Less Is Best: Counterintuitive Lessons on Control

Last week I had lunch with a new friend at an adorable restaurant in Downtown Franklin called the Mercantile. (It’s the cutest soup, sandwich and salad shop you could imagine, and they always have fresh flowers in blue mason jars sitting on top of each table. Very Joanna Gaines!)

My friend and her family are adopting a baby boy from China, and I couldn’t wait to hear the latest details about their upcoming trip to bring their son home. Their adoption story is filled with such joy, love, prayer and patience. This brave calling also requires accepting a lot of unknowns about the future.

At one point, I asked her, “How do you do it? How do you manage all of these unknowns, especially when they involve people you care about so much?”

She paused, understanding the weight of my question.

“Not knowing just makes me rely on God all the more,” she replied, then added, “and that’s not a bad thing.”

Bam.

What a message! My friend hit the nail on the head in describing a theme that God has been teaching me lately:

Not knowing can be good. Not understanding is okay. Not having control helps us yield our desires to Him, which is actually where they should be in the first place.

I don’t know about you, but the whole “less is more” concept when it comes to control is strongly counterintuitive to me. In my own little ideal world, I would make plans, lay out a strategy and ask God, “Does this sound good to You? Yes? Great!”

But guess what, guys? I am not God. This realization is a human-wide struggle goes back all the way to the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve thought they had the right to know as much God.

God knew what was best for them. He loved them. They didn’t need to understand everything to trust that His plan was right and good.

Furthermore, they didn’t deserve to understand everything.

Yielding our rights, expectations and understandings to God is a difficult but beautiful process. It brings us back to where we’re meant to be. The more we let go of ourselves, the more we are able to embrace the Gospel of Christ and live the good life — the best life — that God has prepared for us.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong,” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, CSB).

Like A Child

This summer I had the WONDERFUL blessing of living with my aunt, uncle and precious, rock-star cousins, Parker (8) and Caroline (6). I can’t tell you what a joy it was to come home from work to squeals of excitement, giant hugs and a million shouts of, “look what I did!”

I loved the everyday adventures of living with Parker and Caroline. Through laughter, tears and everything in between, they reminded me of what it means to be a child. God used this experience to give me a living picture of what it looks like be a child–His child!

Ask Questions

My favorite question of the summer was when Parker asked me what college was like. I begin to explain that I’m in 16th grade, I live without my parents [WHAT?!] and I sort of get to choose my own classes. Caroline looked at me with a squinty-eyed faced, like she was thinking hard. “Why don’t you play games instead?”

Good question, Caroline. If I get to choose my classes, why wouldn’t I play games instead? I said that the classes were for my “major,” which would hopefully lead to a job. I told her that I was majoring in writing.

Again, she makes the squinty face. “Why not crafts?”

Hmm. Why not crafts? I’ll have to run that by Aunt Angie and Uncle Don.

Be Messy

Sometimes I felt like a juggler, subconsciously waiting for something to fall, break, spill or who knows what else! But as time went on, I realized that making mistakes is part of the process of growing. If I never let Caroline hold her own milkshake, she wouldn’t learn how to keep it from spilling. If I always insisted that I hold onto the dog’s leash, Parker wouldn’t have the chance to practice being a leader and taking responsibility.

While I was always there to support and guide them, I couldn’t do everything for them. I’d be there before, during and after, but they had to learn some skills on their own!

Sweet Moments

So many sweet moments. This is a picture of a letter Caroline wrote me on a weekend when they were out of town. It’s just one of the many precious memories that I treasure from my time this summer!img_7818

Limited Understanding

This insight was probably my most impactful lesson from the whole summer. Sometimes children ask questions that are simply too big, too complicated and too above-their-heads to answer. I knew that they either could not understand, or they didn’t need to understand.

Friends, please stop and think about this in light of our relationship with God the Father. How many times do we ask, beg, yearn to understand things that don’t make sense to our small, earthly brains. God wants us to ask Him questions (James 1:5), but sometimes we’re not supposed to know the answer (Deuteronomy 29:29).

It’s hard, but it’s also comforting that we don’t always have to know. We can trust Him to be good, greater, wiser and better than our earthly perspective. Take a deep breath and let that sink it. That’s encouraging!

Limitless Love

There’s something unique about the pure, limitless love and adoration of a child. They aren’t afraid to wrap you in a hug, sit to by you during a movie or tell you that they wish you could stay forever.

As adults, we often think long and hard before expressing our feelings, especially to those we really care about. What if we weren’t afraid to say, “I love you” or “I need you”? What if we worshipped God with a pure joy that springs from the heart?

 

These are only a handful of the many lessons that God taught me this summer. Hopefully my experience will encourage you to examine your relationship with the Lord, the perfect Father!

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14, NIV).


REFLECTIONS from a year of blogging

I have spent the past 12 months blogging for WMU’s “myMISSION” collegiate column. It’s been fun, challenging and–if I’m honest–convicting! Each month I had to stop, take an aerial view of my life and ask, “How have I been living on mission? Where am I sharing the Gospel? Am I being responsible and sharing the incredible gift that I’ve been given?” (Luke 12:48).

Sometimes blogging intimidated me because I’m not perfect. *Gasp!* What if I shared what God’s been teaching me, and then I messed up? How could I encourage others to not worry when I tend to worry myself?

Well, friends, God taught me a message that is both humbling and hopeful: We’re not perfect. He is. We fail. He doesn’t.

The beautiful thing about being a child of God is recognizing that we don’t always have it together, and that’s okay. God knows that we mess up, but He still wants to work through us!

Throughout this year, I’ve learned that blogging is best when it’s about real life. When I obey God, when I disobey God, when it’s easy or when it’s hard. Christians aren’t perfect robots. We are sinners saved by grace.

All that to say, I’ve pick out some of my favorite blogs and categorized them for you to look through! I hope you can relate to them and learn from my experience. Don’t forget, I always love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Enjoy!


EVANGELISM

Not Just Another School Subject

What if the Sunday School Answer Is True?

Working on Vacation

 

ENCOURAGEMENT

When It’s Easier to Give Up

Loving for the Long Run

A Small Me in a Big World

 

PRIORITIES

Forgetting Step 1 – Prayer

My Secret Gift

Brew a Cup of Real Love