repeat life lessons

There is something really disconcerting about being thrown into a world in which you have no control.

For example…
You have no control over whether or not it is going to snow, rain or precipitate in any way, shape, or form at any time of the day. Therefore, inevitably you often wear a completely inappropriate coat or shoes for the climate and events get cancelled at the last minute. Sometimes you have no control over whether you get a parking ticket or not, because you couldn’t read the sign that was in German. You play several games of  “how late can I leave work and still get a parking spot that isn’t 5k away from my apartment?”

You have no control over whether people in the states write you back. You’re tempted to feel like you miss them more than they miss you. You don’t know what they’re up to. You don’t know their thoughts or feelings on a daily basis anymore. You’re not included in all of their decisions. Your influence in their life slowly wanes, but there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. You’re frustrated with your own inability to keep up with so many people. You pray that money will come in this month so that you can continue to get paid and eat/be warm/sleep/do ministry/stay here/live.

You bust your ankle, your first major injury, and full recovery is so slow that you’re barely running 3 miles without being forced to stop, no matter how far the rest of your body wants to and is able to run. Yet you somehow signed up for a half marathon this year and that ankle is going to have to make huge strides (get it) before then or it’s done for.

You can’t control what times Germans decide to open and close their stores, so sometimes you spend a whole tank of gas getting there only to find out you can’t even get inside. You use the iTranslate app to make sure it’s the right store, and even iTranslate misleads you. The army is boss. You don’t dictate how long people stay with you. They could leave in a month’s notice. Poof, they’re gone, even if you liked them a lot. You can come up with what you think is a visionary idea for youth ministry only to have it shot down by contracts, chaplains, protocol, red tape, policies, travel issues, etc. etc. etc. You live in a foreign country, and despite your best efforts, sometimes even your entire 5-word polished vocabulary of German gets misunderstood. Sometimes they don’t speak English. You can’t make them instantly speak your language or understand what your flailing arms mean in sign language. Wait, I can’t? Sometimes, the commissary is COMPLETELY OUT OF NORMAL OREOS FOR MONTHS. FOR NO REASON. I am not in control of even whether I buy oreos or not!

Someone complains to you that everyone has forgotten their birthday and you want to retort, at least you have the option of being with “everyone” on that day. I don’t know if I’ll spend any of my next 3-to-whenever birthdays with any family at all. I do youth ministry. I want them to love Jesus and sometimes they don’t. I want them to walk two steps to the left and sometimes they don’t. The Enemy comes up with some really creative, outside-the-box ministry challenges that would get Mother Teresa flustered. I am not  in control at 1700 if I am outside on post. I have to stop what I am doing, get out of my car, face the flag and listen to the retreat. Two minutes of being totally out of control.

But is it really only two minutes?

Are we really ever in control of our lives? At any moment? Then why do we keep thinking we are? Why do so many of us have a Messiah complex? How do we even survive with one? I want to save everyone, help everyone, do everything, forget the word “no,” be everything to everyone, be perfectly organized, clean, godly, and put together. I continually shake my fists at God when something does not go the way I thought it should, or the way I thought HE should run it. Hey God, I totally see myself doing this for you. Won’t it be great? Won’t I be doing awesome things for you? Just as long as it goes like this. As long as You hand this over to me, we’re good. I got it.

The problem is that’s when God can’t take it anymore and interrupts the flow of our conversation.

Hm. Let’s turn that around, shall we? I’m pretty sure you were never in control in the first place. I have a grand suggestion (sometimes I like to imagine that God has a sarcastic sense of humor like me, but something tells me probably not): How about YOU hand this over to ME. Doesn’t it sound better that way? Give your burdens to ME. I want them. I really do. You are breaking your back carrying that crap around. Here, right now, do it.

For someone whose had a Messiah complex all her life, that kind of conversation meets a lot of resistance. And it’s here, in the push-and-pull of that resistance that has intensified by moving here, that I learn, once again, that I am not in control. Not only that, but He is worthy of carrying what I give to Him. The One who is worthy will never let the righteous fall. The Shepherd that will leave 99 of His precious sheep to save the one lost one is worthy. He’s worthy to find the lost kid that I care about but my short arms can’t reach, my lost hopes, my disappointments, my crumpled plans, my faraway friends. My identity is not in the ministry that I do here in Bamberg, no matter how much time I spent raising money or putting time and love into it, no matter how many mistakes I make, and my identity is not in the way the people that I love respond to me or I to them, no matter how much I try, no matter how many times I mistakenly think I deserve something from them. It is in having a relationship with the One who counts me as precious, even when lost and confused with a broken back from the world’s burdens and heartbreaks. And I don’t know about you but that is Someone I can rest comfortably and securely in.

It’s the sweetest thing
To trust you
Just to know
You got everything under control

It’s the sweetest thing
To trust you
Just to know
You got everything

And You are making me a mountain
Making me a mountain
That cannot be shaken

Well You are making me a mountain
Making me a mountain
That cannot be moved

High up on a rock
Looking out at the horizon
Watching as the storm rolls in
Wondering if my heart will survive it

As the waves crash all around me
And can’t remember what it feels like to be free

I know You’re making me a mountain
Making me a mountain
That cannot be shaken

Oh You are making me a mountain
Making me a mountain
That cannot be moved

You say, I’ve got you my baby
I’ve got you
It’s quite the mess you’re in
But it’s nothing Love can’t fix

So sit here upon my shoulders
And watch as it all unwinds

-Kristene Mueller – Trust

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2 thoughts on “repeat life lessons

  1. yes to all of this….start to finish…feel like I’ve just read Psalm 151…”A Psalm of Laura”. you land in the same spot David always did…”you are God and i am not and that’s a really good thing but it’s also a really good thing i can write my heart out to you”. i think i’ve said/written most of these same words – only the names have been changed. lots of love from the blue recliner!

  2. love this post! thanks for your authenticity, honesty and vulnerability. it’s beautiful and i so appreciate it and you! looking forward to seeing you over there!

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