I know that I am supposed to use my own mind and judgment to act. To make decisions. To live.
I also know that I have nothing, that I am weak, that I am nothing without the Lord. In every moment I need His help, for He is the only source of good and truth. None of it comes from me.
It’s a paradox. Two seemingly different things that somehow can both be true at the same time. In fact, the combination of these two things, played out daily in a balanced and practiced way, seem to me to make up the crux of our spiritual lives. Resolving this paradox is the key to our freedom and spiritual transformation. The Lord values our freedom to an extreme degree, and I think it is because He knows that we will be truly happy and have the greatest joy when we choose to accept His life with our whole selves. I guess in order for there to be variety, interest, and purpose in this life, we need variety in humans – variety in our talents and characteristics – so the more we are willing to BE ourselves and use our own unique qualities to serve the Lord, the more useful, perfect, and happy angels we can be.
But, the balance point is quite trying to me. I often feel perplexed by it, baffled by it, confused about which way to go.
“Let go and let God.”
“Just do it!”
Wait for an answer to come
Figure it out!
I often 1. let the Lord do it and sit around waiting in a puddle, or 2. do it myself and end up in a puddle. Neither of these lead to a strong and powerful feeling of happiness and success.
Let me illustrate. I often wake up in the mornings and ask the Lord to direct my day. I try to give up my will and hand it over to the Lord.
The day starts.
I am flooded with decisions.
Should I shower while the baby screams or skip the shower and read to the kids on the couch? Should I cook myself a healthy breakfast or pour some cereal into a bowl so our going-out-the-door routine is less stressful? Should I take a chunk of the day to exercise while the kids entertain themselves or pay more attention to them? Which thing is strengthening me to be more able to serve my family, and which one is selfish? But the questions aren’t all about getting my needs and wants fulfilled. Should I talk on the phone to a friend in need or fit in the hour of homeschooling that I had planned? Should we move to another country or stay in area where we are? Should we continue to have more children or stop where we are? I don’t know the answers and the Lord doesn’t seem to be telling me.
If you are noticing the tragic flaw in the above paragraph, then that is good. I used the word “SHOULD” a lot. I am apt to think this way. I want to know the answer. I want to know I am doing it right. I don’t want to be wrong. I don’t want to be bad.
But then I remember that there is not necessarily a “right” and a “wrong” to these decisions.
“Ok fine Lord,” I barter. “If you want me to use my own mind and capabilities, I will do what seems best to me.”
So I stop stressing about the right answer. I dig into using my own brain and I go. I get tons done. I usually choose to do everything on my list. I use my self will to muscle my way through the day. I exert too much energy, I try to get too much done, I exhaust myself trying to orchestrate everything to turn out in my favor and in everybody else’s. Then I am disappointed and annoyed. I pick up my line to the Lord again.
“This isn’t working. I did my best today but I’m not happy. I’m wound up, scared, lonely, intimidated, and unfulfilled. Can you help me?” I’m still feeling frustrated and a little angry. I wasn’t hearing the answer from the Lord at the beginning of the day and I felt kind of abandoned, so I did it myself, but I didn’t like the results of that.
I try again. “Lord, will You somehow teach me to make decisions from a higher place? I know that I really need You.”
I’m not frustrated now. I have an insight that my two options of 1. the Lord telling me answers through a feeling or an inspired thought and 2. doing it on my own, may not be the only two ways to go. I think there is another version in which the Lord is there and leading me really closely, in a way that supersedes my consciousness, but is real none-the-less.
I start to relax. I now have an internal sense of faith. I carry the Lord in my heart through the remainder of the day. I still don’t know what the answers are, but I am thinking about the Lord being with me. My belief and faith help me act from a balanced and rational place. I notice that there are many valid ways the decisions could play out and it doesn’t really matter too much which way they go. Because when I am holding the Lord in my mind and heart, I can shower while loving the kids, or read to the kids while validating that my own needs are important.
I have resolved the paradox for the day, but I know that it will continue to come up time and time again as I wrestle with how much of myself to pour into life, and how much to stand back and let the Lord act. He needs me to take actions, make decisions, and live, but I need Him to be there and guide me in some way, whether or not it feels direct and tangible, in order to be happy and grow closer to Him.
Further Question: Which statement is true? The more you let go, the more the Lord will direct you. The more you use your abilities to act from yourself, the more the Lord will direct you.