What do you do when life spins out of control?
When your stomach is churning and your mind racing, what is your response?
Some people stop eating, some people hide from their emotions in TV binge-ing or sleep. They drown it out in books or loud music.
But this does nothing to actually calm our hearts.
We may have escaped our emotions for a while, but eventually we’ll have to face our issues and do something about them.
My escape is cleaning.
When I’m worried, stressed out, or angry, my house is really clean. All of the unrest I feel inside comes out in frenzied cleaning, organizing, and straightening.
And while I’m buzzing around my house sweeping up dust, mopping floors, and putting clutter back where it belongs, my mind is racing to come up with answers and solutions.
I can usually be found muttering to myself under my breath as I think up one solution after the next.
As if the entire outcome depends on me.
You see the problem?
In my self-sufficiency and pride, I fail to see that the outcome doesn’t depend on me figuring out solutions and steps.
I mean, I’m cool as long as I have a 5-step process to get through the problem.
As long as I can see a clear path to my destination, I can go through just about anything. It’s when I don’t see the next step that I begin to have anxiety, unrest, and fear…
Fear of the unknown
Fear of what could happen if I take that next step and I fall flat on my face
Fear of a journey when the destination is unclear
I wonder if Abraham felt like this sometimes.
The issue is, when I’m not in control of the process, when I can’t see the journey and destination, when I don’t even know where the destination is, I get anxious.
Being out of control is a scary thing!
But when we’re out of control, God is still in control. And this is good news because when God is control, we are in far better hands then when we’re in control.
I can’t tell you how many times I messed things up trying to be in control.
I annoy people, I nag, I snap, and I frustrate everyone around me because rarely those around me do things exactly the way I want them done.
In the end, I seize back everything I’ve delegated, because I can do it better and faster….and then I’m even more stressed out because I have too much to do.
Being in control is actually not very fun.
And that was my struggle as we began this study. There were a lot of “unknowns” and dark, unfamiliar paths ahead of me that were, quite frankly, freaking me out.
I was tied up in knots every single day and my mind was racing, trying to come up with strategies and 5-step plans to make it all work.
And then I remembered these four things I need to do when I’m out of control
I love this week’s study in Rest and Release with Courtney Joseph! What a perfect way to end this Bible study on learning how to walk through life’s messes with confidence and a peaceful heart.
1. Be Still
The Hebrew word in Psalm 46:10 is actually very interesting. It not only means stop, cease, relax or be quiet; it also means abandon, fail, be faint, and weaken.
I found this strange at first.
Then I began to think about this verse and the context in which it was written. This is a song of encouragement. Though life may be falling apart all around us, though we may feel that we are drowning in grief and trouble, though all around us we see destruction and violence…
We will not despair!
God is in our midst.
The Lord of hosts is with us!
- Be still.
- Stop worrying.
- Quiet your heart.
- Abandon your 5-point plans.
- Admit that your human strategy is a failure.
- Confess your human weakness.
2. Give it to God
I know this sounds cliche, like “Let go and let God”, but it’s not. Scripture tells us to trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding. We’re to submit all our ways to Him, and let Him straighten out our paths.
Our 5-step plans and visions to a clear destination are really distorted by our human understanding.
This is a problem because this life isn’t all physical. This life has another dimension to it that we often fail to remember – a spiritual dimension. Our human understanding may work in a physical realm. It may make good sense: financially or business-wise, but when you throw in the spiritual realm our plans are incompetent.
When we approach life from a human perspective, we are only seeing uni-dimensional.
We need spiritual vision to see the spiritual dimension that includes the enemy’s strategy, spiritual warfare, and demonic attacks that would make our grand plans look like toddler drawings on the wall.
We need Almighty God to lead us through each situation because He is all-powerful and can navigate the spiritual strongholds and attacks that would threaten to take us out.
3. Memorize and meditate on Scripture
Scripture says that our ways are not in agreement with God’s ways and our thoughts are not in agreement with God’s thoughts.
Most times they are opposed to one another.
When we’re down to our double-digits in our bank account, our response is to hang on to what we have. God says, “Give and it will be given to you”.
When people reject us because we have chosen to shape our life around biblical standards, our response would be to get defensive. God says, “Rejoice. Be glad! You’re blessed!”
The only way we can bridge the gap between our thoughts and ways and God’s thoughts and ways is to memorize and meditate on Scripture.
By memorizing and meditating on Scripture, we begin reshaping our thoughts and our ways so that they come into agreement with God and His Word.
I’ve written a few articles on memorizing Scripture.
I’ve also written about biblical meditation, and plan to write more on that subject in the months ahead.
4. Train your heart
You can’t do these steps once and call it good.
Oh, how I wish that were the case! My life would be so much easier if when going through a problem in life, I could just stop, give it to God, memorize and meditate on a few scriptures, and then never worry about it again.
But that’s not life.
Just like I didn’t take my little toddler to the potty once, sit him on it, tell him what to do, and expect that we were done with diapers and accidents.
It took time.
I had to take him to the potty multiple times a day, change wet and messy pants, wash bedding multiple times a night, and repeat the whole process for weeks (read: months).
There were times I told my husband, “Our son will be the first grown man to wear diapers at his own wedding!”
I despaired at times of ever getting my kids potty trained.
But with consistency we got there. My kids are in Kindergarten and 1st grade, and I have no worries in that department any longer.
Just as I had to be consistent with potty training, we must be consistent with heart training.
Yes, there will be times when we give our troubles to God and genuinely feel peace in our heart, only to find a few hours later that we’re chewing on it again.
Does that mean we’ve failed?
Does that mean that the peace we felt a few hours ago wasn’t real?
It just means that our heart needs more training. So, it’s time to go back to step one and start all over again. And we’ll do this many times a day – sometimes for days or weeks, even months. But with consistency, we will begin to find that this process becomes second-nature to us.