I like to be in control.
I have been told that at the age of two-years-old I marched up to my Dad and his friend Stanley and informed them I would like for them to paint my bedroom for our new house blue instead of pink. It didn’t matter that the walls were already painted, I wanted a choice. At two years old.
They found it hilarious. It was the story told over and over again.
I was never afraid to ask for what I wanted.
So, it was hard when I hit a quarter-life crisis (it’s a thing) and had a sudden collision with reality that I have very little if any, control over most of my life. I handled it so well that I had a temporary bout of insanity in the middle of a Starbucks.
My hands were flailing as I was taking my sister down one of my long-winded trails. This one was about how maybe I could choose to be one of those people who never wants to get married. You can just choose to want that, can’t you?
I had developed this whole incredibly odd theory that I could convince God to take my desire for marriage away from me. It sounded entirely noble (at least in my head). I had laid out in this very logical argument that, for the sake of God’s Kingdom and because the Apostle Paul wrote some killer stuff on it, I could just decide that I had no desire to ever get married (even if I did). I could decide to change that.
That dear girl. My poor sister, with her sad blue eyes and her newly pregnant belly, just looked at me with such compassion. But she knew I was perfectly serious. And she knew I would be the person to stick with something until the end of time if I decided it. So she just said something along the lines of “I’m going to pray you change your mind. Not because a life of singleness is wrong, but because I don’t think that’s actually what you want.”
She’s good, that girl with the soft hair and truth-filled words. But I was determined, I was blue bedroom determined (and you can ask Stanley, I do not joke about such things).
I told her that I couldn’t make any promises to her, but I would hold off my vow of permanent singleness for a little bit longer to see if her prayers “worked”.
Because as much as I wanted to walk out of that Starbucks as the next self-proclaimed Mother Teresa, you cannot make a life-altering vow when your beautiful pregnant sister is about to weep into her Frappuccino.
Driving in my car, it took about two minutes before I realized I had completely and utterly lost my mind. I pulled off at an exit and sat there looking at a large Target sign and told God I had no idea what was happening to me. It took only a few seconds for Him to show up.
And there it was, the ugly and raw truth:
I had just recently experienced another failed almost relationship. So, choosing permanent singleness was going to be my way of not choosing that guy back. This felt like the 487th time this century I had experienced this whole not being chosen thing. I was so tired of this repetitive cycle. I decided to make a statement to men of the earth: I was deciding to forever choose none of them.
Yes, it was slightly insane. On the crazy scale of 1-10, it falls somewhere past 12.
Because of course, this falls under the assumption that all (or any) of the men of the world actually know and/or care that I’m not choosing them.
It also assumes that all men should be blamed for my Lifetime saga story: The Girl Who Clearly Needs to Find Men at Places Other Than Christian Churches or Organizations: A Seventy-Six Part Series.
Still working on that title.
But what was most amazing about my quarter-life crisis/temporary bout of insanity was that it took less than five minutes to have it completely dismantled.
Between the teary eyes of my sister, her prayers, and the time it took me to get to that exit, God had already convinced me to let go of what might have been the most insane idea I’ve had thus far.
Because God can dismantle our hardest heart and our biggest battle in minutes. Seconds. He can take the thing that you’re so determined is true, right, set in stone and he can rip it apart before you blink.
Because there is something inside of us that knows that the pain we sit in is not where we are meant to stay. We know when we find ourselves fighting, making excuses, pushing away, that’s not what we actually want. There is something inside all of us that knows when we go on the defense that it’s because something is not as it should be and we need someone bigger than us to step in.
So when you come to a fork in the road, where your pain gives you a choice, a choice to take control and “fix it” yourself, or to let God lead the way: I hope you realize your way to “fix it” is probably just as dumb as my idea to flippantly become a self-proclaimed nun who wanted to make her vows inside of a Starbucks.
Because your heart is worth more than the quick things you want to decide in your anger and pain. Your life is worth more than the solutions and blueprints you can draw in your minutes of venting and frustration.
If there’s one thing I have learned, it is that my worst decisions have often been made out of my deepest moments of pain. Whenever I’m about to make a choice, I have to check myself and ask, is there something below the surface here that is aching or searching for more? Do I feel lack? Am I trying to fill something on my own? Am I trying to take control? Do I think I’m better at working out my life than God?
Not just in this area of my life, but in trying to figure out the next steps, the next job, whatever it may be. I have to stop and ask myself, am I deciding from a place of pain, lack, fear?
Get someone in your corner.
That’s the other thing I would tell you. Have someone in your corner who is going to cry with you (or for you), tell you that even if you make the dumbest decision of your life they are going to stick it out with you. But pick a person who is going to tell you that you’re driving like a fool and you need to hand over that steering wheel.
Don’t try to fix it. Don’t try to plan a path around the pain.
Every path I’ve ever tried to plan around the pain has led me somewhere even darker, harder, more disastrous.
Get people in your corner. Hand over the steering wheel. Realize that God can dismantle your heart, your head, your plans in seconds if you just hand them over. All the things that you’re confused about, the disappointment, the frustration. Let it go. Stop thinking you know better than God. Pull over the car and let the thing go.
Your life is worth more than the plans you can make. Your heart is worth more than the quick-fix solutions you will create. Mother Teresa wasn’t made in a Starbucks. God can still be trusted and he is the best driver on the path of pain.
Disclaimer: this story took place many moons ago, my sister is not pregnant again.