Last month, we decided to take a trip out West. What was to be a six hour drive on paved roads, ended up being about 10 hours, taking an accidental wrong turn and driving 125 miles off road. At the end of the day, I realized our rear tire was low, so I ran over to a tire repair place to have it fixed after we arrived at the guest house we were staying that night. They fixed the tire, but he next morning before we departed, I noticed it was low again, so I took it back and had them replace it. They ended up putting a cheap tube in it and sent us on our way. Three hours down the road, we hit a pot hole hard enough that it pinched the tube and air started to escape quickly. I got out, jacked up the car and began to remove the lug nuts from the bolts on the wheel.And that’s when the real problems started.
When the tire repair put the wheel on that morning, they cross threaded not one, not two, but three of the wheel lug bolts which ended up breaking off when I went to remove the wheel. Please keep in mind AAA doesn’t exist here, our Mongolian is nowhere near fluent and there was no cell reception. Not to mention we were an hour, easily, from any type of village/town/city. After a brief moment of me losing it (some words we shall not mention and a few punches of the tire of which I’m not proud of), we were able to call an expat friend of ours at the guest house who sent out a mechanic. Several hours later, we were on our way to continuing our vacation.
Reading that, I’m assuming some of you could feel the tension and frustration and may have reacted similarly. But why?
Very generally speaking, North Americans are pretty planned out people. I know I am. I’m not to the extent as some people (funny how I automatically disassociate myself from extremes :), but I still do like to plan. Planning in and of itself is not a bad thing. It’s good. It’s when the plan begins to dictate everything that it becomes a problem. For example, I used to be the kind of guy who could never relax on any vacation we went on. Why, you may ask? Because I was too busy planning our next vacation.
Sad, I know.
Planning is great to create strategies, business goals, budgeting and saving for future things. When it begins to power over relationship, or potentially, whatever God has for us in that moment though, we begin to no longer engage with what is going on in the present. We’re too focused on what it “should” be and not seeing what it “is.” As I often say, “it’s not good to ‘should’ all over yourself.” We can get buried in the law of “should.”
I’ve grown in this area, not because of any great thing I’ve done, but simply because I’ve lived in two separate cultures that are far more event oriented than time oriented. Being from a time oriented culture (time rules the day), it really messes with you and can cause some great frustration if you move to an event oriented culture (more about the event no matter when it “should” start or how long it “should” go on). Why? Because if you are used to people being on time and ending on time and move to a culture where things may start 30 minutes to an hour later, it can cause impatience. The reason- it messes with my plan. In the simplest form, that’s it. It fluctuates, changes, challenges my plan.
I wish this simply applied to the start of work, a meeting or even a date. But it doesn’t. It applies to many aspects of my life. What I’m going to do next week, month, year or even a decade from now…if it messes up my plans, I react. And usually, not in a good way. To me, it is a small (or big) form of control. And control is only a thing reserved for God.
I was chatting with a friend of mine the other day. We were talking about recovery, what was going on in our lives and how we can’t control what will happen no matter how hard we try. Then he said “I’m simply trying to surrender what I think tomorrow will look like.” That thought stuck with me. The idea of surrendering my idea, my “design” of what tomorrow will be with all of it’s nuances and intricacies. Huh, what a novel idea.
If I am able to surrender what I think my tomorrow will look like for the sake of relationship, I can begin to see how my life would be lived much differently. If I can surrender what my tomorrow should look like for the sake of being present with where I am, who I’m with and where God is in all of it, what a more colorful life I could be living. I am not saying give in and have no boundaries. God also desires that we have healthy boundaries in place for our physical, emotional and spiritual health. But boundaries are much different than holding to a plan above everything else.
Pause for a moment and wonder how your life might change if you began to live in such a way to be present where you are. Surrendering that bit of control may bring awareness of God and awareness of self like you’ve never encountered before. And it’s here we begin to see the world with God’s eyes.
be blessed today