This week, it struck me how appropriate this online retreat is to my life: the current struggles I’m facing, the interior battles I’m fighting, the daily challenges and trials I’m experiencing. In considering the three kinds of responses – just never getting around to it, rationalizing and justifying my current status instead of changing, and letting go of it by not responding — I had to laugh at myself. Those first two are so me.
“God, tell you what. Next week, I’ll work on those improvements we’ve talked about, and we’ll talk some more.” The problem is, I’m exactly like Scarlett O’Hara. Next week never comes.
“You know, God. I’ve been thinking about that area of improvement, that attachment I noticed. And if I get rid of it, life will really have to change. If I adjust how I approach life, by ridding myself of that particular thing, there are going to be a lot of people other than me who notice — and they may not like it. Surely that’s not what you’re expecting! No, it can’t be! So, hmm. Guess that’s not an area I need to work on; let’s talk about this next item.” I’m a little embarrassed, after a week of reflection, to admit how often this response gets used.
In considering how I could do a better job with the third response — which is the one God most wants me to learn to use — I had to go back and look at the two ways of desiring from last week. There’s the desire for more: riches, leading to honors; honors, leading to pride. I’m really a pro at this. Then there’s that other way of desiring, the desire to trust in God alone: spiritual poverty leading to humiliation; humiliation leading to humility. I’m working on this one, and I have a long way to go. However, I have to desire in this way — to trust God alone, to experience poverty leading to humility — in order to work on that third response, letting God do the acting.
I’m a woman of action, of doing, of crossing things off my list. Oh yes, there’s planning time, list-making, reflection — there has to be. But I really like accomplishing results. They’re the crown jewel of my life. And that’s exactly what I need to work on letting go of so that I can respond the way God’s leading me this week.
In order to let God drive the car of my life, I have to let go of the wheel and just sit there. He’ll let me know when it’s OK to open the door and jump out to get the mail or get something out of the trunk. If I’m going to get the things done that he wants done, I first have to sit still…or I might miss the still small voice. Oh yes, I’ve felt the two-by-four many times, but I’m missing something when I force God to get my attention that way. I’m missing part of the journey. I’m wasting valuable energy on struggling. I’m still attached, distracted, inattentive.
If I’m going to be free, I have to let go of what’s holding me back. When I’m trying to drive from the passenger’s seat, the car goes all over the road. Sometimes I land in the ditch. But when God drives the car, without my “help,” things go so much smoother.
That’s not to say that I won’t feel the displeasure of my tempters. Oh, they’ll object. (I’ve felt some of that this week!) But since I’m letting God do the driving, I don’t have to worry about that; I can turn my attention to praying in the little moments of the day, continuing a dialogue with God, enjoying the scenery (even as I grumble about the bumpy road).