The day before had been spent crying, and it was barely an hour into the morning and tears were seeping out again. It wasn’t that it hadn’t been talked about or prayed over. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe truth or wasn’t working to trust the Lord. Everything felt out of my control, and I simply felt weary and tired of that being true.
As I read my Bible that morning, inviting the Lord in the mess of my emotions and the many things outside of my control, I had an unbidden thought. I’d rather just stay sad today.
That day, I had the opportunity to go see some friends. There was sunshine calling my name. There was hot coffee. There were a few precious moments of quiet. But in the midst of all those gifts, I felt myself wanting to stay sad, wanting to fight against the grace.
When there is much Hard, when the feelings are loud, I crave some semblance of control.
And sometimes the only control I seem to be able to find is fighting against the joy to stay in the valley. That seems better than riding the waves, when I’m so tired and weary. Staying sad feels easier than roller coaster of emotions that my fragile heart seems to ride in the midst of the Hard.
But even in those dark days, I know this isn’t the better thing. Grasping at control in this hollow way doesn’t ring true with what I know my soul needs.
When we reach for control, we announce our belief that we, rather than an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful, infinitely good God, should govern the universe. Our control issues grow out of speculating about the “what if.” Our inability to answer the “what if” definitively causes anxiety–anxiety about the likelihood that our kingdom shall come and our will shall be done. (148)
Over what do I have control? A few very important things. My thoughts, which I can take captive by the power of the Holy Spirit. And if I can control my thoughts, it follows that I can control my attitude–toward my body, my stuff, my relationships and my circumstances. (149)
What is more beautifully humbling than relinquishing control? (150)
As I read her words that day where I wanted to stay sad, I felt convicted of how often I think that I know best. I think that the world would work better in my hands. I think that if only I had control, things would be in order. It may seem silly to think that holding tight to an unwanted emotion could help anything, but it felt like something. Like that candy bar you eat instead of a real lunch, it felt like a good idea for a second or two, to hold onto control in the midst of a sea of changing circumstances and feelings.
But that line, What is more beautifully humbling than relinquishing control? echoes in my heart.
That day where I wanted to stay in the grief, clinging to the sorrow in an attempt to control something, I felt the Lord whisper to my heart, Open your hands. Open your hands to whatever I will take out. Open your hands to whatever I will put in. You can trust me. I am worthy of trusting. I see you and I love you. Open your hands to me.
And so I did. I opened my hands and my heart.
Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t want to, but knew it was what I needed. I surrendered my desire to be in control. I surrendered my grasping for answers, trying to be self-sufficient. I asked him to come into my tears, my weakness, thanking him for showing up when I don’t have it all together. I thanked him for seeing me in the hot mess days. I asked him to help me to control my thoughts, to choose gratitude, to fight for what is good and true. I asked him to help me be brave enough to open my hands to whatever he would put in and whatever he would take out.
It didn’t happen all at once that day. It was gradual and almost undetectable to anyone but my own heart. But throughout the day, the Lord took a little bit of my sorrow out of my hands. He took out my grasping for control. He took out a little of the weight from the Hard. He took out some of my fears. He took out some of my panic and dread.
And he put grace into my open hands.
He put in sunshine and a girl laughing as I pushed her on the swing. He put in thermos of coffee and a phone call from a friend. He put in my husband’s hand and a walk to the bird blind. He put in new friends and texts telling me I’m loved. He put in nachos and long drinks of cool water. He put in banana muffins and chocolate pudding. He put in dogwood blossoms and green shoots. He put in hugs and warm laundry.
He put in so much grace.
And by the end of the day, I knew that it was only because my hands were open to his grace that I was standing. It was only because he could be trusted that I didn’t have to be afraid. It was only because of he had helped me be brave that I could ride the waves.
It was only by his mercy that my hands were open.
It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. (Romans 9:16)
Friends, I loved this book. Jen Wilkin shares deep, profound truth about who the Lord is and who we are. I am often frustrated by my human limitations, but this book was the reminder my heart needed. My limitations are intentional. I need God. I was not meant to be him. I loved this look into the Lord’s attributes that are his alone, preaching truth to my soul about why I need him. Jen says “at the root of every sin is our rebellious desire to possess attributes that belong to God alone.” As much I was I wish it weren’t true, I felt the weight of these words as I read. It was a humbling look into my own heart and I’m grateful. Having an accurate picture of the greatness of the Lord and the smallness of my human form was a grace. I came away with a deep awe for the Lord’s kindness towards me and a better understanding for my own heart’s tendencies to try to be God. I’m so grateful for Jen’s humble words, her own stories and how she points the reader straight back to Jesus. A for me.
Friends, I’m thrilled that Crossway Books and FlyBy Promotions are offering me a copy of None Like Him to giveaway to one of my readers! If you are interested in being entered into the drawing, just leave a comment below. I’ll draw a name next Tuesday, May 3 and the winner will be contacted by email for their address.
Crossway Books and FlyBy Promotions provided me with a complimentary copy of “None Like Him,” in exchange for my honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255