It’s 4-something in the morning as I’m sitting down to write this. That’s my normal time these days to be out of bed, sitting in my living room, talking to God and reading my Bible.
Not that I wouldn’t LOVE to be in my bed right now, but like everything else lately, nothing is going according to my own plans, especially not my plan to get a decent night’s sleep like a normal, healthy person.
There’s lots of anxiety in these wee hours lately. I wake up with my heart beating out of my chest, barely able to breathe, and definitely unable to sleep. It’s not insomnia, really; this is something different. It’s free-falling, out into nothing.
And that’s not my choice. I never liked free-falling. Never wanted to free-fall like Don Draper in the opening of Mad Men. But here I am, every morning, waking up in a free-fall, unable to sleep, unable to breathe, trying desperately to make some sense of this and finding my only peace and strength here in my living room in God’s Word.
If the adult years of my life were written out in a timeline, it would look an awful lot like this:
- 1996 – graduate from college; embark upon Plan A.
- 1998 – Can’t have Plan A; let’s go with Plan B. Plan B will be fine.
- 1999 – Plan B is terribly disappointing. Resign myself to coping with Plan B the best I can.
- 2000 – 2010 – chaos, pain, disaster, turmoil as Plan B spirals down the drain.
- 2011 – OK. Let’s try Plan C. Plan C will be amazing.
- 2012 – 2015 – torment, misery, futility, because I was never meant to be a Plan C girl.
- 2016 – Plan C crumbles around my ankles in spite of my best efforts.
And none of it is what I would have predicted, planned, or chosen.
This is not what my life is supposed to look like.
I am not supposed to be here.
And finally, after months and months of free-falling out into nothing, and wrestling with God about it, and crying, and reminding God of ALL THE THINGS I TRIED, AND ALL THAT I WANTED AND PRAYED AND PLANNED FOR AND TRIED MY BEST TO CAREFULLY BUILD, and begging God for a different outcome, I think I understand.
Maybe, a little.
All this time, I’ve tried to grasp for control of a life I never had control of.
All this time, I’ve been driving along in the car that is my life, white knuckles gripping the steering wheel as I try with all the strength in my arms to steer this car in the direction it’s supposed to be going, and it’s not turning. I throw myself into it, and there’s no power steering fluid in this car… it. won’t. turn. Ugh.
Today, I woke up and realized… I was never actually driving the car.
I just looked around me, and this steering wheel I’m grasping… isn’t attached to anything. This really pretty car I designed for myself, in my imagination… isn’t even a real car.
It’s like the big fake truck at the playground made out of pipes and boards, that Susie loves to pretend to drive. She spins the steering wheel wildly, not really realizing that she’s not really making that thing go in any direction. It doesn’t matter how tightly she grips the wheel, or how fast she spins it… she’s hardly the master of where the road takes her in that fake truck.
I just had this conversation with God in my head:
Me: God, this isn’t what I wanted. I did everything that I knew to do to NOT BE HERE, and here we are.
God: I know. But you’re not the one in charge of this.
Me: But I AM in charge of it, and I ruined it. I failed at Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C.
God: Those were never my plans for you.
Me: But my kids, God. This isn’t what’s best for my kids. All the experts agree.
God: Don’t you think I know what’s best for your kids?
Me: OK, then. I’m ready for Plan D, and here’s how YOU, God, can help me with that…
God: You’re not really the one who gets to write The Plan, in case you hadn’t figured that out yet.
Me: Oh, but yes I am, because I’m the one holding the steering wheel…
God: That’s not even a real steering wheel.
I’m so fortunate to be surrounded by amazing, Godly people. My cousin Wendy is one of my favorites, and because she knows all too well what it’s like to have her plans for her life tossed out the window by a big God who had a better plan, God put her in my life right at the perfect moment to coach me through this.
Wendy is Clayton‘s mama. She knows.
“You didn’t choose this,” she said. “You aren’t the one who lied, committed adultery, shattered your kids’ whole world. You would not have done that.”
“Yeah, you’re right about that,” I answered.
“So… don’t you think God has some purpose in this for you? AND FOR YOUR KIDS?”
She went on to tell me how when Clayton got sick, she had to be honest with him. Her mama heart wanted to shield him from it, to protect him from the pain and the fear of the unknown, but she believed that God had a purpose for their lives. She knew God would use all the parts of the story, even the excruciatingly painful ones, to write an amazing story, one in which God is glorified and HIS Kingdom multiplies.
Wendy had to give Clayton to God, to trust that He knew what He was doing with Clayton’s life.
As much as I don’t want this to be my story, and I want to shield my own kids from the painful parts, God is using every bit of this to mold me, and them, into a story in which He will be glorified.
So, even after all the sleepless nights, the hours I’ve spent searching for answers, praying, begging God for a different outcome, and grasping for a Plan, I don’t know much, but these few truths:
- God is the Author.
- God is using every bit of the situation we’re in, this situation that we did not choose for ourselves, to write an amazing story.
- He’s going to use even the painful parts that LOOK like complete disaster, to make my kids and me into people who look a lot more like Jesus.
- All I have to be is me. I don’t have to try to plan, or mold my own life into what I think it should look like. I was never the author of this to begin with. I just have to use what God has given me, and be the person God designed me to be.
There’s a lot of peace in knowing that, if I’ll just let myself believe it.
It’s all Yours, God. All this mess. I can’t fix it. Please just use it…