Life is kind of a crazy thing isn’t it?
I mean, when I really try to slow down and pause, I am blown away at how it all ebbs and flows and ends up just fitting together. One second life is slow, and the next it seems like everything starts to spin and circle around you all at once.
The past few weeks have felt like one of those times when all of a sudden life is just go-go-go. It’s been really fun! And honestly, in the past few seasons of life I’ve truly grown an appreciation for the way life is always unfolding around me in ways I never expected.
What I’ve been realizing as I’ve tried to be more cognisant of the flow of life, is that in the fast and slow; in the waiting and in the happening; in the running and in the resting; in the tough-times and in the vibrantly bright times God is always good.
Some of you may have read my New Year’s intentions post, “Intentional Surrender”. If you didn’t (or if you forgot) I discussed what I wanted to focus on in 2019. I guess one way of looking at it is as what I wanted my overarching theme of 2019 to be. I thought it would be a cool experiment to choose a word to focus on in 2019.
The word I chose was surrender. I talk more about why I chose surrender to be my word in “Intentional Surrender“, and if you are curious you are more than welcome to go check it out. But, here’s the short version: I knew I needed to learn to surrender/submit to God. I needed to stop white-knuckling the reigns of my life, and I needed to hand the reigns over to God. I needed to learn to breathe in God’s care, even if, and especially when I don’t like it. I need to stop myself from jumping up and grabbing the reigns back when I don’t like the road He is leading me down, because NEWS FLASH He 100% knows better than I do, even when I don’t understand. The God of all time, the God who not only created me, but also every single thing, definitely has more foresight, wisdom, and knowledge than I do.
Anyways, it’s been three months of me consciously and intentionally trying to surrender, and you know what? It’s been beautiful and it’s been difficult. I’ve struggled for the reigns at some points. I’ve gone weeks at a time trying to force my life to go how I want it. But, I’ve realized that every time I do that all that ends up happening is I stress myself out, get frustrated and angry, and often begin to stop spending as much time with God. My heart health never feels good in those times.
Here are some of the things I have learned so far in this journey of surrender:
First and foremost, my life is so much less stressful! I feel that I can really just take the time to enjoy the big and the little moments that happen in life.
I have been learning, and this may seem obvious, but was not to me initially, is that intentional surrender is not just about giving up control. Intentional surrender is also intentionally giving up my bad habits and attitudes and consciously seeking God to transform my heart. Intentional surrender is an act of self-discipline. It’s about learning obedience. It is being obedient through small steps of faith when you feel a prompting (it is a slow and steady marathon and not a sprint). Obedience doesn’t necessarily mean doing anything drastic, as I just stated, sometimes it means taking small intentional steps and making deliberate choices each day, each hour, each minute.
Intentional surrender is also about waiting for God’s timing, while you spend time with Him. I am learning that it is not about what God will do the moment I “hand over the reigns”, rather it is about the growth of a relationship. My mindset is thankfully shifting from a what-will-God-do-now-that-I’ve-let-Him-in mentality, it is also shifting away from me trying to earn or prove my worth. I am finally realizing that my main objective should be wanting closeness and a relationship with God. Just to be with Him; to spend time with Him.
That’s what I need. That’s what He wants.
What happens from there is all God’s doing, not mine. The fruit that will grow out of being with God will be far sweeter than anything I could ever try to force to grow.
I know (from personal experience and from witnessing it in others’ lives) that we often try to run around jumping into things that God never even intended for us. In the process of this we end up burning ourselves out, doing things for the wrong reason, and putting unneeded amounts of pressure on ourselves.
However, when our goal is first and foremost being close to God and developing a true relationship with Him, then everything else in our lives will happen how it is supposed to. He will guide us down the right paths that he has prepared us for. He will guide us down the paths that he has readied our hearts for through the time we spent with Him. I truly believe that when we walk through the doors He has opened for us at the right time, our heart will most likely be doing it for the right reasons, we will avoid burnout, we won’t be doing it to try prove ourselves (to others or to God), we will show the fruits of the spirit in the process (Galatians 5:22), and we will be doing it out of joyful obedience.
So yea, intentional surrender has taught me a lot, and it’s only been three months! I can’t wait to see what else God will continue to teach me throughout this year. I truly believe he is currently laying a strong foundation in me, which at times doesn’t seem that exciting, but I am learning the absolute importance of a strong foundation.
It is also a stunningly beautiful process to see the old unhealthy aspects of my behaviour and thinking pattern be chipped away piece-by-piece, and in its place see the fruit of God begin to grow.
It’s not an overnight radical change, it’s a lifetime process. Honestly, it’s a process that we can easily miss if we don’t ever take time to pause and reflect, which is one thing this whole blogging this has been teaching me.
It is all too easy to get caught up and busy in our lives that we often don’t see how God is moving in our lives. Either because we don’t want to let God move, or because we aren’t ever stopping to reflect on all the small (but significant) heart changes that are happening in us.
Lastly, one of the biggest things that God has been teaching me through intentional surrender is that it’s okay to not be the “perfect” person you thought you would be by now. It’s okay to not be doing all the things you had wanted to be doing at this point. It’s okay that you haven’t seen the immediate results you had wanted (even if it feels like its actually been a long wait). God has a plan for you! It will happen in His perfect timing. Spend time with God and everything after that will happen in his will. Your heart, your desires, your attitude, and how you want to spend your time will all start to change as He lays a strong foundation in your life.
Stop striving, stop putting SO MUCH pressure on yourself, stop worrying about what others think or being “perfect”, and just start spending time with God. Start yearning for closeness and a relationship with Him above all else and watch as He moves.