Friday, January 25, 2013

Accepting Your Life, Like A Gift

The other day Ann Voskamp shared how you don't get to demand your life, like a given... you get to accept your life, like a gift. And how you don't get to make up most of your story... you get to make peace with it.

Don't get to demand my own life or write my own story? What is that?!

For a self-taught, self-motivated, do-it-yourself kind of person such as myself... these are hard truths to swallow. Sometimes I just can't wrap my overly self-sufficient mind around having a "Lord." Did you know "Lord" means "Master"? Who in this day and age considers it a privilege to have someone else tell you what to do? But this is what following Christ literally means. You follow. It means you might have some good ideas, but his ideas are always better even if you don't think so.

But, really... who wants that??

To make matters worse, if you happen to be too self-sufficient for this kind of "following," do you know what label Christians slap on you? Prideful.

"Pride." (Like, in a bad way!)

I blame this whole self-sufficiency or "pride" issue or whatever you want to call it -- I blame it on growing up in a small town. Being raised in a small community, you learn a little bit about everything, and your experience of life is only as good as your own contribution. Because if you don't participate, there will be no softball team or spring play or chamber of commerce. When a group is small, people aren't just expendable... every person is valuable for something... because whoever just died was so-and-so's grandma, and whoever needs help moving in is so-and-so's uncle, and whoever just got engaged is so-and-so's sister and you better be at the wedding... Seriously. You get this sort of "I can do anything if I work hard enough and put my mind to it!" in your head, and you aren't afraid to try things. Or be the only one trying something.  

Like you can make your own life.

This is the mentality I grew up with and it was fully embraced in my family. You think highly of everyone for something and therefore you think highly of yourself for something. It gives you good self-esteem to grow up in a small town. We are a bunch of inquisitive, lifelong learners who think we can pretty much do anything if only someone will teach us how. Add to that the chorus of voices chanting, "You can be anything you want to be!" for 18 years and you've got a regular entrepreneur on your hands. At least this has been my perspective.

So, when something comes up that I didn't plan on, I am genuinely surprised. And, being called by God to "be busy at home" as a wife and mommy? Yes, I planned on that. But I planned on lots of other things that aren't happening, and there are other things happening that I didn't plan on. Therefore, much of the time I have ants in my pants like something just isn't right right now. As a wife you are not the leader and that is humbling, too. You are infinitely valuable to your family, but (most of the time) you don't get to choose the main career, where you will live, what kind of health you will have, etc. You get to make plenty of suggestions but when the rubber meets the road you are not calling the shots in your own life.

Shane, on the other hand, is terribly good at waiting. That verse, "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him" (Psalm 37:7)? Shane takes that one very seriously. Until there are angels coming down to attend him with specific, supernatural instructions, he won't be moving an inch.

Which means I have to wait, too.

It's a shame I am so intelligent and have all the answers to our problems. (Insert dramatic sigh here.) I know how to make our life better. Where we need to live. What we need to do. I know how to make things happen, and I'm not afraid to try. I know how to make things into what we want them to be. Or at least I know what phone calls to make... But these suggestions are not always heeded as almighty wisdom by my husband, and that utterly confuses me! When there is seemingly no control over the direction of our life, shouldn't I naturally just take the wheel and drive?? Because, for crying out loud, we can't just sit here and let life happen to us!

But alas, I don't get to demand my life, like a given... I get to accept my life, like a gift. 

I don't get to make up most of my story... I get to make peace with it.

If God truly is smarter than me, and is good, then surely I can make peace with what he gives.

This week we are learning about Joseph's time in jail. Joseph had to spend two years in jail before becoming the prince of Egypt. He was pretty confident in himself (proud, maybe?) before that happened. But there were still parts of his destiny that he would have no part in choosing (like whether he would be sold as a slave, be wrongly accused, and be thrown in jail). Even though he was smart, handsome, favored... he apparently needed some jail time to remind him that God was still smarter than him. I think this is what's happening to me. God is reminding me that even though I am pretty competent, he is more competent, and can be trusted. Pretty sure even with all his smarts and charm, Joseph didn't see jail coming or have the means to stop it. Just like I wouldn't necessarily choose certain realities about my life at the moment.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (I Peter 5:6)

That's what I can learn from Joseph in jail.

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him. (Psalm 37:7)

That's what I can learn from Joseph in jail.

When you are a do-er, how do you rest?

How do you change your mindset from creating your own destiny, to accepting God's destiny for you?

How do you really trust that God's ways are higher than your own, when you feel stuck?

How do you let go of the reins, without giving up?

How do you trust someone else to steer, when you can see they are turning toward the unfavorable... or the unknown?

How do you believe in a reward you have never seen?

How do you accept your life -- all of this -- like a gift?

These are mysteries I have yet to unfold. I don't know the answers, just learn as I trust. I command my soul to be still and I cling to this one simple truth: God is good.


Anonymous said...

Well said Kati. The Lord is also teaching us some of these things. Indeed, these "jail times" are a priviledge... a gift (even if unwanted!) that draw us close to the Lord- into a truly trusting relationship with our Master - in ways that wouldn't be possible if life happened "our way"! :-)

Thanks for sharing,
seth c.

Kati Potratz said...

Yes, that is the truth, Seth! We prayed big prayers for your littlest girl tonight.