My dear daughter
I see it in the way your eyes frenzy, the way your cheeks puffed red with play now fill with frustration as you recount to me how the other children won’t do it the way you want them to. I see myself in that frustration, that anger, that frantic grasping. Oh my girl, how do I help you when I am just like you? It’s about control, dear girl. Maybe one of your greatest battles as you grow up and even into womanhood will be over the issue of control.
Ask any woman around, and if she’s honest she’ll agree. You can trace that common thread among us all the way back to the Garden, all the way back to Eve. The way she fell for it straight from the snake’s mouth, the lie that God was withholding something better for her. The lure that she could procure a better reality for herself if she only reached out her hand and grasped for it, rather than reach up her hands and ask for it. Wait for it. Surrender it.
It’s going to be about trust for you and I, my sweet girl.
You’re the firstborn, and I don’t know much about being a firstborn because I was a middle. But I do know it’s harder for the firsts. Borne in you is a natural desire and gifting to manage, organize, corral, and lead. These are beautiful gifts, important, and leadership will probably come naturally to you. However, these strengths can be hamstrung by a desire for control and you might as well go ahead and get your eyes wide open to it.
I see it in women around me, I see it in myself. We are so very afraid to trust the hand the Lord has dealt us as His good for us, His love to us. We want so much to see our husbands do things this way or that way, instead of gently being led by them, entrusting ourselves to God in placing us in this union with this man who had all these faults we didn’t see when we married him (never mind all our own faults).
We want so much to pummel our bodies into the shape of this woman or that woman, failing to recognize or accept that God formed and fashioned us with a certain build and we each have a unique beauty to offer, even if it isn’t what mimics the magazine covers.
We want so much to have these kind of children, this sort of lifestyle and income and home, and we bend ourselves in a million crazy ways trying to achieve it, almost until we break.
We don’t want the good gifts God has given us, we look out and see a better life that we believe we can construct and reach out a hungry hand and grasp for it. We don’t like limitations and boundaries and we certainly don’t like surrender.
So often the work of trust is the work of staying empty. Being okay with a temporary emptiness, resisting the frantic urge to fill the void. Instead of reaching out and grabbing that apple, reaching out that hand and leaving it empty, open, waiting, surrendered. Waiting for God to fill it. Enjoying Him instead of the thing we think we must have. Trusting Him as we ask, finding our way to contentment if His answer is no.
The antidote to control is trust, my girl. T R U S T.
When I say this to my own soul, I feel weary with another “do” I must perform, another thing to work at. But the very essence of trust, I’m learning, is that it isn’t primarily a work that I must produce, a work of mustering up feelings of trust, but rather it is a work of remembering and resting. Go back and review who God is, remind your soul who He is, what great things He has done. Start in Psalm 103, if you need a place to start.
“Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s…”
Go on a littler further and see His hands stretched wide on the cross, stretched wide so that He could remove your sins far from you, as far as the east is from the west
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Ground your soul so deeply in who He is, marvel over His love and His work toward you and on your behalf. Can you trust this God? Is He not good? Is He not full of love toward you? Are not all His ways toward you grace and love?
“The Lord is good to all,
And His tender mercies are over all His works.”
You won’t understand how they are love and grace, especially when the rose He hands you comes prickled with thorns. All you can know for sure are His precious promises, His inerrant and unfailing words, and you can find rest for your soul here.
This is where trust is born: remembering again who He is, how He loves, what He’s done for you, then resting in it. Ceasing from striving, from straining, even the strain to understand all the “whys.”
This is no easy task, child. It is a choosing, a literal exertion of will. Choose to stop, to still, to smile, even, in the safety of your Father’s hands. Let yourself be held. That is the work of trust. Doesn’t that sound so welcoming, so irresistible?
“Against insurmountable obstacles and without a clue as to the outcome, the trusting heart says, ‘Abba, I surrender my will and my life to you without any reservation and with boundless confidence, for you are my loving Father.'”
-Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust
Gloriously, the outcomes, the trajectory, the end results are not really in our hands. (Walk into any cancer ward and talk with anyone receiving a diagnosis of any kind and you can’t escape that truth.) We can either fight against this reality or we can accept it, and the difference will show in how much joy we have in our time here. You and I, sweet girl, we can run our race ragged and angry and out of breath with fear, or we can run abiding in His love, resting, trusting. He means for us to have joy, joy to the full. He’s a good, good Father.
“He who heeds the word wisely will find good,
And whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.”
“The way of trust is a movement into obscurity, into the undefined, into ambiguity, not into some predetermined clearly delineated plan for the future. The next step discloses install only out of a discernment of God acting in the desert of the present moment. The reality of naked trust is the life of a pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious, and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future. Why? Because God has signaled the movement and offered it his presence and his promise.”
Manning, Ruthless Trust
“The Lord upholds all who fall,
And raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look expectantly to You,
And You give them their food in due season.
You open Your hand
And satisfy the desire of every living thing.
The Lord is righteous in all His ways,
Gracious in all His works.
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He also will hear their cry and save them.”