For this week’s Tuesday’s Trials Series I am going to cover the thing I have to say that of all that we have faced on this journey was spiritually the most difficult – surrendering control over my life. I had to stop trying to force my life to go according to my design and recognize that God had a much greater plan. This did not occur overnight.
I was a bit handicapped in this territory. Growing up, I could virtually do anything I set my mind to (except, maybe anything related to crafting, but that’s a story for a different day!). I grew up loving to learn, playing sports, participating in band. I got my college degree, and then married my best friend. I had my hiccups here and there, but overall, it was pretty much how I envisioned life should be. I never really had to rely on anything but myself to get things in place. We were married for almost a year, in our mid 20’s, a perfect time to start a family, or so we thought.
So we started trying, which gives the illusion that we had power over the outcome we were trying to achieve. After a year, we started infertility treatment. Again, there is an active participation involved, making it feel like we had control. We were greeted with failure after failure, no matter what we tried or how promising the outcome appeared. Little by little, it became obvious that we were not in charge.
I would love to say I surrendered willingly, but as one who liked control over every detail, that was hard to accept. I finally was being forced to rely on God. Sure, I prayed and went to church. I thought I was pretty secure in my Christian walk. Realizing I had to surrender my dreams at His feet, not knowing what the outcome was going to look like was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I had to place my trust in something beside myself.
Being a fiercely independent person, it did not come easily. I struggled through episodes of anxiety and depression. I developed an eating disorder, desperately trying to regain a sense of control over my life. I wish I would have been able to trust and surrender, but it took a few years of fighting with God. There was no “Aha! Moment”, where suddenly, I understood what I needed to do. It was a series of little encounters where I could see God’s plan at work in some of the more mundane areas of our life, before I could finally hand over the reins.
I would also love to say that this has been a one-time trial that I was able to learn from and permanently apply it to my life, but it is something that I have wrestled with throughout our journey. It has taken a conscious effort over and over again, each time we are faced with another trial on this road. It is something that has gotten easier over time. I am better able to recognize the times where I am trying to run my own life instead of waiting for God to reveal what is next for us. There is an indescribable peace that comes when I remember to rely Him instead of me.
What I have learned is that I have to keep trying, but recognize in that the trying may be more about the lessons God needs me to learn, than the outcome which I desire. For those seeking out starting a family, you can have sex in as many positions as you like, as many times as you like with every fertility drug possible; you can get on as many adoption waiting lists as you want and network to your heart’s desire, but ultimately the child God has waiting for you will only arrive on His timetable, which two children later, has proven to be the absolute perfect time.
I am not saying to stop all of the trying. There is a lot of good that comes from it and I believe God gives us the science and tools in this life that we need to achieve a given outcome. What I am suggesting is to stop placing so much weight on the procedures necessary to produce the given outcome. Learn to trust that what is meant to happen will happen when it is supposed to. Give up the desire to control end result. Learn to trust God’s will for your life. Enjoy the journey a little more. Life is not all about the end result. It’s the experiences getting there that shape us into who God needs us to be for His ultimate purpose.
And, don’t take years to get there! Take my struggle as a shortcut in your own life. I would say “Trust me”, but I know if you are anything like me, the whole problem boils down to struggling to trust to begin with. If anything, trust the truth that the Bible provides…
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)