Today's Devotional Thought
March 31, 2020 by Rachel Piferi
Don't Just Clean Out a Closet
I am a studier of human behavior. Partly by education and occupation (Research Psychologist here), but also partly just by nature. I love to watch people and study how people interact with the world and with their circumstances. I love to watch myself too and I often self-analyze why I am feeling certain things or why my reactions may have been what they were. I've always been like that and it just kind of happens.
The last few weeks of complete social upheaval has given me much to watch and learn from. In myself. In others. On social media. On the news. And, I will be the first to admit that this has thrown me a bit, as it has so many others. For a couple of weeks at the beginning, I just felt "off." Like I could not seem to get my footing. I'm sure I'm not alone.
And to our defense, things were changing all the time (and in many ways still are). New social rules. New health fears. New technologies. New schedules. New ways to go to work, school, church.
Change was everywhere.
And do you know what I have noticed?
We didn't really like it.
We missed things. Complained about things. Worried about things.
We felt "off."
And, in some ways, it was all legitimate.
Until it wasn't.
You see, I think we've gotten to the point that we all need to stop talking about "normal." And, I think we need to stop all the cheap fixes at regaining "normal."
Let me explain...
I've read a lot of psychologists' recommendations on how to regain a sense of order and stability in the middle of this chaos. Heck, in the name of mental health, I've even made those recommendations myself.
Make your bed.
Take a walk.
Play games with your family.
Keep a routine.
Turn off the news.
Turn off social media.
Call a friend.
Own your feelings.
Look for the good.
Clean out a closet.
But, as I was praying and thinking about it all, I started wondering, what if we're not supposed to just clean out a closet? What if we aren't just supposed to make our beds and put on real pants to feel more "stable" in this unusual season? What if we shouldn't just put a normal routine on an abnormal situation?
What if we shouldn't be seeking stability and normalcy now, but instead, be using it all as an opportunity to learn how to experience peace and become comfortable in the uncontrollable and unpredictable?
Well, uncontrollable and unpredictable to us, that is...
If I've learned anything about humans over the last 25 years of studying human behavior and just living life, it is this: we like to control our destinies. We like predictable. And we like control over our lives. In fact, in some cultures (like the United States), we take much pride in controlling our lives. In producing good outcomes for ourselves. In working hard and "becoming something." We talk about pursuing happiness and having the freedom to be all that we can be. No limits. No dream too big. Nothing you can't do if you just put your mind to it.
The land of opportunity, hope, and self-made (wo)men.
But what if that's never been good for us? What if it has all made us a bit too self-reliant? And, what if this extreme belief in being able to control our own destinies and be all that we can be has actually caused us to miss out on what God can do. What if, in our control over our lives, we have limited ourselves to only the possibilities we can think of or create? What if it has caused us to actually think or reach too small?
What if cleaning out a closet or structuring our days is actually causing us to miss the extraordinary outcomes that God has for us?
What if we're all just on a big timeout, sent to our rooms, limited in our self-direction of our days so that we can surrender to someone bigger than we are, with dreams for our lives that are more abundant than we can even see. What if our self-created, ordered and "normal" lives of February were too small and not the full lives that God wants us to live?
What if the end of 2020 is supposed to be more than we could even imagine, and we had to lose control of our days so that we could be given more abundant lives?
I think we've all learned that we don't like to be restricted or told that everything is canceled and we can't do what we used to do. And I think we can also see how, in response, we seem to just be finding new ways to still control the smaller universes in our homes.
But, I pray that we all begin to truly see that there is a God who knows more than we do, who has so much better control over outcomes than we do, and who can lead us to so much more than we can imagine if we just let go a little. There is so much growth to be had if we just surrendered this period of uncertainty to the One who knows what He wants to do with it.
Friends, I guarantee you, He is interested in more than you rearranging your closets.
He's interested in you rearranging your perspective.
So, what do we do?
First, we need to acknowledge our need for control and the ways we may be orchestrating control (Hello, my name is Rachel and I like control). And then, we need to pray. We need to use this time to prayerfully settle into someone else controlling our lives and ask God for His direction (Hello, my name is Rachel and I love the Lord with everything I've got and I truly believe His ways are better and I submit to Him for direction of my days and my life). And as we are learning to let go, study the amazing things that happen in a life when God takes control. Learn about His trustworthy character and how His control over your life is so much better than your control. Read of His grace and love and might in people's lives and how He produces amazing things in circumstances that we, as humans, would have never chosen:
Is it hard?
Absolutely. It will always be hard for our flesh.
But is it amazing?
Oh, yeah. In fact, it's more than we can even imagine, ask, or request in our wildest dreams! (Ephesians 3:20, MSG).
Friends, use this time to grow in comfort with uncertainty and surrender it all to Him. It's not easy, I know. We spend a lot of time ordering our days. But what if we didn't take responsibility for ordering them? What if we let God order our steps (Proverbs 16:9; Psalm 37:23) and tell us what we're going to do in each day and with our lives?
I think we'd find ourselves smack dab in abundance. And, I think we would find that by losing control to the One who can do all things, we actually find everything we have been looking for.