I’m a thinker. I always have been and probably always will be. I’ll spend hours strategizing over the best way to do or approach something. I’m also a master manipulator. I’m pushy, stubborn, and usually think I’m right no matter what anyone says.
I’ve had the uttermost privilege of coming alongside a few people in my lifetime when they needed a good friend most. God has used my relationships with them to keep them encouraged and going along the path He’s had planned for them. Every once in a while it’s like I get front-row seats to the greatest film ever: I get to watch God change someone’s life. It’s humbling each and every time it happens, and each time I’m amazed all over again at God’s awesome grace and power.
A couple months ago I had a God moment. If you’ve ever been in a close relationship with Christ, you know what I’m talking about. It was a moment where God literally cut me off at the knees. He shook me by my ears and yelled at me. It doesn’t sound gentle, and I can tell you that it was NOT, but it was exactly what I needed. He was telling me that I need to stop trying to manage other people’s situations, because that’s what I do naturally. I sit and think about the details of what they’re going through or struggling with, and I figure out how to solve it. And then I tell them exactly how they could fix their life by following my few easy steps. But like all humans, I don’t have the capacity to understand God’s plans, and quite often my plans interfere with what He’s trying to accomplish.
A couple months ago I had a sit-down with my best friend. I apologized to her for being a jerk, even if the manipulative thoughts never left my head, and for trying to “fix” her problems. I know, it’s funny, ME fixing other people’s problems. I have a hard enough time managing my own. But on with the story. I’d spent so much time trying to manipulate conversations and situations to get the result I thought she should achieve. And it wasn’t just her. I usually spend my entire day trying to make people think what I thought they should be thinking. That night God had brought me to a place where I was exhausted from trying to control the world on my own. No duh.
I sat there in tears and cried on her shoulder. I don’t know if she understood what was really going on in my head, but God was in the midst of teaching me a lesson or two. By the end of the night, I knew I had to step back and stop trying so thinking hard. And not just trying, but THINKING about trying. My mind would constantly turn while I tried to solve the world’s problems. And then when I thought I’d had a solution, I was all gun-ho trying to get everyone in their “places”. Of course it would never work out, and I’d wake up the next morning quite disappointed in myself.
I have a dear friend from high school whose life was drastically changed by Christ just in this past year. I’ve seen such a 180 in her. Tonight she thanked me for being such a great friend, and she thanked me for “all I’ve done”. My reaction 6 months ago would’ve been a flat out “You’re welcome. I love you! Glad I could help,” but this year it’s different. I’ve witnessed first hand that I can do absolutely nothing. I’m stupid most of the time, and I usually have really horrible ideas. My response to her tonight was a line that I believe is whole-heartedly true: “You and God did all of the work. I just showed up.”
I know I’m slow, but I’m beginning to think that sometimes “showing up” is all God really asks of us. If we see an opportunity, sometimes we need to just show up and be willing to do whatever He asks. In September I had a “divine appointment” that required me to show up and play whatever role was asked me of. Within one week I went from not knowing a particular girl at church to holding her, wiping her tears, and crying with her as she dealt with trauma from childhood abuse. I never could have predicted that, but God knew she would need someone, and He knew that if I would only show up, I’d play the role I was supposed to. I did show up, and God used me.
As I reflect on where God has me now, I have to constantly remind myself of what God has been teaching me. My instinct is to take control and protect the people I care about who may be going through something difficult. But God can do the most work when EVERYONE steps out of the way. Especially me, their pesky, nosy, pushy friend/daughter/sibling.
God will handle the details… we need to trust those to Him. We can’t be afraid of jumping in just because we’re not sure how deep the water is, how cold it is, whether there are sharks, if the floaties you bought at Target are guaranteed to work, or if there is a life guard on duty. And we can’t spend so much time focussed on the unknown details that we never embrace God’s big picture or trust in His power. Maybe you’re standing in the way of God doing something big in your life. Or worse, maybe you’re standing in the way of God doing something big in someone else’s life. Either way, if you trust Him, let Him work. Let God do His thing. Believe me, God is GOOOOOD.