I am a slow learner. Ok, that’s not quite right. I’m stubborn. When it interests me, or benefits me? I soak it up, I learn it quick and then I implement it in my life. But when it’s not so easy? I’m stubborn.
This past month has been a rough one for me. (Heck, this past year has been pretty intense, if I’m being totally honest and transparent.) But this past month has been pretty bad. I am so incredibly thankful that I have God. And beyond having God? I have some amazing godly women in my life who have embraced me, prayed with me, and helped me to move beyond my stubborn nature.
Which is what I’m here to talk to you about. Kind of.
I hate cliches. I try so hard to avoid them. But they just pop up. (And here is where I take a moment to thank my friends for not once telling me to “give it to God” during my rough time.)
“Give it to God” for a stubborn individual like myself? That doesn’t really seem possible. Sure, I want to. But is it even possible? Wouldn’t be nice if we could just say “Dear God, I got a bill in the mail today, one I don’t know how I’m going to pay. And I’m not really sure how I’ll buy groceries this month. And my Aunt has Cancer, please make it go away. My dad lost his job. My dog is sick. My kid isn’t doing well in school. I am depressed.” and then? After giving him our laundry list of needs he’d just work it out? And we could go about life blissfully oblivious to all of our problems.
Well. We sort of can. Minus the whole blissfully oblivious thing. And he doesn’t just “work it out” we have to put in leg work, and we have to put ourselves out there. Chances are? If i can’t afford groceries, God will provide somehow. But he’s not going to let me just sit on my couch watching Hallmark Christmas movies and let some magic grocery fairy ring my doorbell! I have to work for it, and that’s what he’ll provide. Maybe it’ll be a friend who needs a day worth of work and will pay me that exact amount to put food on the table. Maybe an unexpected refund check. But we can’t just ignore the problem. That’s not what it means to give it to him. (I use the grocery example because a Facebook post about God providing groceries has been popping up on my feed this morning – but it really could be any need, big or small.)
My problem has never been the leg work. And it’s never been the asking in prayer. It’s been surrendering to God. See, aside from being stubborn? I suffer from anxiety. If I have a problem? It consumes me. It’s all I can think on, it’ll stop me from eating and sleeping. It makes me no fun to be around. I can’t concentrate. I just can’t.
So “give it to God” doesn’t really work for me. Or at least I didn’t think it would.
Two weeks ago? I played an intense game of Tug-of-War with God. I would wake up and hit my knees praying. I spent a good 30 minutes with God, talking. Crying. Occasionally yelling. I would give him my problem, ask him to take it. (Beg him to take it.) Then I would wake up, sometimes enjoying a few moments of peace and joy, but by the time I made it to the kitchen for my coffee? I’d have taken my problem back.
Sure, I prayed throughout the day. Each time saying “Father, take this from me!” But I always took it back.
I did an elaborate visual exercise. I imagined myself sitting at the foot of His throne, handing him a box with my problem in it. He took it, and gave me a hug and told me he had it. That he was fighting for me. It was an amazing and intense experience.
Then I stood up and walked away. (And I sneaked back in and grabbed that box back.)
Here’s the thing. God wants to fight for us. (He already has. He’s won that battle.) But we tend to not let him. So during my journey? I picked up a few tips to help me stop playing Tug-Of-War and just let God have my problem. I wanted to share this with you all, because I so often find that I need an instruction manual for the simple stuff!
Once you’ve prayed and given your problem to God? LEAVE IT WITH HIM!!
But how the heck do I do that? The problem isn’t gone, and I still need to fix it! This is easily the most simple and difficult thing I have ever done.
When the problem sneaks back up – and it will – examine it against scripture. With my specific problem, I had taken a notebook (one that I carry everywhere) and written about a dozen key verses that applied to it. Each time it would nag me, I’d grab my notebook and recite an appropriate scripture. If I couldn’t find one? I just repeated Exodus 14:14. “The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.” (On one occasion? I’m sure I just repeated it for about 20 minutes. But my anxiety passed, and I was able to move on!
Fill your time with steps to fix the problem. The grocery example? If you’ve got a few minutes? Start looking for more work. Clean your closet and find some long forgotten item you can sell. These things occupy your mind, but they also take action steps towards reaching your goal.
SCRIPTURE (differently) ::
Once I’ve prayed, repeated scripture and done some leg work? My mind tends to continue to bring up the problem. I found that when I was hip-deep in my trial? Scripture was my saving grace. I listened to the bible on my phone as I went about my chores. (I never realized how much creeping up on my the enemy can do while I’m doing dishes! But not while I have the Word being fed into my headphones!) While sitting on the couch attempting to watch TV with my husband? I couldn’t focus – so I’d grab my bible. I just submersed myself in scripture – and the calming effect that has? It’s nothing short of amazing.
Here’s the thing. We all have trials. Some little. Some big. But they consume us all, and we all have to remember that “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8) So stop playing Tug-Of-War with him! He can’t move in your life to help fix your problems until you fully release them to him and start to move forward yourself.