I used to think I was someone who didn’t have control issues. That is… until the pandemic spread across the globe.
I’ve heard stories of people who don’t like riding in planes because they would rather be the pilot flying the plane than be the passenger. If you would have asked me a couple of years ago if I had control issues like that, I would have said, “Nope. Definitely not.”
And then COVID-19 hit. If you were anything like me, you thought 2020 was going to be the year. Maybe you had a special vacation or trip planned, maybe you were graduating from highschool or college. Or maybe you just thought 2020 was going to be the year because it sounded cool, right?
On December 31, 2019, I found out I was officially accepted into a training school in Australia with a missions organization called YWAM. This training school would help get me ready to be a full-time missionary in Africa. I was ecstatic. I was excited because my childhood dreams of being a missionary were finally starting to happen, and I was expectant to see what God was going to do and how He was going to move. The plan was to start training in the fall of 2020, and then head to Africa in the beginning of 2021.
But those plans, like many of yours, came to a halt when the pandemic got worse.
Borders and countries began shutting down, flights were being reduced, and no one was allowed to go anywhere. That’s when I got an email from the school leaders saying that they were no longer running the school in person, but that it was getting moved to online.
I was heartbroken. I had been wanting to do this school for two years, I had been counting down the days until I would be back in Australia, and on top of that, I had no idea when I would get to go to Africa.
All of a sudden, things were happening that I had no control over.
I panicked. I was angry, confused and anxious. I scrambled, trying to figure what to do now, and what these next few months would be like, now that all of my plans were gone. I realized I was no longer in control (but I never really was) and this year was not going the way I had planned.
But way down deep, I knew there was more. Even though everything around me was out of control and there was nothing I could do, I felt at peace because I knew Who was in control.
Through this weird and strange season of the pandemic, God has been walking me through a process of truly releasing control and trusting Him, and I wanted to share some things I’m learning with you.
1: Get Into His Presence
It was 7 a.m. when I got the news about my training getting moved to online. What was the first thing I did after I got the news (after telling my parents, of course)? I went outside to my spot where I do my quiet time every morning. I got in His presence. I turned on worship music and prayed.
I worshipped Him and thanked Him that He was in control and that He knew what He was doing. I told Him that I trusted Him, and that I didn’t want to walk through this process alone or on my own strength.
There was a part of me that didn’t want to be there, that wanted to fight. Part of me wanted to harden my heart against Him, to ask Him why, and what was wrong with the original plans?
Right then and there, spending time in His Presence may not have been what I selfishly would have wanted to do. But in order to be comforted, given peace, and get God’s perspective, I had to go to Him before I did anything else.
2: Be Honest With Him
I’m not going to lie, when I got into God’s presence, I did ask Him questions. I wondered what the heck He was doing, and why my dreams had to be taken away. I told Him I was angry, confused, sad and stressed.
And it was scary. I wanted to be seen as the “strong Christian.” You know, the one that is always joyful and is never sad, and always trusts God no matter what happens. But that’s not what God wanted from me.
God is a very personal and relational God. We were created not because He needed us, but because He wanted us. He wanted to have people made in His image, to do His work, to have a relationship with. Just like it is with any other relationship, God’s heart is to be involved in every aspect of our lives; the good, the bad and the ugly.Just like it is with any other relationship, God’s heart is to be involved in every aspect of our lives; the good, the bad and the ugly. Click To Tweet
I don’t run to Him when I’m sad, angry and disappointed just to get something from Him to ease the pain. I go to Him because I have a relationship with Him and I love Him. I run to Him because He loves me and knows what is going on in my head and my heart. I run to Him because He is my Father and I will find an abundance of grace.
As our Father and Creator, He is the only one who completely understands my heart, my dreams and why I was sad and disappointed. Until we are completely honest with where we are at and stop hiding, that is when He can begin to bring healing and comfort, and it allows Him to work in our hearts.
It’s okay to have emotions and to feel them. It’s okay to feel sad when your dreams get crushed or when plans change. It’s okay to be honest with God with where you’re at, but it’s important that we don’t stay there.
A few days ago, I saw a quote from Christine Caine, and I believe it is goes so well with this topic of control:
“Disappointment is a place we pass through, not a place we stay.”
As much as a grieving process is needed, it is important that you don’t stay there. The next step is to surrender to His will. As followers of Christ, we are not living our own lives or for ourselves, but rather it is Christ living in and through us. As Christians we have to be okay with saying “let Your will be done, Father, not mine,” otherwise God is not truly Lord of our lives.
Without surrender it is impossible to see the good and what God is doing when the plans change or something unexpected happens. Without surrender, we are stuck on an anxious rollercoaster, trying to figure everything out and fight for control.
But when we surrender, there is peace. You don’t have to fight for control, because you truly know that God is in control.
I’m going to be honest with you, The process of surrendering was not an easy one, or a process that I could complete perfectly in a matter of minutes. It took a few days before I felt like I had truly grieved, was ready to let go and keep going.
Since then, there are still times when the enemy tries to attack by bringing anxiety and thinking that I have to figure it all out. There are still times when I have to remind myself I am not in control. And you know what? That’s okay. I’m not perfect. No one is. This is a process of growing and learning to trust God, and it is okay if it doesn’t happen perfectly.
We serve a good and gracious God, One who is faithful to convict our hearts, show us the truth, and draw us closer to Him.
4: Tell Your People
As I walked through the steps of surrender and letting go, the next thing I did was let my people know. I have an incredible community of friends, mentors and pastors both locally and around the world. They are people I can be honest with and they truly care about me and my walk with Christ.
There were a few people that I texted and just let them know that plans had changed and what was honestly what was going on in my head and heart.
I was truly blessed by my people because they grieved with me and understood why I was sad and disappointed, they knew I had been looking forward to this for a long time. But they also weren’t afraid to encourage me. They encouraged me to keep going, because the Lord has different plans for what that season would look like. They encouraged me to go expectant and prayerfully and to look for the good things and blessings of having my school moved to online.
When you involve your people and are honest with them, they can help give you a different perspective and help you see things you weren’t able to see before.
These past few months have been hectic, filled with things that make us panic and crazy for control.
Maybe your graduation or a trip got cancelled due to coronavirus, maybe the ground beneath you feels shaky as the country works through racial injustices, politics, and everything in between.
In the midst of all of this, there is something I have come to realize: there are a lot of situations around me that I cannot control or change. But there is one thing I can control, and that is my response to these circumstances I can’t change. Will I choose to trust God, knowing that He is faithful, and works out all things for good and for His glory? Or will I be angry at God and just add to the confusion and anxiety in the world?
I want to leave you with a chapter from the Bible, a scripture that is encouraging to my heart in times like this:
“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper, the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” -Psalm 121
God’s got you, my friend. You don’t have to strive to control what’s going on around you. My prayer is that you will rest in that truth today.