Saturday, May 3, 2008

A Piece of Rope from the Lord

I've been having a real struggle lately in my relationship. I see all these positive things around me that are changing for the better: most importantly my new faith, my new job, new friends... but the past few weeks it's felt as though the one major negative thing in my life was my relationship with my boyfriend.

Things started to go downhill, and as soon as I saw them changing from the previously dream-like state that they were, I started to worry, and voiced my concerns. I knew that what I was saying was going to be construed as nagging or whining, but when I wouldn't say anything I would only feel worse. It wasn't doing any good to talk about them though, because it invariably turned into an argument with no end, and the result was never a positive resolution but only more frustration on both sides and increased distance between us.

One thing he kept saying to me was, "relax, just relax." But being told to "calm down" when you don't feel like you're stressed out is a really quick and easy way to make someone very angry, very quickly. And of course I would say, "I AM relaxed, I just don't feel good about ______ right now." And on and on we'd go, in circles.

So although things have seemed to get a lot better lately, I think it was really only on a surface level, because as I was trying to explain to him, there's a level of trust in our relationship that's missing in me right now. To which, of course, he kept saying, "just relax." (Arrggghhh!!!)

Finally, after literally 2 hours of arguing back and forth about how the issue wasn't my "relaxing" but the fact that some days I feel loved and some days I don't, he explained himself. He told me he was at church once, where he really hadn't felt like being at the time. The pastor was going to pray for him, and was asking God for any message that he might need to hear. After a few minutes of prayer, the pastor asked him to put out his hands, palms face up, and started shaking them, saying "relax," over and over. Initially this irritated him (it was something his dad had been saying to him for a long time when he would be upset or disappointed with how his life was going, which he responded to identically to how I have been the past few weeks), but the pastor just kept repeating over and over, "relax," as he shook his hands.

It occured to him, after about 15 minutes of this, that what he was trying to get him to do was submit himself to the Lord, and stop trying to be in control of everything. It's so easy for us to believe that as long as we retain a hold on any situation, we can control where it's going to go and how it's going to happen. In reality, we are never going to "be the boss" - God is the boss, and what it really boils down to is that it's always going to be up to Him. Like quicksand, we can either struggle against it (and sink fast), or we can relax and hang out there, because eventually God is going to come along with a branch or a piece of rope and pull us out.

So now here we were, having just argued our faces off, but it all made sense to me all of a sudden. I just need to submit myself to letting things happen. I care about my boyfriend and I show him in certain ways. He cares about me, and he'll show me in his ways too. But those ways aren't going to happen if I keep trying to direct the situation; I have to start just being, to allow him to show me the way he wants to show me. And ultimately, we both need to relax and let our guard down, so that God can lead us in the direction that He sees for us. If we don't relax and let our guard down and start listening to Him, we'll never hear what God wants to tell us.

And after our 3 hour phone call had to come to a close so that I could go to bed and he could get back to work, he left me with Matthew 6; a perfect lesson in God's branch. We need not worry about anything but our own faith in Him, and He will provide for us all that we need.

Mat 6:25

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

Mat 6:26

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Mat 6:27

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[fn2]?

Mat 6:28

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.

Mat 6:29

Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

Mat 6:30

If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

Mat 6:31

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’

Mat 6:32

For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

Mat 6:33

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Mat 6:34

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

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