The god of Control tricks its way into our lives with things we believe to be true.
But they’re not.
And I’m so done believing in them.
So many times throughout the Gospels, Jesus keeps telling his followers things that make no sense to them. He speaks with authority and control. His power is something that leaves people speechless and changed. I was reading today of the cost of following Jesus in Matthew 8. It’s so ironic that I stumbled on this passage because it’s something I’ve been struggling with lately.
You see, I’m a twenty something girl who’s struggled most of her adult life without a boyfriend.
To so many, they would say this wouldn’t matter to them. For a while I truthfully believed it didn’t. It didn’t matter to me that all I focused on all day was schoolwork and getting A’s in every class. I didn’t need or want a man. I knew I didn’t need a boy to tell me I was pretty. And I so wanted high scores.
And I got them. Deep inside, part of me thought I had controlled my value. I was the A student. I got perfect grades. Why wasn’t this making me happier? I wondered so many times as I studied and aced another test.
What did it all matter if I didn’t have anyone?
You might also think that if you’ve never been in an actual bf-gf relationship, like most of the world has been, then your heart has never been broken. This is the furthest thing from the truth.
The truth is that I ended up being the girl who locks herself in a bathroom stall and cries about not having anyone. I remember moments when the pain cut into my heart and reality mocked me, the reality crushing in when I found myself alone on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the semester, watching and listening to stories of the perfect guy, the perfect date, and the perfect relationship.
Then the scene switched to the end of my senior year, when several friends became engaged to be married. And then after graduating, the volume of marriages and happily ever afters increased. Along with the brokenness of feeling valueless and worthless and to be completely truthful I felt unloved and not beautiful enough to ever be the girl a great guy would choose to marry.
To understand it, you’d have to walk in my Nikes. And feel the sting of rejection and loneliness. You’d have to grasp what I believed as I scrolled through social media and the gap between what I thought I needed in all of my friends’ fairytale romances and what I saw in my own life that just couldn’t be breached.
Most of us single girls on a good day are happy enough.
We’re happy that we’re loved and valued and remind ourselves (if we love Jesus) that Jesus loves us and died for us. He gives us value and worth that nothing in this world could ever measure up to. But if you look closer, there’s a brokenness that we, or at least I, veil behind a mask of self-sufficiency. Especially being single and twenty something and you happen to still glance at your facebook feed as it blows up with diamond rings, fairytale weddings, and happily ever after families peering out from you in perfect snapshots.
And you catch your breath when you realize that those were your dreams once as a ten year old playing with your little cousins. You hoped that someday that would be you with all of that joy. And somehow you have arrived at life without it.
Which was part of what I thought I’d find when I moved to DC. I thought I’d find security and value in a job and a career. I thought, as I interned on the Hill, that I’d someday find a great job that would provide value and meaning and purpose to my life. I thought that through the friends and career that I worked tirelessly to pursue, I would accomplish all that I wanted and a man didn’t need to be in the picture.
I would be completely satisfied and content with taking the reins.
If you know me, you know that’s not where I’m at. God’s ways are higher than mine. I used to view valleys and deserts as empty, atrocious places where nothing fun happened. But then He came and wrecked my life with these things that have happened this past year.
I don’t know all His reasons, but my soul knows this: He is the only One who satisfies. I’ve ached and searched and tried to control how I can get value and attention from my job and comfort and worth from trying to figure out my life my way.
None of those things satisfied me except Jesus.
Which brings me to Matthew 8. In this chapter, a teacher of the law approached Jesus, telling him he would follow Jesus wherever he went. In response, Jesus tells him that “the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” And then one of his disciples mention about burying the dead, to which Jesus replies “follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
As I read this, I realized how much I want to control my relationship with Jesus. Even back then, the disciples and teachers of the law had their own perception of following Christ. They imagined that they could follow Him their own way, and He would give them everything they wanted in their timing, and their happiness would result in all that God was giving them in their way and in their timing. And that it wouldn’t cost them comfort. That it wouldn’t cost them everything. Especially their control.
You see, in these few verses Jesus was teaching what He’d been teaching the whole time He walked the earth. He was telling people that we can’t come to God on our own terms and expect God to show up in a mighty way. We can’t come to Him with half-hearted desires for Him. We can’t come to Him expecting comfort in this life or to expect Him to sympathize with how much we want to just stay comfortable instead of stepping out in obedience to Him.
The past few years, I’ve tried to control everything in my life – career, job – and even my relationship with Jesus. But there’s no such thing as both of us controlling how I follow Him. There’s also no such thing as both of us controlling my career, my job, or any part of my life.
So even in this season of singleness and heartache, I’m reminded of the God who is in control. Whose authority is worth relying on and whose power is enough to turn even the most hopeless seasons into hopeful ones. We can trust Him in the valley seasons because it’s at the end of ourselves that He says – nope, you can’t control this, but I can.
And HE will.