When I was in high school, I was obsessed with choosing a college. I think I believed as a fairly new Christian that there was only one school that would be God’s will for me and if I picked the wrong one, I would ruin everything. EVERYTHING, I say! In fact, I was so paralyzed in my decision-making process that I chose to attend our local community college for a year. Not because I wasn’t ready to leave home, but because I felt incapable of making the correct decision. I was desperate to lock the right thing in.
Some time went by, I chose a school, went away to college, and started dating someone. And then I began panicking about after college. What would my life look like? I wanted that locked in now. So I was panicky and begging and desperate, but this time, about a boy. And I pleaded with him not to break up with me, five months in, despite all our arguing. Because I couldn’t imagine the thought of being alone, or more to the point, of not knowing if I’d be alone forever. So I arm-twisted a proposal out of him, which brought immense relief, until the day our engagement ended. My heart was broken, yes; but more than anything, I was terrified. I could no longer picture my future. So I tried to heal and act like it was no big deal if we just dated without a commitment (being the totally laidback girl that y’all know I am). That lasted about five minutes. And then the begging-to-be-re-proposed-to campaign kicked off, and I landed my man. Again. This time, not as much relief, because at any moment, I was now convinced, he might end it again. (Insecure, anyone?)
But some more time went by, and we got married.
And even some more time went by, and we bought a house. And had a baby. And bought another house. And had another baby. And bought another house.
And then one day, I was taking a walk in my neighborhood. And it hit me: I now officially have everything I have ever wanted. Everything is locked in.
I knew the husband I would have for the rest of my life. (You see where this is going, don’t you?)
I knew the children I would have for the rest of my life.
I knew the house I would live in for the rest of my life.
I knew the friends I would have for the rest of my life.
I knew the job I would have for the rest of my life.
I knew the ministry I would have for the rest of my life.
I knew the church I would be a part of for the rest of my life.
And I said to God…..not snarkily…..not as a dare or a challenge…..more out of curiosity…..more as a pondering…..more just a girl lovingly, curiously asking her Heavenly Father, “How will you ever surprise me?”
Hmmm. Sweet naïve girl.
That was ten years ago.
I do not have that husband.
I do not live in that house.
I do not have some of those friends.
I do not have that job.
I do not go to that church.
Life is funny.
Though nothing at all was locked in back then on that walk in my neighborhood – because life is not lock-in-able – I thought it was. Not in a prideful way, like I was trying to cheat death or I’m above the law or look at how I manipulated all my life circumstances and managed to get what I want or anything at all like that. I just honestly thought all of those things would remain the same, that that was the life God had appointed for me, and I was grateful. Despite the hard marriage, the rest of my life was a sweet life.
Which brings me to today. Today, there are two very large and looming areas of my life that I cannot see the end result of. I am living each day lately with a hint of swirling panic just beneath the surface. (A little side note about me: I hate swirling panic.)
I am living in the day by day more than I ever have my entire life. I can only see this one day.
But here’s the thing. Back then, when everything was supposedly all “locked in”, I only thought I could see the road ahead. I rested in that ignorant bliss. I lived in that ignorant bliss. But then upheaval came in almost every area of my life (God surprises after all). And I made it through.
So perhaps, though I feel ridiculously unsettled right now, just perhaps, I’m simply more awake. More in tune with my reality. That I have never had a crystal ball. That life doesn’t work that way. That not knowing – though I’m intrinsically not a fan of not-knowing-ness – is where my faith deepens and stretches and pulls down all around me like a blanket. It’s in the swirly-not-knowing-of-life that I can more fully know the God who does. And that’s where I can rest: because he is safe and good and loves me more than I will ever understand.
“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” –Matthew 6:34– (NASB)
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You have just detailed my story here. I was insecure and wanted to lock down my life. It’s comforting to know I’m not alone
You are absolutely not alone, Anita. Thank you for reading and commenting. -Elisabeth
It’s so hard to admit that we really NEVER have it all locked in … except for Christ himself.
Oh WOW!!! You are reading my mind again!! Or rather my heart and situation…..AMEN sister!! Praise GOD that only HE holds our future in HIS hands!! Learning to live with open hands. He’s having to pry my fingernails out of my palms, but He is able! 🙂
Open hands. Yes, Kim!
So TRUE!! Hard to accept teh reality of our insecurities but it is what it is….GOD himself is the only real
security we have! Thank you for sharing your journey….it has helped me see many things that I need to
look at from time to time. God bless you! Keep pressing on 🙂
It’s my honor. Thank you for reading and commenting! -Elisabeth
This is SO me. I just had more years to think I was secure. I feel panicked, too. Trying to cling to the cross.
“…trying to cling to the cross…” Yes, Jan. So good. -Elisabeth
Thank you. This is exactly what is going on in my mind right now as I am taking steps towards university. I hate not being in control. (Ugh that sounds ugly). I hate not knowing where I’m going — so many insecurities, tears and pains surface but a voice continually whipers that where I am right now is where He wants me to be.
Ganise, I COMPLETELY understand. The best news though, sweet girl, is that whatever you decide, God sees it already and will “play the ball where it lands”, as my mentor says. It’s all going to be okay. -Elisabeth
Wow – every time I read something from you, it is as though you peeked into my life and wrote it down. Extremely comforting to know that we are not alone. While certain details are different, I too, worked very hard in my 20s to plan every single detail of my life. Most of my 30s were spent wrestling with the fact that God had indeed answered my prayers – even with all my meddling – but the end result was not bringing me the happiness I was certain was supposed to follow. As I approached my 40s, I finally learned that I needed to give up the constant need to control and plan my life, which I did through my own actions and very specific prayers – and instead pray for nothing but God’s will to be done. For me, it all came down to trust…..trusting God enough to know that whatever He wanted, was going to be right for me. The song Oceans has become my theme song…..and I can feel the change in my heart. That’s not to say that I don’t still have moments of panic – usually several times a week – but now, I can shut them down much easier and get back on track placing my trust in the only one who has never let me down. Thank you, Elisabeth, for giving us this safe space to grow, learn and help the second half of our lives to be all that God intends for them to be.
Carolyn, thank you for these kind words and for being a faithful reader! -Elisabeth
So true! But even the day is so long! How do you get through a day that leads to nowhere? Or so it seems. Yes, my faith is growing, I am more “awake”, but the unknown is so looming. The waiting so agonizing! I guess ignorant bliss will never be found again. I’m learning to never take things for granted, but so quickly forgetting how to enjoy the small moments. I spent the day caring for a sick baby and myself who have the flu. Healing is so hard and seems to take too long! When will this darkness be lifted? 🙁