It’s safe to say I have done my fair share of worrying about pretty much everything—the future, finances (every day), relationships, grades, jobs—you name it. I’m 23. It’s just where I’m at in life, and I’m sure you’re somewhere similar. A whole lot of crazy is going on, and we have to sort through it and still come out a survivor. Growing up is hard, change is uncomfortable, and paying bills is even worse. We’re left with what seems to be a mess, and we ask ourselves why we weren’t prepared for the hard times. In my case, worry takes over. It seems to dust off the deep crevices of my imagination, and what was once a small situation becomes a large and daunting dragon to slay. My response to worry is defense, and my initial reaction is to suit up, grab my sword, and bring down that dragon of a situation. And then about five minutes later, my armor gets heavy, and my arms get tired of holding up my sword. What’s wrong with me? Am I not strong enough? I usually decide to toughen up. Nothing and no one can get to me if I just focus and work a little harder. Walls are constructed. I know enough, I’ve worked enough, I’ve seen enough…I can do it…right? And then I harshly realize that I can’t.
I like being control and knowing what’s going on. I like having it all together. I rarely give up. All good things, right? Time to be transparent. In the past five years, God has entirely shaken me up. His Word has struck the deepest parts of me, and my flesh has been hurt. The very same Word that struck me has also cleansed and restored me. It hasn’t been my words, my deeds, or my defenses that have brought me out of the dark times. I’ve had to lay down my armor and sword of defense and allow His word to be my two-edged sword, while also being the lamp that lights my path.
Letting go is scary…
Let’s just be entirely real: letting go is scary. Just like the child who clings to their blanket for safety and comfort, we often carry so many sources of temporal security that it end up weighing us down. Just like the parent who eventually has to take away that blanket (for obvious reasons), our Lord has to strip us of those things that “so easily beset us.” Hebrews 12:1 reminds us to “strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us” (NLT). Sometimes these changes are unwanted, and they are never easy. In fact, they often hurt. But as we grow into being mature Christians, we have to put away childish things, as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 13.
My sophomore year of college was probably the hardest year of my life. I was consciously trying to grow up, be responsible, make good grades and choices, and please God while doing my thing. And it just wasn’t working. I felt like I had given everything I had to offer, and I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually spent. All of the friendships I held close were failing, I needed a new job because my finances were seriously struggling, and I just couldn’t seem to keep my head above the water. I felt like everything I knew was coming to an end. Well, in a sense, everything I knew was coming to an end. I was attempting to seek God, but follow my own path. I was at a Holiday Youth Convention over Christmas break when a friend of my family spoke into my life. He explained that God was trying to grow me. He explained that when a seed is planted, it must first be broken in order to sprout new life. Once the new buds have come through the soil, they will constantly go through changes so the plant can bear the most fruit. The roots grow deeper; the plant must be transferred to a larger pot—a vital time, and a test of the plant’s strength. This plant must be nurtured and taken care of until is ready to survive on its own. Eventually, the plant must be transferred to the ground—the real world (another test of strength). The environment is not controlled, and the still-tender blooms are completely vulnerable to the elements. And that was where I was at in my life. The comfort of my parents’ home, church, and ministries no longer defined me. I was being transferred into an environment where I had to establish my roots, and I was being transferred to “a different pot.” This is the place where my relationship with God was tested.
The process is painful…
My friend also explained the relational gaps I was feeling in my life were holes where “weeds and rocks” once were. For the plant’s life to continue, the gardener must get on his hands and knees and personally get rid of the things that threaten the blossoms. Weeds that can choke the roots, rocks that hinder the plant’s path, bugs that eat away the fruit; they have to be eliminated for the well-being of the plant.
That process was so painful for me because there were things I had held onto for comfort that were actually harming me. And the Lord saw it. He always saw me and knew where I was all along the way because He was with me. When my friend brought this to my attention, my perspective entirely changed. I had taken comfort in my discomfort, and I had pushed away my Creator in the process. I had lost sight of Him, even though I was desperately trying to please Him…with my own ideas of what my life should look like.
Psalm 37:4-5 states, “Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it” (NASB). He will do it! What a promise. The only thing I can do is trust Him. Proverbs 3:5-8 in the NLT pretty much knocks me over every time I read it. We focus on verse 5 alone but often leave out the following verses (and the previous verses, but that’s a different story for a different day). The passage reads, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.” There are conditions to the promise of restoration. 1) Don’t trust yourself, 2) seek the Lord first, and 3) don’t think of yourself as wise (see the direct connection to turning away from evil). So simple, yet packed full of commitment.
My friends, I encourage to possibly take a step back from your situation. Sometimes we get ourselves so wrapped up and entwined in the issue that we can’t see one end from the other. We’re struggling to get out, and we think we can fix it. The Lord has not left us alone to untangle ourselves from the mess. However, this mess is not without a purpose. We often go through rough spots so we can grow. It can be painful and irritating. But the point is not pain, or the outcome. The point is the process. Romans 5:3-4 says, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” Your God has not left you to suffer; trust His will and His process. “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6, NKJV). From one control freak to another, my advice to you is to be rooted in His word; fall in love with Him all over again; seek Him in everything you do. He knows the plans He has for you, and they are plans of prosperity and hope, not destruction (Jeremiah 29:11). Trust in Him, and let go.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Arica DeMerchant is an alumnus of Urshan College in Florissant, MO. She and her husband, Randy, live in Louisville, KY, and have just recently celebrated one year of marriage. She thoroughly enjoys a good book and an even better cup of coffee. Follow her on Twitter! @AricaC