Since the last installment (part 2) I experienced one of those unpleasant, yet necessary occurrences that seem so common in life. I am used to being in control. I usually have a tight grip on my emotions to the point that they are barely even felt. I valued emotional control immensely and would use it to improve my self-confidence. My self-worth was faked and relied on a kind of forced arrogance, where I tried really hard to convince myself that I was superior to others. One of the ways I accomplished this was by poking people with a stick until I got a reaction, and then oozing with smugness as I thought to myself how easy it was to manipulate them and how clever I was to find the right point to stab.
I enjoy control but it can become quite a dangerous obstacle in our relationship with God. We must submit fully to God, this we certainly know and with even a moment’s thought we realise that we are so incredibly insignificant compared to Him. If you just look at the stars and consider for a second how big earth is compared to you, how big the universe is compared to earth, and that God holds the universe in His hands…
It makes sense that we should submit to God since we are so tiny, foolish and blind, while He is huge, intelligent and wise beyond comprehension (look at the incredible design in creation and how it all fits together in one perfect masterpiece), and sees with perfect clarity the details and the big picture, from the beginning of time to the end. Yet despite this, many of us cling to control. We seem to believe we have the right to call the shots in our lives. To some extent we do, we have free will and can always choose whether to follow God or follow the world. Nevertheless, there will be crossroads in our lives where we can go the way that is comfortable and easy and pleasant (most likely some path of the world) or the way that is tough, steep and narrow. God is not going to force us to choose the right path, the one He prepared for us before we even existed. He will be a perfect gentleman and let us make the decision. However, we cannot expect God to follow us when we choose to go off His path. God doesn’t follow and fit into our plans, we slot into His.
Too often, we choose to go in the wrong direction, charging on away from God, and then we become offended that God didn’t move heaven and earth to follow us and get on board with our plans. Again, it doesn’t work like that. When we are fully immersed in the moment, it’s naturally far more difficult to see what is really happening. We look through our tiny, limited, blurry perspectives and forget about the big picture, which God sees in perfect definition. However, it is important to always keep in mind that God knows and wants what is best for us, but not just in the temporary short-term view.
So, I had an interesting experience which has great significance in my life even if it seems somewhat trivial to others. As you know, I shut my emotions off, flip the switch, slam the doors and windows closed, and retreat into my fortress. However, in this state, I am useless to God. What use do I have in spreading the gospel if it’s done from behind stone walls? People need to see the light and love of God clearly and sincerely reflected through us. They most certainly will not respond to a carefully schooled or restrained expression. They will be suspicious and confused, the words wouldn’t match up with the scene in front of them. Emotionless, cold, and unable to connect with people. Shut off from others, perceived as aloof, separate in a very negative way. ”His God is a God of love, yet I see no love abiding in him. How is that possible?”
I recently took my first steps outside of my walls, not entirely by choice initially. I shared information about myself with people, too many people, and then had an irrational response to the vulnerability when some of my friends didn’t bother to respond. Logically I knew they were very busy, but that didn’t seem to matter, I still felt a bit wounded by it. I regretted sharing the information. My reaction was quite interesting:
I can’t believe I just tossed it all out there. As soon as I realised what I had actually shared I wanted to smash the mirror I was looking at. That’s mine. It’s my stuff. What was I thinking? It sounds irrational and pathetic. I can’t stand this feeling of neediness, dependence. I don’t want this. I want my walls back, my deadpan mask and my independence and cold disregard for this emotional rubbish. Emotions suck. I don’t want to feel them. I want my silent, calm fortress and to talk to God alone in there, away from everyone else. Stupid situation. There is a huge split between my conscious and subconscious for control and choice in what is happening. Might sound melodramatic but I cannot choose what happens now. My firm grasp on the reigns has slipped and it keeps sliding away. Anger and a defeatist attitude seem to be the most prevalent reactions. And through this whole little tantrum I can see it’s pathetic and immature, and believe me I hate it. If anything, seeing it makes it even worse because I can’t stop it without actually shutting down, and some part of me knows I mustn’t. This whole reaction is stupid. That it leaves my own head is stupid. It is meant to bounce around inside my skull till its fixed. Such a useless and pathetic situation. And I suspect God wants it to happen. Maybe I’ll fix myself over night and wake up normal. Maybe I am supposed to learn the side effects of trying to care for things. I don’t know, but it sucks and it’s pathetic. Stupid dependence. Stupid uncontrolled reaction. All just stupid. The dam wall has a leak, which might get worse. I don’t know whether to fix it or let it break. I don’t know which I want.
Yes, it seems like an overreaction, but you must understand that I have been living in my fortress for a very long time. Everything in my control, my world all walled up, safe and protected. I was sort of pushed out beyond my walls and told not flee back into the castle. Stay in the dark as the unknown starts raging around you, find your way in a storm you have never experienced. The castle doors are open for you, but don’t go back.
I went for a drive with an awesome friend and we talked through the stuff. I had completely forgotten that God had told me this was coming. I was panicking and letting my emotions control me. That’s never a good idea. But at the same time we must not repress and kill our own emotions. My friend got an image from God in that conversation that gives some perspective on the situation. If we think of our emotions and ourselves as horses, please bare with me…
When our emotions just run wild all the time, we are a massively powerful stallion, strong legs pumping beneath us, muscles rippling under the skin, fast and agile, an awesome specimen. However, we are also wild, volatile, uncontrollable, unpredictable, and not what God wants. It’s not too fun to ride a powerful and rebellious stallion. When God wants to ride, it just runs away or was busy hiding, or rolling in some mud somewhere, always off doing its own thing. Scruffy and stubborn and always difficult and irritating to deal with. On the other side, if we suppress our emotions we are this scrawny, bony, wobbly, undernourished, small little horse that can barely move and is nearly destroyed by the wind. God can handle us, but we are useless. We cannot carry anything, we can hardly even move. Now what does God want? God wants a powerful, beautiful stallion under his control. He needs the stallion to be broken so that He can ride the stallion into battle, charge the enemy at great speed and know for certain that the horse is completely submitted to Him, responding to even just His thoughts since their connection is so deep and clear, responding to his commands immediately and without question, left, right, full speed, dirt thrown up behind as hooves pound into the earth, war horse and the God of Love and War leading a charge into battle, see the darkness ahead and tunnel through without a moments doubt, muscles rippling, full speed, straight into and through the enemy lines. Never wavering. That’s what God wants, that’s what He can use in powerful and epic ways, that’s how He changes the lives of the masses, through the obedience and submission of His children who trust and adore Him, who will do absolutely anything, endure any trials, endure any discomfort, their eyes always focussed on Jesus.
That image is epic and motivating for me. To add an extra layer of depth, I am actually scared of horses. I think they are too big, too strong, their mouths are too large, what if they step on me, or bite my arm or head…it also doesn’t help that I was chased by one when I was probably around 12 years old, and I was tiny so this massive charging horse was not remembered too fondly. However, I also find horses to be incredibly beautiful. They are majestic and powerful and as long as they are in their enclosure, I find them awesome to look at and admire. How fitting is this image? What an awesome blessing from God. God moves and He is real. If we submit, let go of the control of our lives, hand the reigns to Him, He will do amazing things through us. All we have to do is let go of whatever it is that we cling to. Sometimes that takes a journey, but God is patient and God is good. He doesn’t expect us to fix ourselves alone, He just wants our hearts focused on Him and He will do the rest. He will be there every step of the way. He is always there with you. He is ever faithful. He is simply incredible.