By Heather Allen-
I was resting on a floral couch, swirling the ice and water in my cup. Focused on the cubes, I smiled thinking how preferable sitting in my friend’s sun porch was to the lengthy to do list waiting at my doorstep. We swapped kid stories, shared laughs, grimaced over concerns, and then she mentioned something her husband shared at church. My head came up. ‘Being uncomfortable in our situations is not a bad thing”, she went on. “It can mean that God is bringing necessary change”.
I nodded my head as this flowed off her tongue. Not even eighteen hours before I flipped on the radio as the host said, “The solution to your problem lies outside your comfort zone.” The little orange notebook, in my purse, holds these words.
There was a misunderstanding after breakfast. I like the kitchen cleaning to begin when the meal finishes. This morning my timeline caused a bit of conflict. And there were discussions and elevated voices as we tried clarifying and compromising. We found it was not working.
So we sat at the table, the surface still slick with halfhearted washing, me soundlessly praying for the ability to pole-vault out of my pride, her seething red from the injustice of being misunderstood.
I hand over pen and paper, explaining that we will clarify the expectations and what it means to clean the kitchen. The writing pauses and steely eyes look me square in the face “I will write what you say, but it doesn’t change what I think”. I think over my prepared response, breathe and say it lightly. Neither of us is comfortable.
I flip open my Bible to a long loved passage. Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (NIV).
I am gripped with this thought, lie out your petition, and present your request. There is nothing here instructing me to figure out solutions and then pray God will use them. I tighten my hand into a fist, watchful, turn my hand up and uncurl my fingers. These hands, this mind, this body, they are frail and finite. I pause thinking how peaceful life is when I do not fight for my way. I carry the thought further wondering if the root of my striving is anxiety. My plan is a well-worn rug. His seems a bit foreign, a bit scarier. But why fight for a path without knowing its destination? Why would I do this? I ask aloud. Why would I pay so much attention to my own directions?
The beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega, is Immanuel, God with us. He knows where each path leads. Sow to flesh, reap flesh. Sow to the Spirit; reap Spirit. The fruit of His Spirit turns self-absorption and striving into self-control and peace.
A willful girl can willfully hold her life up as a sacrifice. And though her arms shake under the strain and pressure, they will grow stronger. Time and new habits do that. Fortifying a heart that resolutely yearns to beat for another. Humility is a tether, reminding me, I do not know how to lead. My petition, my prayer is that I will learn to follow.