Lent 2015 Day 23 // Gratitude Without Control

Image by Melissa Clayton

Image by Melissa Clayton

Luke 12:22-32Jeremiah 29:11-13Psalms 46:1 

SCRIPTURE: 

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat, nor about your body, what you shall put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing . . . And which of you being anxious can add a cubit to his span of life?" 

PRAYER: 

Lord, thank you for everything, especially the good that I cannot see yet. I give you my anxiety and desire for control over my material, emotional, and spiritual needs. I know that life is more than food and clothing, and that I cannot increase anything in my life by being anxious. Help me to remember this throughout each day. I trust that you will take care of me since you take care of the birds and flowers. I know you love me more than them and that you desire my heart to be set on you, rather than worrying about things outside my control. Thank you, God, for everything - you are much better at being God than I am! Amen. 

Cultivating a garden is an interesting thing. We can plant seeds all we want, find the perfect soil, and faithfully water them every day, but we can never guarantee the flower will grow. And if it does, we cannot control when it decides to bloom. And when it does bloom, we can never guarantee its survival. 

In the same manner, no matter how many tiny ways we try to control our lives, we never actually succeed. It's impossible because our lives are intertwined with the environment and other human beings and uncertainty. Control is an artificial feeling and a foundation built on sand. 

Yet we build so much of our lives around control. 

We spend so much energy trying to control our image, reputation, emotions, relationships, future, etc. that I'm pretty sure our world is experiencing a pandemic. The disease? An addiction to control. 

We must fight against the poison, and the antidote is cultivating a heart of gratitude. Being truly thankful requires a certain level of presence, an ability to take in the present moment and joyfully accept it for what it is. But in our incredibly hectic world, it's really hard to find people who practice being present to others, and many people find it too vulnerable and uncomfortable. Videogames, Facebook, binge shopping, alcohol, emotional eating, television, pornography, movies, and drugs are all examples of what people use to escape facing the vulnerability of the present moment. While not a complete list, each one is a means to control something, anything, when we feel out of control. If you imagine a recollected person filled with gratitude for the people and things in her life, it's hard to picture her also being constantly immersed in the things listed above. They just don't fit well together when we set our foundation on gratitude. 

So after gradually giving up the need for control, what does a grateful heart look like? 

Well, we curb our tendency towards being future-oriented, and we often grow in patience, confidence, and peace. Anxiety levels decrease in everyday activities, our relationships flourish with room to grow, and we experience joy and freedom from the emotional slavery that used to suffocate us. We thank God for His faithfulness and enduring love. We thank Him that His plan A is usually our plan B, and it is always more perfect. We practice releasing our anxiety and thank Him for His patience as we continue growing in trust. 

And of course, we thank Him for being so much better at running our lives than we are. Let's be honest - we do a worse job with more stress. Let go and let God.