…[T]he truth is, you never had control in the first place. The only thing you do control is how you respond to your disappointments and unexpected obstacles. And here you have some options.
You can allow the river of fear, anger, and disappointment to just rage…
Another possibility is to keep trying harder. You can turn yourself inside out trying to make things happen…
But you have yet another choice.
You can get to the place where you can say, ‘Not my will, but your will [God]. I’m not in control. You are.’
If you can do that, if you can leave the puppet strings in the hands of someone who actually knows what he is doing, you’ll have a lot better chance of surviving your shattered dreams. – Pete Wilson, Plan B
My health is a frequent reminder that I’m not in control. Endometriosis keeps me on my toes on a week-to-week and month-to-month basis. I’m that annoying girl with 1,001 food intolerances that make cooking for me or picking a restaurant super tough. Exposure to chemical cleaning supplies once made the inside of my nostril swell up so much I had to have surgery to cut an opening for airflow. And on top of that I feel like I’m allllways (okay, definitely more often than the average person) sick. Not just kinda under the weather, but running a fever, “sorry I can’t come to your wedding / birthday party / Super Bowl party / play you’ve been working on all winter / help you move / my own honeymoon” type sick. And these sick-enough-to-have-a-fever-and-not-leave-the-couch instances always always always fall coincidentally on days when I’ve been invited to something important or fun or meaningful.
That happened this past week and I was furious with God about it. I was supposed to help my friends move to their first new home. I’d known about it for a month, put it on my calendar, and was super excited to help out and see their new place. And like clock work I came down with strep throat. At least I thought it was strep, I’d had it before, the sudden swollen throat that makes even water feel like tiny shards of glass, the low-grade steady fever, slight nausea and no other symptoms to suggest a virus or cold. I went to the doctor and told him what I thought and was sent away with a dismissive “it’s just a virus, you’ll be fine.”
Long story shorter, five grueling painful days later I was finally diagnosed with strep and prescribed the antibiotics I need (I hope!). But in the meantime I was mad at God. Mad that He lets me get sick so often, mad that He allows it to interfere with meaningful social invitations when He knows I so desperately want community, mad that He “set me up for suffering the minute I was born prematurely and stuck in an incubator” (yeah I went down that rabbit hole, I was really mature about the whole situation).
But the fact of the matter is it’s not up to me. I’m not in control. I can’t control my immune system or when I get sick or whether or not doctors make correct diagnoses. The only thing I can control is how I respond. I can get mad and let the river of fear, anger, and disappointment rage like I did this past week, I can try harder, or I can seek God in the midst of my disappointment and trust that if I seek His will He’ll guide me through. Easier said than done, but an important reminder during tough times all the same.
So when I read the quote above from pastor Pete Wilson’s book Plan B: What Do You Do When God Doesn’t Show Up the Way You Thought He Would? I knew I needed to pause and write about it.
PSA for the day: don’t be like me.
linking up with Jack of All Trades at A Harvest of Blessing