I am a control freak. Not. I am a perfectionist. Similar to a control freak but wayyy more emotional. Lately God has been challenging this side of me in ways I never anticipated. Its not very much fun because well, its a challenge and challenges are hard. Hence why we call them challenges. Say that 3 times fast.
My husband and I have been struggling through a lot of things lately pertaining to our spiritual walk with Christ, our finances, and our ever challenging (there’s that word again) teething 7 month old baby. Its definitely been interesting if not all fun around the Keller household. Oh how we have been learning though! God has been testing our hearts and our faith in so many different ways and as uncomfortable as it may be in the moment I am so glad He is using this time to teach us.
My husband’s grandmother, and my husband as well, are big advocates for writing down how and when we see God move so that we can go back and look at it when we are feeling especially challenged or when we need a reminder of answered prayers. As much as I love journaling I thought I’d take it a step further this time and share it with you all, my readers, so that maybe you can get something from it too.
After much prayerful consideration and talking with each other my husband and I have decided that now is the time for me to go back to school. I am beyond thrilled to go back, but I am also aware of all the difficulties that face families with parents who return to college and the strain this will add to our already tight budget. Not to mention how much my husband has sacrificed for this to be possible, working 70+ hour weeks at a very physically demanding job and then coming home to help me with baby L and the housework that needs to be done.
Knowing these things and being faced with this new set of challenges would normally pave the very short path from peaceful, fun loving Charlie to anxious, grumpy, overwhelmed, tearful Charlie to step up and take over my life for the semester. Amazingly, thanks to what God has been growing in me and teaching me, the ugly side of myself that worries about everything if for no other reason than just for the sake of worrying has not taken over quite as completely as she may have at one point.
Am I still anxious? You bet. I have found that anxious worrying can be just an addictive habit as drugs or alcohol. But by God’s amazing grace, I feel different this time. Yes, I am still anxious, but no where near to the degree that I normally would be and I firmly believe that God is to thank for that. Left to my own devices I would probably be hiding under my covers crying inconsolably at this point. That is not where I am though. Somehow I am making it through the current day and then the next one after that without a meltdown.
Case in point; coming in to this decision to return to school I knew that this would be like no other challenge I have taken on before. So six months ago I determined that I would change my procrastinator ways and try as hard as humanly possibly to have every extraneous detail of my schedule, financial aid, degree plan, and childcare for baby L worked out step by step by step so that all the odds and ends could be tied tightly in a neat little bow long before the semester even started. Well we all know what happens when we strive to do things out of our own strength right? Key word being Strive here.
As of August 1st I was confident that the ends of my bow were neat and tidy and that I had everything under control and thus was ready to start the semester. Then the levee broke. My bow unraveled when I learned, much to my dismay, that my childcare for baby L had fallen through for one of my classes and I was left, a week before the semester starts, scrambling to fix a problem I resented for having come up in the first place. After all, I had striven to make sure this wouldn’t happen!
Oh but it did. As is what normally happens when we build our plans on the foundation of our own strength and knowledge instead of the Lord’s. Its akin to building a house out of cardboard and praying it protects us from the rain meanwhile a pile of lumber and shingles and cement blocks lay unused a few yards away. The rains invariably come and wash away all vestiges of our measly little shelter and we sit there bemoaning our misfortunes and blaming God for letting “the bad thing” happen to us. He however remains true to His character and, after pointing to the pile of superior building materials wordlessly as if to say, “Why didn’t you use these in the first place?”, picks up a hammer and some nails and begins to show us how to erect a strong shelter to withstand the next storm coming our way.
You see, God might let the bad thing happen to us, (most of the time to show us the foolishness of doing things our way instead of His) in this case it was my childcare falling through at the last minute, but He always ALWAYS is there to help us through the aftermath and show us a better way forward if we let Him. His way of doing that for us was to provide a sitter for baby L who has not only raised 3 of her own children but also volunteers her time to help lead/organize our church nursery! Clearly a superior choice to anyone whom I could have dreampt up. She not only stepped up to the plate but she did so with such a gracious and willing heart that I was almost moved to tears at how clearly God is moving in her spirit. Praise Jesus!
This is just one of the many ways God has been teaching me lately! As this situation developed my first instinct was to dive into a pool of frustration and self pity and tread water there for a while. But God and my husband both knew that this would not be helpful. So with God’s gentle nudging of my spirit, and my husband’s blunt and honest words of wisdom, I was moved instead to pray and turn to God’s Word. Ultimately, my striving amounted to nothing and God handled it His way. In the meantime however, I was filled with a new sense of peace that I have seldom experienced before. Tempted as I was to jump into that pool of self pity, I didn’t. I sensed God’s strength bolstering me and His comfort washing over me and I was able to face this challenge which I am sure is just the first of many we will face this year with more peace and confidence in the Lord than I have ever had previously.
This is just one of the many ways I encountered God this week and I am so grateful for all that I am seeing and learning about His character. When God steps in it is truly amazing. When He steps in fear vanishes. When He steps in anxiety settles. When He steps in He moves in the most amazing ways and I am continually humbled by all that He shows me! I can only hope that you will make room for Him to step in and move in your life, I promise you will not be disappointed.
Spiritual Bread of the Week:
“Cease striving and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayers and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”