Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Devastation

This morning, I had what was no small disappointment. I'd been planning for today for at least weeks, if not a month, and found out this morning that circumstances beyond my personal control were ending that at the last minute.

My first thought was "I'm so devastated." Really? Devastated? I don't like to think of myself as a drama queen - but that eloquent little voice in my head sure can be sometimes.

There are two definitions of the word "devastate" at Dictionary.com. The first - "to lay waste, destroy." I'm not destroyed! I'm definitely still here. Could I choose to let my disappointment lay waste and destroy? Absolutely. I could waste the entire day laying in bed and crying. I could destroy a friendship over the first very human disappointment we've encountered. Instead - I'm choosing to be forgiving and try to understand. I'm holding back the poisoned barbs of words that I'm tempted to fling before fully understanding what happened.

Instead, I'm doing today what I had planned to do tomorrow. If I waste today, then I've wasted tomorrow as well. I'm still off work tomorrow - and its entirely possible my plans could be picked up then. Or I could just go into work and not waste my time off feeling sorry for myself. I'm being thankful that I'm no longer studying organic chemistry like the poor girl sitting across from me in the Honda waiting room.

The second definition is "to overwhelm, confound, stun." Ok, maybe in that sense my initial reaction could be described as devastation. Except that the news that my plans were being scrambled was not the news that I or someone I love has cancer, that my car is falling apart and not covered by the extended warranty, that I've lost my job, or so many other much more important things.

Not that this wasn't important. And I will be devastated if this wasn't an isolated incident, which I believe it was. I just wish it didn't have to be today. But I'm not devastated. I'm just living life as a human with all the fun emotions, broken plans, and grinding gears that come with it. Would I want it any other way?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Open Hands

My pastor often speaks about praying with open hands, meaning going before God's throne with a willingness to let go of everything for Him, for His glory, to be in His perfect will. He asks us to be willing to give anything God asks for, do anything He asks us to do, and to go anywhere He asks us to go.

This is a hard concept for humans in general, and something I seem to have an especially hard time with. And there is really no need ... God promises to give us the strength (Philippians 4:13), resources (Matthew 6:30), and wisdom (1 Corinthians 23-25) for the things He has for us to do.

My biggest problem is in letting go of the things I've received from God. I tend to think of them as permanent. For example, my job. I feel it is definitely a gift from God. I enjoy it, and I feel like I'm contributing back to society at the same time. I started it with the assumption that this is what I would do until retirement. I couldn't imagine a reason why God would ask me to let go of it.

Meanwhile I'm praying for things like a family. And last week I had one of those "aha!" moments. I had been praying open handedly about relationships, the ways that I serve in the church and community, what groups I take part of - but I was clinging to that job for dear life. It was security and independence. But God had me realize that yes, this is what He wants me doing right now. However, He wants me to be willing to give it up if He asks.

And that made me realize, what if He does bless me with a family - do I want to put this job over them? Absolutely not. The fear of thoughts like "But what if God asks me to leave the country and be a missionary - how would I pay my student loans?" dissolved. He will not ask me to do anything He hasn't provided for. I can let go. That's what He asks us to do. It's called trust. Why is it sometimes easier to trust humans, who are going to fail in some way eventually, than a God who never fails and never leaves us?

If I'm really putting my trust in God - its easy to pray with my hands wide open (John 14:1) and get ready to enjoy the ride.