The other day, I realized that my relationship with God has been one where I meander through life based upon the survival narrative (I did what I had to do to survive), and that He has helped me clear the hurtles, find the next path, accomplish the things that seemed important to my future, and basically enabled me to live a productive life. As if it were my plan and He was along for the ride as my Helper. And what a Helper He has been. But still … it was my plan.
What I really realized the other day is that I’ve been “using God.” Yes, using Him, calling upon Him as my project assistant, asking Him to clear the road ahead so that I could get to my intended destination. To make me safe. That has always been the destination.
To be safe.
I’ve never been safe. I’ve only felt safe. And in control. And no, I’ve never been in control. I’ve only been in the way. Apparently.
Part of feeling safe and in control has been to hold back … my thoughts, my opinions, my dreams, and my anger.
Well, the other day something changed.
The other day … yes, the same day … I discovered that my thoughts, my opinions, my dreams, and my anger were sick of, and done with, playing understudy to my lead. That it is time to put them out in front, candid and unapologetic. It is time to be real.
It is time to trust God with the plan; to trust Him with complete control. To relinquish my thoughts, my opinions, my dreams, and my anger into His hands, and as Dr. Stanley says, to leave the consequences to Him. To stop using Him.
To let Him use me.
In whatever way He wills.
There is no quid pro quo with God … not one rooted in integrity and wholeness.
I can’t tell you how relieved I feel. I don’t have to figure things out, nor do I need to control every situation, especially those involving other people and how they feel. No longer do I need to worry about the strength of my true personality and whether a word is heard in a way that causes offense or a withering of confidence. I am worried about that … but again. He is telling me to put things out there and to leave the consequences to Him … to trust that He does not see me as my father did, not the aardvark my father told me I was. He sees me in a completely different way, and knows I won’t run roughshod over others as I reveal my true self. It’s hard to believe though … after all, I’m an Enneagram 8. Look it up.
Anyway, all of this probably sounds counterintuitive. You might think that by holding things in, I was giving up control of my situation. Oh contraire! Believe me, I have honed the fine art of controlling conversations through omission … silence. What is not said is often more powerful than what is said; at least in my world. But what has that power done?
In my professional life, it has been effective at putting out counter-productive fires; a good thing.
In my personal life, it has built a mountain of garbage within me I’ve not been able to scale, and it is now so high, it’s falling back on top of me, threatening my life … and the only way to cut it down to size is to …
And leave the consequences to Him.
All right … I have a confession. Right now, given all that’s going on in the world, I’ve felt a growing desperation that I’m running out of time. And it’s not just because I’m getting older. It’s because there is a growing darkness on the horizon that is coupled with a growing hollowness of our world. As a Christian, I was given a job to do … to share the Gospel.
How does one do that in a world of pandemic lockdowns, ugly social media dynamics, and a church that has regressed, delivering oversimplified messages reaching only a 4th grade level of Sunday School curriculum … or so heavily theological and delivered with such lightning speed (to show off the pastor’s seminary mill-gray matter), that they make not a smidgen of impact?
That is my situation. I accept my situation as from God, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel frustrated. I know … I said I changed the other day. That’s different. I’m not frustrated with God; I’m frustrated with the church. And as a woman, I really don’t have much of a voice in the church unless I want to teach Sunday School to 4th graders and listen to women speak in shrill little girl voices all day long every Sunday.
Okay, so here’s what I did. I heard an online message this past Sunday that was, in my opinion, incomplete and kind of whiney. It had a tone of victimhood and bitterness coupled with a “suck it up and love your enemy” conclusion. There was very little exegesis of the passage, leaving me wanting for a deeper interpretation. I was looking for one that went much further in equipping the saints to step up in justice and then initiate, in mercy, an effort to move our troubled relationships up a level to a higher plane; a new plane where the relationship might be reset and begun again.
It just so had happened that I’d heard an excellent podcast on the same passage of scripture the day before. So, I sent the podcast link to one of the elders of that church. I didn’t say why I was sending it, except that it addressed the same passage as had been discussed on Sunday. Now, this elder delivered a marvelous sermon two weeks ago (after which the lead pastor flooded the room). Anyway, the elder seems open to the thoughts and opinions of others, and I realized this might be a “safe” to take a chance. Yes, oxymoron. This is how I roll.
This morning he replied to my email, asking me if I was wanting to make a counterpoint.
Now, that’s an opening! Am I right?
So, I put it all out there. I crafted the words with respect, objectivity, reason, and humor. Well, at least I tried. With my personality, I don’t always know when I’m being rude.
It was a long email, and it was difficult to stay on topic, but I sent it.
Even at the risk of never hearing from him again, I sent it.
And now that I’ve posted this, I’m going to begin working on the second chapter of my new book.
It’s been a very long time and I’ve got a lot to say.
I’m interested to see how God deals with the consequences.