Here’s a confession: I read books back to front. I sneak peeks. I look ahead.
When the final Harry Potter book came out I ran to Wal Mart to snag a copy and stood there in the aisle, reading the last few pages. I had a very specific list of things that needed to happen, and not happen, in order for me to invest the time and energy in reading the whole blasted thing.*
Perhaps I overvalue my time. Perhaps I am a control freak. Mostly, I think I just don’t like surprises, even when they might be pleasant ones. Uncertainty stresses me out.
Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in life. You don’t know what tomorrow will bring. No one can ensure that those you love will not suddenly be taken from you, or that you, yourself, might not cease to exist on this plane in another moment. Every breath is a gift. Death is the only certainty, yet it always takes us by surprise.
I know that, as a Christian, I can claim the pat promise that God is working all things together for my good, and that His plan, ultimately, is what I can trust in wholeheartedly. There is a vast gulf between believing this, I have found, and being okay with it.
I have felt at times that my life is like a pinball machine, with all my children and my loved ones careening about the board, sometimes with disastrous results. I imagine God pulling the plunger again and again, laughing maniacally. In other words, He causes the action, but the results are random. I’m not sure what sort of philosophy that lends itself to, but it’s not terribly encouraging.
Other peoples’ lives seemed much, much more orderly and predictable. Mine, with thirteen children in play, tends to resemble anarchy and chaos more often than not. I used to feel that I had to control everything around me, to reach out and grab the pinwheeling metal balls and force them to go where I wanted them to go. I thought it was all up to me. I was wrong.
Some people believe that all control is an illusion; that we control nothing at all, ultimately, and that the universe carries us along and everything is just as it needs to be in the moment. There is a lot of comfort in that idea, but I don’t know why it’s easier to trust “the universe” than it is to trust in “God”. Perhaps they are the same thing, ultimately.
I don’t know what I believe. All I do know is that thinking I needed to control everything, by my thoughts, words, and prayers, was destroying me quite literally. The idea that I was moving God’s hand to do what was best is one I embraced and now eschew.
God will do what is right, and the only things I can control are my own thoughts and actions. If I trust in a higher power, I must give myself up to it completely, and not constantly be in a tug of war over what is mine and what is its. It’s all going to be all right, in the end. If it is not all right, it is not the end. Or so the saying goes.
For now, it works.
*I read the final book, and loved it. Mostly because I knew that things worked out according to my specifications.