than I could ever have on my own, because I know His plan is simply better than mine. It also helps my mind to relax and become free, because the pressure is off. God has it all under control, and that is a freeing thought! I can stop scheming, planning, and worrying. That greatly improves my mental health and reduces my stress level. All I have to do is trust. And be patient.
I’m a work in progress. I’m one half-bent piece of a 1,000 piece puzzle, but with patience and trust I’m confident I can continue to make progress. My body can get healthier, and my mind can become healthier through freedom of stress. Patience is a pretty powerful tool. Way better than anything you can buy for $3.89 at Wal-Mart…trust me.
What do you think? What are you impatient with in your life? What creates that “rushed” feeling inside of you? How do you deal with trusting in your future plans? Let’s talk about it as a community! Leave some comments and join the discussion.