I don’t know how to process what I am feeling right now. Emotionally tired? Confused? Overwhelmed? There’s one thing I do know for sure: I do not feel like writing. I keep sitting here and staring at my screen with a tremendous urge to slap shut my laptop and go do something else—anything else that would distract me from my feelings.
But I can’t even really identify what I’m feeling right now, other than anxiety. Why am I anxious? I don’t know. Literally moments ago I was immersed in a beautifully peaceful moment of quiet with the truth of God’s love pouring into my heart and mind. But the moment I left that posture of tranquility, I returned almost immediately to my previous state of angst. This is so frustrating for me. I can be completely at peace in one moment, and utterly overwhelmed the next. It seems so ridiculous, so arbitrary, so uncontrollable.
But maybe that’s the point. Maybe I am trying too hard to control it. I find it so irritating that this crazy, ravenous craving for control is so intricately woven through every single thing I do in life! Why can’t I just give it up already? Why can’t I just “let go and let God”?
At the end of the day, that’s what it has to come down to. I cannot fix myself. I will never be able to control or manipulate my mind or emotions enough to produce a healed life. And when I look at the messed up web of dysfunction that makes up my brain, it becomes even more clear to me—healing simply won’t happen if I’m in control. I’m not smart enough, strong enough, brave enough, or steady enough to do it on my own.
Fortunately, I believe in someone who can do it. Fortunately, I have been introduced to someone who is infinitely bigger than my struggles, infinitely greater than my pain, and infinitely more committed to my journey than I will ever be. When I want to give up, He keeps going. When I want to quit, He is still there, writing the next page of my story.
I’m talking about Jesus—God in the flesh, who walked the Earth some 2000 years ago, and whose Spirit is walking with me today. The One whose stories of miraculous healing and life-giving love are spattered throughout the pages of the Bible. The only One in whom I have ever found unconditional love, peace, comfort and freedom. He is the one who can get me out of this mess.
And so today I am reminded that I need to surrender. I need to hand over the control. I mean, imagine how ludicrous it would be if I was in an operating room about to receive open heart surgery, but I grabbed onto the scalpel and refused to give it to the surgeon! “No thank you, doctor, but I’d rather perform the operation myself.” Yikes! Imagine the mess I would make, not to mention the unthinkable pain I would cause myself—that is, if I even came out of it alive.
No, I don’t want to be in control of my own heart surgery. I’d much prefer to leave it to a doctor who actually knows what he’s doing. And that’s what I need to do today. Again. I need to give up control and let Jesus do the healing. I have read His words over and over this week. “Peace be with you.” But how can I receive His peace if I am too busy trying to figure out where to stick the scalpel and how to stitch myself back together? I can’t. I have to let go. I have to trust that He will do it.
I read a great tweet this week from Annie F. Downs that said, “God may not be meeting your expectations because He is busy preparing to exceed them” (@anniefdowns). I think I have certain expectations about what my mental health recovery journey should look like, and even about the kind of results that each of my action steps should produce on a daily basis. But at the end of the day, if I am going to trust God for total healing, then I am going to have to set aside my expectations.
Just the other day I wrote about how God sees the bigger picture, and how I need to trust that it will all come together in the end (read about this in Life Lessons: Jigsaw Puzzle Edition). And maybe God is not meeting my expectations today because He is getting ready to do something that will blow my mind—something that will far exceed my expectations in a way that I never would have imagined. Today I am going to cling to that thought. And in the meantime, I am going to keep going. I’m not going to give up. Because I know that my God is not giving up on me.
Do you struggle with this area of control? Do you find it difficult to let go and allow healing to happen on a timeline that is different from your own? How do you navigate the times in life when God doesn’t meet your expectations? Or, if you don’t believe in God, how do the issues of control and unmet expectations influence your journey? Either way, I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to share your comments below.