I am a big picture type person. When I put together a bookshelf, I take all of the pieces out of the box, glance at the picture to get a general idea of how the finished product should look, and then toss it aside. I try to put the bookshelf together without reading the directions... only consulting them if I get stuck (or put a shelf on upside down and backwards, which happens every single time!). I know that the end result is a bookshelf and I know what a bookshelf looks like. I can get there! It might take a few tries, but I will MAKE the bookshelf! And it will be WONDERFUL and I will take credit for its wonder as if it was the first bookshelf ever built! Conversely, if someone were to give me a pile of materials and a list of instructions without telling me what I was supposed to build I would FREAK OUT. Even if they assured me that if I followed the instructions I would assemble exactly what was supposed to be built my brain can.not.compute. things this way. I have to KNOW what I'm building BEFORE I start building it. Without that big picture I get mired down in the details, I focus on the wrong things because I don't know what the point is-- I don't know what I'm supposed to end up with. After doing some research, I've found out that this means I'm a right-brained person. Now, I didn't do any research to find out if the majority of the world is comprised of right-brained people, but I'm assuming that it isn't... not because I want to be special, but because it is a scary thought-- our world under the control of the jittery flitting-about-from-thing-to-thing minds of the right-brained thinker.
I have been frustrated with the idea of not knowing what is going to happen before it happens for as long as I can remember. Surprises? Forget it! I do not like them. It is something I struggle with in my faith often. I want a tiny sneak peek at the plan that God has for my life. I want Him to just let me see it JUST ONCE so that I can figure out on my own what the big picture looks like and how to get there. But again, that's my problem... "figure out on my own". I doubt God's a big fan of that way of thinking, but I still have a hard time relinquishing control of everything and letting Him be in the driver's seat. I'm sure God thinks it's hilarious that I think I have any form of control at all! But it remains to me very disheartening that I can't peek into the future and see if my life will be wonderful and happy and full of great things 5...10...15 years from now. That I can't know for sure what I'm working towards NOW. In reality, I don't have to look ahead, because I know that God has already promised me that anything I could come up with isn't anywhere NEAR the greatness He has in store for me. That knowledge doesn't stop the little voice in my head from it's spastic fit-throwing. My little voice almost always resembles a sleep-starved child falling out on the floor screaming about how unfair life is...
buuuuuuuuuut DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I WANNNTTT TOOOO KNOWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
WHAT IF I GUESS IT?!?!?! WILL YOU TELL ME THEN!?
tellmetellmetellme tellllll meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! pleasssseeeeee!
(if you're picturing the "RICKRICKRICK" skit from SNL, you've pretty much got the right idea.)
And most likely, God has already been TRYING to tell me, but I won't shut my mouth long enough to listen to Him.
People tell me that God is talking to them. Telling them what to do with their lives, showing them signs, and my response is something akin to, "well He hasn't been talking to ME!" In fact, I've said quite a few times in the past months that God isn't talking to me. I have said it to my mom, I have said it to my sister, I have said it to my friends. Each one has told me that I need to listen better. I've had anxiety attacks over what my "purpose" is... but again, I get caught up in trying to figure it out on my own... which let's face it, rarely works out. As I mentioned before, I recently read "Cure for the Common Life" by Max Lucado and was not only wildly impressed by the book but I was surprised at what I found out about myself. Part of the book asks you to write out 4-6 times in your life when you felt like you did something that made you feel happy and fulfilled. Four out of my six had to do with being part of a church community. When I have thought on what I enjoy doing before I have always come up with three things: Writing, Teaching, and Learning. These three things were present in each of the six things that I listed, but there was SO.MUCH.MORE. that I hadn't considered. I figured out that being in fellowship with others makes me fulfilled, being connected to a group, actively doing mission work - whether through song or physically building things, HELPING people, ministering to people... these things make me feel fantastic... and they are all things that I've been trying to live my life without.
Essentially I have been approaching my life like I put together bookshelves. I don't bother with the instructions and I end up frustrated surrounded by all of these pieces that I can't make sense of any of... I can't figure out what anything is for or if I even have everything I need to be successful. I don't know where anything GOES because I don't know what I'm trying to build. Every now and then when something doesn't look quite right I stop and read some of the steps and realize that I'm going to have to not only cease all forward progress but backtrack and take everything apart again and build it the right way... and in the past I've only fixed that ONE part I can see for sure is wrong and then carelessly thrown the directions aside again. Because I want to build it MY WAY! (Cause I'm a master carpenter, y'know...)
But I'm getting it all wrong. ALL of it. I'm back to that right-brained place that is stuck in one tiny detail because I don't know what the big picture is. Don't I?
The thing I guess I didn't realize is that God IS the big picture. I've focused on my tiny piece in this big picture and tried to figure out what it's purpose is... I thought that it WAS the thing I was trying to build... and I've missed the entire point. My life isn't MY life... I'm meant to be a small part of something much bigger... not the other way around.
When I wrote the first post of this blog, I was only going to send the link to one of my friends. To the friend who told me that I should try writing it in the first place. I sent her the link and then I thought about posting it on Facebook, but immediately thought it was a bad idea- I thought of all of my friends that don't share my same point-of-view and how it might make them feel uncomfortable. I thought about how putting out such personal information would make ME feel uncomfortable... how people who knew me years and years ago might think that it was all a bunch of bologna because I used to be religious and talk about God but I abandoned it so long ago. I thought that they would think of me as a hypocrite... not because they ever said they thought that about me but because I felt like one every time I saw them. And then I realized that this was the perfect way to hold me accountable for what I say and do. Positive feedback, negative feedback, no feedback... it doesn't really matter- the point is I know that there is an off-chance that someone else is reading along, and that maybe God would have me say something that would bless someone else, that someone else also needed to hear. I also realized that it will be a place where I can go back and look at where I started and where I go from here.
...but I didn't realize that it would be an opportunity for God to talk to me in unexpected ways. Especially so quickly. I talked to a friend about it that lives in Arizona, and I mentioned to her that I struggled with finding a church here in the metroplex because the one that I sometimes go to seems to be very difficult for me to get integrated into and involved in... and within minutes she had connected me with another of her friends who lives practically 10 minutes from me who invited me to visit her church. We had a nice long conversation about the logistics and she was super helpful in answering all of my crazy questions. So on Sunday I'm trying out a new church... it may not be THE church that I end up at, but it's a good start! Thank God for small beginnings!
So I suppose I'll surrender to the ways of the left-brained and focus on God's directions for me and see what He ends up building in the future...
Some scripture I found inspiring:
Psalm 118: 21-24
I will give thanks to You
because You have answered me
and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
This came from the LORD;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Isaiah 30: 18-21
Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!
People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
Proverbs 3: 5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
I know, LORD,
that a man's way of life is not his own;
no one who walks determines his own steps.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.