Of Habañeros, Faithful Friends, and Calming Seas

You’d fight the feeling, but you feel you’ve already lost. Every time you feel the soft tug of uplifting encouragement, you turn right around to see the stark mountains of reality standing against the horizon. “It’ll be easier if I just give in. I’m only deceiving myself if I refuse to see it all.”

planning-250091_640   In the past couple weeks, I’ve been increasingly conflicted about the future; where am I going? What am I doing now to best prepare for it? Am I really where God wants me? I’ve been facing these questions in my career options, personal decisions, even in struggles with a temporary job. The most difficult part, and I believe why that negative self-doubt was so piercing, is that none of those questions are wrong or dangerous on their own. In fact, it can be sufficiently dangerous to be ignorant or lackadaisical in regards to those questions. But when you let those creeping thoughts and worries to gain such a strong foothold in your mind that they undermine any confidence or forward momentum you may have, the result is a paralyzing myopia – an inability to trust in yourself or God’s plan. And worse still, it can be practically impossible to break out of this cycle by yourself.

In those moments, I can only pray you have friends like I do – friends who will give you that soft encouragement, or even gentle rebuke, to push you back to a more healthy line of thinking. Today it came in one of the most powerful ways possible. When you’re feeling confused, frustrated at your confusion, and further confused by your frustration, you can lock yourself off from any obvious advice offered to you. And then someone just offers quiet encouragement, so simple and subtle, it slips right past your encouragement-defense radar. In this instance it was simply a song, messaged me by someone close to my heart. It’s a Downhere song, Calmer of the Storm. The lyrics are fairly simple, but they hit me hard.

I find I’m amazed
By the power of Your will
‘Cause I’m a child of little faith
I feel the wind and forget Your grace
And You say, “Peace, be still.”
There on the storm I am learning to let go
Of the will that I so long to control.
May I never trust, never trust in me
‘Cause there in Your arms I find no tragedy.
   Have you ever bit into a Habañero pepper? It’s not like a Jalapeño; you may not feel the heat immediately, but you slowly feel the incessant build of a fire you can’t put out, until it reaches temperatures approximating the interior of the sun. As I listened to the song, my soul went on a Habañero binge. I can’t shake the burning feeling that I’ve let so many little worries once again creep into my life, stealing my joy and robbing my ability to reach out to others. In trying desperately to maintain control of all the issues in my life, I’ve become increasingly controlled by them. And I hadn’t even seen it until now.
   I still have to face those life questions, and they won’t be going away anytime soon (excepting some fairly Martin Luther-style conversations with God). But at least for now, I’ve been reminded once again of the bigger picture view; of God’s power and control over situations far outside my reach; and of the absolute necessity for faithful friends who don’t shy away from your difficult patches.

   And I don’t think I’ll be forgetting the burn anytime soon.

My encouragement to any of you out there reading this:
If you’re struggling, like me, with a lack of control in your life, a sense of confusion regarding life plans, or even if you’re just questioning where you are right now – It’s okay to be unsure. It’s okay even to be confused about things. But don’t let it control you; don’t let your attempts at normality or order rob you of the joy and adventure possible in following God’s plan one step at a time. Yeah, it’s a bit scary, it’s a bit unnerving (especially if you like to have your life sorted out, like me). But the comfort of knowing God is in control will always outweigh any temporary confidence gained from struggling for control.

Plus.. life is supposed to be an adventure. And adventures have nothing to do with normality or order.