Last week I was peeling potatoes at my kitchen sink. I was trying to peel one of those bumpy potatoes that are just plain difficult to peel. I looked at the potato in my hand and thought, “all potatoes should be round and smooth.” Whoa. I caught myself. Did I really just think that?
That could easily sum up my ideal life. Smooth. Plain sailing. Everything perfect, organised and running according to plan. Who’s plan? Mine, of course!
Thankfully, and often painfully, I’ve learnt that life isn’t like that. It has a habit of not going according to my plan. I’ve found that control is an illusion, and I have far less control than I think or would like.
Here are a three things I have learnt.
1. NOT EVERY ONE IS A LIST-MAKER
Sometimes I find this hard to grasp, but I have discovered that not everyone likes routine and structure. In fact, many people manage to survive life quite successfully and productively without making lists. If I am planning something, I usually begin way in advance of the event, thinking it through, making mental and paper lists. However, I have great friends who are last minute people. I struggled to understand until a few years ago I spoke with a friend studying art at university. She explained that she is at her most creative under the pressure of a
deadline. Wow! While a deadline and pressure dries up my creativity, it actually inspires hers. It makes sense – God creates us differently, with different strengths and gifts. I’m grateful for my last minute friends, and appreciate our differences.
2. MY TO-DO LIST IS A TOOL, NOT A GUIDE
I love my to-do lists. I love crossing things off them, and the satisfaction of looking at a completed list. (Yes, writing this blog is actually on two lists – my task list and my today list). More times than I’m prepared to admit, I will add jobs I’ve done to my list after I’ve completed them, just for the satisfaction of crossing them off and looking at the completed list. I accept and embrace that this is the way God created me, and I happily love my lists. However, I’ve learnt that people are more important than my lists. Life will go on tomorrow if I don’t cross everything off. My list is not a guide to my day, but simply an organisational tool. Most tasks can wait a day or two, but sometimes people can’t. My children might need me to leave a job on my list to spend time with them. It may be a wiser choice to stop what I’m doing to listen and engage in a conversation or phone call. I can complete the list tomorrow, but tomorrow I might not be able to recreate the opportunity to have an important discussion. I’m learning to submit my to-do lists to God, to surrender my agenda, and ask him to guide me through the day and give me wisdom in the choices I make.
3. I’M NOT IN CONTROL – BUT I KNOW THE ONE WHO IS
I like to think I’m in control. But life has taught me that there is very little I actually control. I can’t control others, their reactions or actions. Not even my children (although I really wish I could!!). I can’t control life and the curved balls it occasionally throws at me. Most days, if I’m truly honest, I struggle to control myself. I say things I don’t mean to say. I act impatiently. I think things I shouldn’t. Lack of control used to scare me, and it still does sometimes. But my great comfort is that I know someone who is in control. My Heavenly Father. Nothing takes him by surprise or throws him off balance. He knows the beginning from the end, the number of stars in the galaxies and, more personally, the number of hairs on my head. He knows everything that will happen to me today. And tomorrow. And next week. My God is in control, and He loves me. His plans are always far better than mine. I may not always like or understand His plans, but they are always good.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11
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