June 12, 2008

Flying Staplers (formerly: You get what you ask for...)

I was struck moments ago, by a flying stapler....just kidding, I was really struck by a realization I had about how God works in all kinds of ways and it felt like I was struck with a flying stapler. In fact, that's what I think I will call those moments, flying staplers. Awesome. I'm changing the title.

About two or three years ago, I asked God to break down the barriers that I build, the walls that keep people away, my beloved defense mechanisms. Well, true to His word, He fulfills promises and has been whittling away. Lately, though, I feel like those changes are coming faster and more impactful, at times literally leaving me breathless as they are realized. I even have moments of panic when I look to the future to wonder why now, what will this mean? I am horrified to actually put this on paper, because it's so embarassing and it seems so single minded, but only one person reads this blog anyway (thanks girlymama) so I guess it's ok. Typically I am viewing this in the frame of meeting my husband. Awful, isn't it? For a girl who is very hardcore about protecting and guarding women's hearts, thinking in that light does me in for a panic attack every time! My first thought lately has been, "Oh, but wait, it's too soon, I know I said I wanted to get married, but oh my, do I really, I don't knowohmygoshwhatamigoingtodowithall..." and the pathology continues from there until I am worked up in a ridiculous frenzy and remember to look down at my feet and remember I am still planted firmly where God wants me and not a moment too soon will I get to wherever He is taking me. Insert deep breath here.

Once I come back to the present moment, where God and I are both in the same space and time, I remember that I asked for this. And I take a look around. For example, I lead a college ministry at my church and I have a student that I've known since she was in high school. She recently wrote a letter and it struck me as very open, vulnerable, etc. This is kind of unusual for her, or at least the real life her (I've noticed that internet-her is a little different-both are wonderful people) and I really felt like God was leading me to respond in some way and so I prayed about it. I gave her some encouragement and shared a little bit about God changing me and in doing so was hit by a flying stapler! I realized, God impacted me and communicated with me while I was writing back to this girl, who felt prompted to write this letter for whatever reason. He uses chain of events like that all the time, and I'm absolutely tickled by them.

I am a control freak. I've known this for quite a bit of time, and thought that I had it under control (HA!) to the point where I would only be that way in certain situations that I decided were alright. I viewed it as sort of micromanaging. In some situations, I need to do it. In others, not so much. But in my development of defense mechanisms and wall building, I'm trying to control zillions of things: others' view of me, my level of vulnerability with them, how much they know about the real me, how much I let God into the situation/relationship, etc. I even did it earlier in this post, trying to decide how much to put out there for ONE PERSON to read. Who, in all honesty, lives many states away, who I haven't seen since a random trip to a city near her, and is such a loving person that she probably wouldn't care what mess I put out there and even already knows some mess because she discipled me in college. Now THAT is a control freak for you.

Once I'm hit by a stapler, I can quickly get overwhelmed because I like to look at things from various angles. First, my own: why do I do that? Second, others' view: if I were them, or if I were me and someone did that in my direction, what would I think about them, how would I react in the others' shoes, etc. Third, from God's view: what does He say about that behavior/action (usually, stop it) or what does He say about the opposite of that behavior (controlling: His will, His time). Lastly, the impact: what situations does that behavior play out in and what kind of impact does that have on that situation/relationship. It can get deep and believe me, quite widespread.

One example of how that control thing played out today in the impact survey is in light of the college bible study that I run. I have been persevering on the numbers of folks that show up. I have about 30 people on my active mailing list. They got there because they were in the high school group, or signed up to be on the mailing list. They are dedicated people. They love Jesus, or know something about Him, they come to church, etc. The first week, two people. The second week, one. Nevermind that I had gotten a zillion e-mails that folks were out of town, would be there next week, had other committments. Nope, I freaked out that my bible study was not going the way I thought it should and what was God doing putting this group on my heart to create and then letting me feel like a failure? Ok, where do I BEGIN with all the wrong things in that sentence? If I let the numbers thing get in the way, I'm getting in God's way. I need to prayerfully follow His guidance of what to do each week, each moment, each e-mail, each conversation with these students, these friends, and don't worry about anything else. Last week, God sent one person. Awesome! A NEW person. And I felt a little ridiculous leading the bible study with one person, but it was still good. And hopefully she'll come back. But if she doesn't, that's ok, because I walked in His will.

A brief note before I wrap up: this is the first bible study I've ever led and I was scared out of my mind. Half hoping no one would show up so I wouldn't have to do it, half hoping someone would show up so it wouldn't be a failure for that week. That's a hard spot to be in, halfway between two desires :) So as I was half rejoicing that I wouldn't have to lead the bible study because no one was there, and praying to the Lord, "God, is it really Your will that no one is here, how can that be?" this girl walked through the door. Talk about a blatant answer. I loved it.

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