Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Trusting God or Another Bad Move?

All my life I’ve been stuck halfway between faith and doubt.  When others talk about trust in God, what does that mean?  Do I passively wait for my Destiny to arrive?  How will I recognize Destiny vs. My Own Stupidity? 

Rick has been trying to trust God more--especially regarding money.  Now God is graciously giving us many opportunities to practice that trust.  Financially, we feel like Job--every day brings a new savings account hemorrhage.  Car needs new brakes (3K), our insurance didn’t fully cover Rick’s colonoscopy (1K), little Sophie needed 8 teeth pulled by vet (3K), and last week’s big item-- sewer pipe busted ($12K).  Rick is convinced that God is “testing us.”  Do we pass when the bank account is empty? 

Meanwhile, my freelance gigs have dried up.  Does “trusting in God” mean looking for other work or should I enjoy this time and write?  The question is moot to me—I can’t wait without feeling like a big irresponsible jerk.  I’ve been actively seeking other work.  But questions of “trusting God vs. being responsible” never end.  Should I just take whatever job that I can get?  (I’m getting too old for that!)  We still have some savings so I can wait and “trust.”  But is that simply laziness?  Or is waiting more responsible than grabbing the wrong job—one I’ll want to immediately jettison?    As expenses increase and time passes I feel the pressure of “just taking anything.” 

Ironically, waiting for good things (is that what trusting God means?) feels immoral.  I’ve never been able to do it.  When I produced theatre, I’d get frantic over late props or costumes.  Others would trust that “everything will work out.”   I judged them as simply having low standards.  Even though I believe in God and try to live with a spiritual focus, I couldn’t (wouldn’t?) “trust” God to help me with costuming.  God isn’t following me like some assistant, taking notes of all the things I need and promising to deliver—often at the last, dramatic moment-- when all seems lost. 

I don’t want to depend on God to bail me out if I don’t manage my projects well.

On the other hand, I’ve too often aborted jobs and projects when I encountered colossal barriers.  When problems came, I felt overwhelmed and confused.  I didn’t know that obstacles always come—especially when we’re creative.  Mythically, they’re the ferocious gatekeepers we must overcome on the way to our dreams.  Why must they block our way?  Because--as we overcome the dragon or evil stepmother, we discover our strength and power.  Without the obstacle, the hero is still undeveloped.  Seen this way, I understand the great gift of my impediments — the nitpicking bureaucrat, or the lazy costume designer forces me to learn leadership. 
Last year we put our home on the market.  Our plan was simple—reduce our mortgage.  My fantasy was to move somewhere cheaper so I could pursue my dreams.  I wouldn’t have the struggle between being responsible and following an inner calling.  But, in the dismal market, our house sat--ignored.  In the past I might have pushed my agenda, lowering and lowering the price.  But this time, I tried to watch the flow of Life.  Instead of forcing my will, I surrendered to the frustrating reality:  we couldn’t sell at a reasonable price.   Since we could still afford our mortgage we decided to accept the unknown.  We “un-staged” the house and reclaimed our space.  

Months later, I saw the blessing in our failure.  If we had sold and bought a cheaper home, it would have been much smaller, and in poorer condition.  We would have found more financial freedom, but Rick would have hated the tradeoff.  How much money and time would we have spent, trying to improve the space?   Would we, unhappy again, want to move—continuing our dysfunctional cycle of impulsiveness?  By trusting in God (not forcing my own will), we may have avoided more pain. 

I believe in a Higher Power that is somehow involved in my life. I’ve learned that it is far wiser to go with Life’s flow (Destiny, God’s Plan?) than to fight for my own agenda.  I’ve seen the difference.  Sometimes opportunities move rapidly toward me, and sometimes a relentless parade of barriers block my path.  Being responsible is learning to respond (be response-able) to Life’s changing circumstances, moment by moment. 

Instead of letting my emotions dictate my actions, I’ll become aware of them.  I’ll uncover my deepest fears (“What if I don’t get what I want?  How will I handle that?” or “What if I screw up again?  What will everyone think?”).  I trust in God to help me tolerate these feelings and move through them.  Then, when watching our bank account dwindle, I can admit these fears to myself and to God.  “I’m afraid regarding money.  I don’t want to be irresponsible but I want a vocation that is meaningful.  What should I do?”  Then I can listen and wait.  In the quicksand of strong emotions and distorted thinking, I’ll need to discern what is true.  At this time, in this place, what is the responsible action?  What have my past mistakes taught me about my reactions now?  My mistakes are my greatest teacher, helping me recognize my faulty thinking.   With practice I’m learning how to balance between waiting on Grace and taking responsibility for my life.  It is a high wire act. 

© 2011 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved No more to read on this post. Even though Blogger says

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