For the most part, we actually had a fairly peaceful morning. I woke up when I was supposed to. Made the kids smoothies for breakfast and packed a fun lunch. The older boys got dressed without too much prodding and they managed to not destroy our family closet in the process.
We were just about to head out and I looked down at the tray on the counter where I usually put my keys–and they weren’t there. I glanced around and didn’t see them nearby. So, naturally, I started to think about the chain reaction this was going to have for our day. The kids were going to be late to school. Again. I probably wouldn’t make my meeting this morning; therefore, my business can’t possibly grow like I want it to this year.
How in the world did I let this happen? I work so hard to keep things orderly. Heck, I employ people who’s sole purpose is to keep things orderly around me so that I can focus on the bigger fish.
At this point I wasn’t just thinking about my lost keys and the day at hand, but I was furious about my failures and my inability to keep it all together. As my blood pressure went up, the kids ran outside ahead of me. I ran after them stressed and shouting at them to get back in the apartment. As they were gleefully running back inside, my three year old tripped and banged his chin hard on my awesomely mod concrete planters. Amidst the screams, I quickly snatched him up to make sure he was okay and my sense of chaos just got deeper.
Why can’t I keep it all together?
After getting all the kids back inside, we searched high and low. I grilled them about who was playing with the keys. I called the nanny to see if she still had them from yesterday. No luck. After I did everything I could think to do to find them, I crashed on the couch, cried, and prayed.
In praying, I surrendered. I let it go. I admitted that I’m broken and it’s impossible for me to get it all right on my own.
Don’t get me wrong – I am a strong woman. And I’m proud of that. Most would consider me a feminist – some another word that rhymes with “witch” but isn’t so nice. And when an obstacle is in my path, I demolish it. But I can only do that when I recognize that I’m really not the one in control. I have allowed the Holy Spirit to work through me. And sometimes that looks different from what I’m expecting. But in the end, it’s a comfort that God is always there and He will always deliver me, even from something as trivial as losing my keys. Because really the keys are just a symbol for everything else that’s wrong in my life.
So, I prayed. I surrendered. And I verbally expressed the fact that I know I can’t keep it all together on my own and that I need God to intervene and fix the brokenness that surrounds me.
I never did find my keys.
But, I did find my backup key in the handbag I was using last month. And that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t of let go and let God help me handle the situation.
Let’s clear this up, though. Praying is not a magic spell.
You can’t say a few fancy words and manipulate God into doing what you want Him to. No lie, I was in Starbucks working a few weeks ago when I overheard a woman asking the barista if they had found something she left in the coffee shop. They didn’t have it behind the counter or in the safe, so the barista offered a suggestion. She recited a cute little riddle about finding something that was once lost and said that if she believes in God that riddle would make the lost item appear somewhere – like magic. That’s not what we’re doing when we’re praying.
You can’t make God do anything. And I doubt it would turn out in your favor if you tried to manipulate your Creator. Praying only works because it’s a surrender. When you recognize your brokenness – then and only then can you create space for the Holy Spirit. You’re not in control – God is. God gave us free will, but when you surrender you are giving him control. Free will hasn’t served us very well since the beginning, has it?
The most striking visual explanation that’s stuck with me for several years was when Dave Ramsey explains his theory about the money in an open hand. Picture your hand with a dollar bill in it. Most people want to hold on to their money so tight – now picture that your hand is balled up into a fist trapping that money so it couldn’t get away. The money can’t leave your hand, but there’s no way for new money to get into your hand either. Now picture that you’ve released the tension in your fist and your hand is opened flat with the dollar bill on top. It’s possible that the dollar would fall or get taken from you, but it’s also possible that many more dollars can end up replacing it.
We don’t have to just think of this as money, though. Think of the hand as your posture towards God. If you’re turned into yourself protecting everything you have to maintain control in your life, you’re not allowing new blessings to come into your life. When you let go and open up, you give that control over to God. Sure, you may lose out on something you feel is important to you. But you will be delivered in new ways that you weren’t even able to imagine.
This is something I have to remind myself of daily.
And now you see how something as common and simple as losing my keys incites an existential crisis in me. Sorry, Tim Ferris, I won’t be able to start the 4-Hour Body this week because I’m about to emotionally stuff my face with this spinach and bacon souffle since I actually made it to my meeting by the skin of my teeth.