I would like you to be free from concern. 1 Corinthians 7:32
A few months ago, Jocelyn let out a cry from her bedroom upstairs. Zack’s immediate response was, “I’ve got this!” as he went bounding up the stairs to help his little sister. He said it with such confidence and conviction that I didn’t doubt for a second that he could handle whatever the situation was when he got to her. It was a pretty amazing experience to see my ten-year-old son step up without being asked. It was an even greater experience for me to let go of my control issues and let Zack respond, and to trust that He’d do just fine.
I was running a retreat for moms this past Friday evening at my parish. Things leading up to it just weren’t going right. School was canceled two days in a row due to snow, stealing precious prep time with my three kids at home all day. My printer died so I had to spend an hour I didn’t really have at the town library printing documents for it. My husband got word that he unexpectedly had to go to Connecticut on the evening of the retreat for a wake and a funeral. So I had to scramble and get a sitter who could sleep overnight with my kids. The final straw was when the forecast called for more snow that could possibly force me to cancel it. The moms that were supposed to attend had worked so hard to arrange childcare and all the other details of their lives so they could step away for the evening. No easy task. To try and find another date when each and every one of them could do that all over again seemed near impossible. I could feel the stress and pressure mounting.
So in the midst of the chaos, I retreated to pray for help. Although the incident with Zack and Jocelyn happened months ago, and was the furthest thing from my mind, right in the middle of my prayer time, as clear as a bell, I heard “I’ve got this!” again. But I knew deep in my core that I wasn’t hearing Zack’s voice; I was hearing God’s. He said it with the same confidence and conviction that Zack had, but I wasn’t able to let go of my control issues as easily as I had with Zack. One minute I would let go and trust that Voice; the next minute I’d look out the window at the snow coming down so heavy, my stress would start all over again. Back and forth, back and forth I battled: relinquishing control, and then grabbing it back again.
During one of the moments of letting go and trusting, I became aware of an unfounded prompting to stop in at the Parish Center that afternoon. I was puzzled as to why I was being nudged to do so. A teen volunteer and I had already set everything up the day before. I didn’t need to go back until that evening when it was time to actually run the retreat. But that nudge wouldn’t go away. With Jocelyn’s school just two blocks away, I gave in to it and stopped in at the Parish Center after picking her up. Fr. Brian happened to be there. Just chatting, I mentioned that my husband was going to be taking our mini-van with snow tires to Connecticut because of the forecast, leaving me with his car that he called “a bob sled in the snow” to get to and from that night’s retreat. Not hesitating a beat, Fr. Brian immediately offered me his car, calling it “a tank in the snow!” His offer came with such conviction that I didn’t doubt for a second that he meant it sincerely. The wave of relief that literally brought tears to my eyes made me realize just how fearful I had been about driving my husband’s car in the snow. I suddenly realized why I had been prompted to go to the parish center: God truly did have my back and was solving my problems for me.
But despite that overt show of support from God, I still couldn’t let go enough to get to a place of complete trust. Why could I let go and trust Zack, but I couldn’t do the same with God?
The amazing thing is, despite my doubt, despite my lack of trust, God followed through on His promise. The retreat went off without a hitch. Fr. Brian’s car got me to the Parish Center safely, every mom who had signed up was able to make it, and our time together was blessed.
The gift I prevented myself from receiving was what this passage offers, “to be free from concern.” God not only wanted me to trust Him, but He wanted to take my stress and worry away too. But I didn’t let Him. Isn’t that a true shame?
I guess I can’t go as many years as I have trying so hard to control things just to let that control go in an instant. I now realize that it’s a practice. Just like practicing ballet prepares the dancer for her big recital, I have to practice trusting God with all the little things, day in and day out, to readily default to trust with the big things. If I don’t, I’ll continue moving forward, sure. But I’ll do so with worry and stress. Or, I can flex my “trust muscles” and get it all done “free from concern.”
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