Let’s face it. Life is scary. Sometimes it’s terrifying. We get ideas, and we make our plans. But we also tend to get our hearts so set on certain things that when they don’t work out, we are crushed. We get scared, and we get angry. The feeling of helplessness, of having no control over our circumstances, compels us to seek out some form of relief. Sadly, the solutions we settle for only offer temporary relief. We humans spend an awful lot of time and money on just trying to make ourselves feel better.
Ever since I started running a small business, I have come to rely much more upon the wisdom and compassion of God. The older I get, the clumsier and more forgetful I get. Sometimes I get mad at myself, but then I remember some lyrics from a Billy Joel song: “You’re only human. You’re supposed to make mistakes!”
When we screw up, it’s easy to imagine the harsh, critical comments that people might be making about us. It’s painful to realize that some people see us as idiots, morons, or mentally incompetent. We all have our moments when we seem to be losing our grip. But the good news is that we don’t have to let this discourage us.
Despite our many flaws, we can take comfort in the fact that the One who knows us best is also the One who loves us most. Psalm 139 tells of God’s perfect knowledge of us. He formed our inward parts; He understands our thoughts; and no matter where we go, we cannot flee His presence. I love the way this psalm ends: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties.” What heart doesn’t have anxieties?
I’ll always remember the time I was downright hysterical. There I was, huddled beneath the covers, wailing like a scared puppy. I couldn’t believe the sounds coming out of me. What was I so afraid of? I had myself convinced that two of the women in my recovery group were out to destroy me. I ran away and couldn’t bare the thought of going back. But I had to. And yet returning for more of their meanness was unthinkable.
Fortunately I had people praying for me. I did go back, and I gradually overcame my fear of those women. But it was just a matter of time before another fear presented itself. And unless I wanted to spend the rest of my life checking in and out of psych wards, I was going to have to learn how to accept the flaws of others and not allow them to run over me, leaving me flattened like roadkill.
Once I made the decision to cast my every care upon the Lord and trust Him to watch over me , teaching me what He wants me to learn, I realized I don’t have to be afraid anymore. Oh, sure, there are moments when I’m panic-stricken and overwhelmed. But those are only moments. And they pass just as quickly as I shift my focus away from the problem and fix my eyes upon my Problem Solver. The crisis might not be resolved right away, but the feeling of hopelessness and despair is gone when I remind myself that I belong to God and He takes care of His own.
I still get myself in trouble when I try to take on too much or don’t budget my time well. But when I start working myself into a fit of I can’t do anything right, I just ask the Lord to guide my mind and my heart as well as my hands and feet. I commit the remainder of the day to Him and trust Him to help me get everything done that He wants me to get done. Great is His faithfulness!
A big part of running a business is scheduling. And rescheduling. And more rescheduling! I not only use a daily planner and a pencil (nothing is in ink, for obvious reasons), I also put jobs on the calendar in my cellphone. I have to laugh when I think of all the time I invest in planning each day. More often than not, something happens that makes the day turn out quite differently than I had planned. I refuse to believe that all the time I spent planning was wasted. If I didn’t plan my day, I would feel as though I were flying by the seat of my pants, playing it by ear, leaving everything to chance. I wouldn’t be able to sleep, wondering where I was supposed to be and who I was supposed to be working for.
I could get all bent out of shape when things don’t go according to my plan. I could fuss and fret when someone asks me to do something that doesn’t seem to fit into my schedule. But part of the adventure of being a small business owner is figuring out how to fit everything together so that clients are pleased and God his honored. I sometimes have to disappoint one of my clients, but that’s when I have to rely upon the grace of God to help them see that I care and that I really am trying to do well.
Proverbs 16:9 says “A man’s heart plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps.” These words are comforting when my best-laid plans fall apart and the day starts to feel like a jumbled mess. Sometimes I just say, “Okay, Lord, You’ve got this. I’ve already committed my life into Your care. Now I just need You to guide me through each valley and every hairpin curve.” Now that I know He’s intimately acquainted with all my ways and an ever-present help in times of trouble, there’s no reason for me to be afraid when my plans go awry.
I wasted so much time focusing on me and what I wanted, rather than on what God wanted for me. I could’ve spared myself a lot of anguish and shame by maintaining a close walk with my Redeemer, allowing His Spirit to be my covering my shield. But I chose to allow Satan, the master deceiver, to convince me that pursuing my own interests and catering to my own desires would bring joy and contentment. WRONG.
Now, after years of struggling with the bipolar disorder, letting that mental rollercoaster compel me to make poor choices that hurt a lot of people, I am finally strong and stable, independent of psychotherapy and medication but very dependent upon God’s wisdom, strength, mercy, and grace. After listening to someone describe being delivered from the bondage of alcoholism and meth addiction, I realized that God is able to deliver us from all forms of mental and emotional bondage.
John 8:37 says we are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Becoming a child of God in 1977, at the age of eighteen, was the beginning of my new life in Christ. But I had a lot of learning to do, and experience is a great teacher. Yes, I’m only human and I’m supposed to make mistakes. But as a follower of Christ, I’m also supposed to learn from my mistakes and commit my way to Him, delighting myself in Him (Psalm 37). Only then could I expect Him to give me the desires of my heart. Only then would my desires become honorable ones that coincide with His perfect plan for me.
When faced with a marital crisis 2014, I experienced a combination of pain, anger, and fear. Tearfully I called out to my heavenly Father and said, “What do You want me to do about this?” I could feel His words wrap around me like a warm blanket on a cold night. Draw near to Me, and I will draw near to you. Once I did that, I began experiencing His loving, mighty hand leading me and guiding me.
While reading two devotionals, “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young and “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers, I began spending more time reading scripture and praying. As I developed stronger faith, I also developed courage to apply myself in ways I never dreamed I could. My brother Bill, who saw me through some of my darkest periods, recently said to me, “You’re finally living the life I always wanted for you.”
Some people have this idea that religion is some sort of crutch. Or worse, they see the Christian faith as a form of brainwashing. Well, as a member of the human race, I’m a member of a fallen race (Romans 3:1-19). But thanks be to God, who “so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Not only has my mind been washed, but also my heart. Washed by the blood of the Lamb.
At one time my plan was to become an actress. At another time, I wanted to become an executive secretary. I even entertained the notion of being a lounge singer. (Okay, I haven’t altogether abandoned that one yet.) But whatever plans I come up with, I can rest assured that my loving heavenly Father’s plan for me is the very best-laid plan of all.
“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).