I have always been an “I do it myself” kind of girl (Lucy comes by it honestly). My parents tell stories of 3 year old me, declaring that I could do everything myself. I’m proud of my independence and gift of speaking my truth. However, on the flip side, I’m also a highly sensitive person that gets so anxious about pleasing others. I replay conversations with friends and strangers for days wondering if I misspoke or said something wrong. I hate disappointing people, especially my people. This dichotomy of emotions tugs at my heart and often leaves me in panic mode trying to figure out which side will win. Will I be strong and brave today, or weak and anxious? On my bad days, in order to fight against this feeling of panic, I try to control everything. I try to control what my kids wear, and eat, and say. If they look all pretty and perfect, then maybe I wont be anxious. I try to control the interactions I have throughout the day by attempting to be the perfect friend, wife, mother, daughter. I even try to blame my anxiety on my people – If I can do it all just right, then nobody can be displeased with me, they will say all the “right” things, and I can be both brave and overcome my anxiety. If everyone around me is happy because I made them that way, all will be well.
Turns out this is not a good strategy for life.
It’s actually really hard and exhausting trying to control everyone else’s emotions. Who knew?
In the church world, I have been taught that I just need to “give it all to God.” “Let go of all of my worries and just let God take over.” And while I understand the sentiment here, I dont necessarily agree. My kids have this excellent Children’s book Ruby Has a Worry. In it, Ruby finds out that the only way to make her worry smaller is to share it and talk about it with others. I truly believe that sharing and speaking our worries to God is a beautiful start. We should lay them at the feet of Jesus. I believe that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. As an anxious person this is a wonderful declaration. But does laying my burdens down, mean that I then turn and run? God is a good Father/Mother and good parents listen to their children as they pour out their worries and fears. Good parents listen, encourage, and walk with you through them. They don’t, however, take the wheel and try to fix everything and control their children’s lives, right? I believe that the answer is not in the laying of the burdens, but in what we do once we have laid them down. I don’t follow a God that treats me as a pawn or a puppet. I follow a creator, an artist, that asks me to come paint alongside them. We create together. Thats the beauty of who God is. He isn’t an ATM or a driveby wishing well. He is an artist that wants to paint a beautiful picture, a beautiful life with us. Emmanuel is God with us, not God in place of us.
Amos 4:13 –
“He is here.
The one who forms the mountains,
creates the wind,
and reveals his thoughts to [humankind],
the one who makes the dawn into darkness
and strides on the heights of the earth.
The Lord, the God of Angle Armies, is his name.”
He is with us. The God that created the wind is a present God that wants to carve and sculpt with me . The God who formed the mountains is still waiting to write a beautiful story with ME. The God who makes the dawn into darkness and that darkness back into light, He wants to shape and create a life with me. The art that our creator inspires is not just paintings and manuscripts. He wants to create a life worth living, a life full of wonder and magic and joy.
The hard part is that we wont be able to see the beauty or hear him whisper alongside us unless we let go of the control. But remember, don’t let go just so that He can control everything. He is here with us, not to control us or to control our world. But he is here waiting for us to stop listening to what the world wants of us and to start creating. He is a creator. God is an artist. I am convinced that the opposite of control is not apathy. The opposite of controlling everything around me is not that I just don’t care anymore. The opposite of control is creativity. I have to let the creator of the universe, reveal himself to me. That is impossible if I am constantly trying to do everything and be everywhere and please everyone. I am missing the creativity. I am missing the beauty.
To find that beauty, in order to actually be creative, I have to make space for that. Just as God spoke the world into being out of nothing, creativity can only come from nothing. I have to make space to listen. To see what God is up to and to join him in that. It is not my job to be everything to everyone or even to produce the most perfect and beautiful art. I just need to listen to where God is and join in. That is where art begins.
I want to create a beautiful life. Not a controlled one. It wont be a perfect life. It may still be full of hardship and heartbreak, but it will be beautiful.