Saturday, January 31, 2009
some throwback notes...Sept 18, 2008 - this MAY be a repeat....sorry
***Self-sufficiency refers to the state of not requiring any outside aid, support, or (in hardline cases) interaction, for survival; it is therefore a type of extreme personal or collective (group-based) autonomy.***Of all the lessons I was taught as a child, I think the one most drilled into me was that of self-sufficiency. And I see myself doing the same in the lives of my children – insisting that they can make their own beds, clean up their own messes, deal with their own arguments etc etc etc. Now don't get me wrong, I think it is an invaluable skill to be able to take care of yourself and to not burden others. But when does this skill become a sin?Recently I have come to terms with the fact that my self-sufficiency has made me into a control-freak. In everything I do, I have this little voice in my head saying – if you want something done right, do it yourself. In many cases, this can be true. However, I get to the point where I NEVER let anyone else do things, thinking instead that I can do it better myself – not quite the same thing. Also, I have somehow mutated this statement to mean – never ask for help, just deal with it yourself. This, I believe is where it becomes a sin. I can be in the deepest of water, and yet nearly drown myself trying to swim upstream instead of saying – hey brother, can you reach out your hand?God put us here on this earth where we are and when we are for a reason. If God, in all of His infinite wisdom had seen that I was able to completely survive and thrive on my own, He would have put me on some remote island somewhere (sipping cocktails on the beach – no, wait, that is another fantasy).But no, God put me here, in this town, in this generation, among these people for a reason. Someone near me has a gift that would help me. Someone beside me has a longing to be useful. I need to give someone that chance.But, you may be asking, “If I don't do it, who will?” Often I resolve to clean up ALL the messes, take on ALL the jobs, serve in ALL the ministries, because if I don't, who will? Well you know what? SOMEONE WILL. But when I jump in and fill the spot, there is no longer a need, and therefore someone won't. Instead, there is little old me, staying up into the wee hours painstakingly and begrudgingly doing tasks I was never meant to do.If I give up control, who will take the reigns? Well, until I give up control, no one else knows there are any reigns to take up! For example: Recently, a beloved Sunday School teacher in our church stepped down from her post. Now in order to fully appreciate the importance of this event, you should realize that nearly everyone who has grown up in the church (30 years or more) has at one time had her for a teacher. The reason for her departure is not important. What is important though is that by her stepping down, someone new got the opportunity to step in. And it just so happened that that someone was me.Was I coveting the position of a Sunday School teacher? BY NO MEANS. In fact, when our SS Superintendent first asked me if I would be available, I looked at her like she had 2 heads. Me? Teach? Uh, no, I don;t think so.After going home and casually considering it though, I feel like God put it on my heart to say yes – after all, it was only a temporary assignment, and really, how hard could it be? Turns out, I LOVED it, and feel that God has really worked in my life to show me that He has given me the love of teaching. SO much so, in fact, that I now have dreams of returning to school to become a teacher.So, back to my point. Had this former teacher said – “oh, I have been doing it for this long, I can't stop now.....no matter what other burdens I have in my life, I couldn't possibly expect someone else to take up the slack here” - I never would have had this opportunity. For so long I have learned and read that if I want anything, I am going to have to rely on myself, fully and completely, to get it. Other people simply cannot be trusted, or expected to help me. We live in a self-ruled, self-righteous, self-help, self-serve, self-discovery, self-actualization, self-esteem, self-respecting, self reliance world. When I became a Christian, I was told to put away self, to “Fully Rely On God”, to which I replied - “Yeah, right!” This drive to provide fully for myself has lead to an intense fear of submission. ACK – there is that ugly word – submission. But seriously – in order to submit to any type of authority, I must give up some level of control. I think most people are able to submit when absolutely necessary – such as, when the policeman is writing out your speeding ticket, or when the boss is resolutely staring at you from across the desk, trying to decide whether to fire you or not, but what about in the little things?Did you know that obeying the speed limit is an act of submission??? You submit to the authorities by saying, okay, there is the 'speed LIMIT', not the 'speed MINIMUM' or 'speed SUGGESTION' and therefor I am going to drive no more than the limit. What a novel idea....but anyhow....what about a wife submitting to her husband. Yes, the husband is called to be the head of the household, and it is he who must answer to God for how he ran his house. This is not license to rule with an iron fist, but if he is the one who is going to have to own up to God for the decisions made, he is going to have to have a fair amount of say in what decisions are made. Can I deal with that? Can I say...okay, not exactly what I wanted but I am going to go with him and pray for God to do the rest? What about money? Can I submit to God to provide ways for me to earn a living? To provide for me financially? Or do I take that too into my own hands, furiously scratching lottery tickets, with big dreams in mind.No, I am not saying we should not just lay back and become a drain, a sponge, a leech off of society. But neither should we be so determined to control that we can never let anyone else help us. The key is finding the middle ground. So in the end, what opportunities am I denying others by holding on so tightly? What work of God am I holding back by not letting go of the control? How can I possibly expect to see God's work all around me if I insist on doing all the work myself? I can't. And that's the whole point. JUST LET GO.