Continued from Part 1 last week….
From my earliest experiences with control as a teenager and young adult, I had mistakenly come to believe that I could balance my attempts at control in the face of God’s plans and come out on the winning end of things.
It wasn’t until I experienced my first setbacks in my search for my birthparents and my birth records that I finally felt the rub between my attempts at control and God’s perfect control.
Although contributing ten years of my life to searching for my birth family was a huge drain on me emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, I wouldn’t change a minute of the 5,256,000 of them in it.
Because, although I began the search process in the hopes of finding something out about my birth family and setting them free from guilt and pain, that search was, in reality, actually about finding out who I am, who God is, and letting go of my deep-rooted control issues were a huge part of the learning process.
It’s a frustrating thing, living life and not always getting what you want, not having life go the way that you plan for it to, isn’t it?
Yet we live in a world that communicates that if you just try harder, if you just have more money, more stuff, you will feel fulfilled and your life will be grand.
For over ten years of my life, I experienced the frustration that came from making little to no progress in locating my biological family and setting them, and myself free.
It wasn’t until I reached the end of myself, and really, the end of my attempts to make all of this happen, that I not only understood God in His truest self, but I also recognized how my attempts at control were doing nothing but exhausting me and holding Him back from fulfilling His promises.
“How did you know come to recognize this,” is a question that I often face. The abridged answer: two things. First of all, I came to realize that trying things my way often led to me smacking my head against the brick wall, so to speak.
Despite the fact that I researched how to find my biological family and how to obtain my records long before I started on that journey, despite the fact that I did anything and everything that was suggested by professionals and other adoptees alike to accomplish these tasks, time and time again, I found myself at the same spot in my search process and in my journey. I felt like I was smacking my head against the brick wall. What I was doing was not accomplishing anything except inducing frustration and wiping me out physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
What I discovered staring at that brick wall time and time again is that it leaves you nowhere to look but up.
Whenever I looked up and turned to God, instead of a hard, windowless wall, what I found was a door that opened ever-so-slightly. Over time, God threw the doors open wide in ways that only He can do (someone candidly remarked the other day that God has really shown off in my life—I love that and I love that about Him, that He shows off in all of our lives), but in those first few years, as I was stretching in my life, He was careful to open the door just wide enough to give me the information that was safe and necessary for me at the time, and just enough to engage with me to further trust Him and give up my control.
God loves each of us so very much that He never gives us more than we can handle, and He knows exactly how to help us grow in our faith and our abilities!
Hitting my head against the proverbial brick wall, looking up to find Him, and keeping my eyes, ears, heart and mind fixed on what He was doing and how He was speaking into my life helped me loosen the death grip that I had held on my life for so long.
They say that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and I find that to be so true, especially when it comes to the journey of overcoming. Despite the fears that I had held for years about letting go of my personal control, once I took that first step, all I had to do was then take another and then another.
And as I took each step, as I loosened each finger from my clenched fist, God always delivered.
Time and time again, He showed me something new, He led the way to the next step, He encouraged me to continue on in my journey, thereby shaping my behavior from a simple experiment of learning to let go to living a life where He is in control and I am gleefully along for the ride.
“What’s next for Melissa Ohden?” was the final question of a radio interview that I recently did. Not one to typically struggle with my words, I had to pause to put what I feel in my heart into my mouth. “What’s next? Whatever it is that God is calling me to do…Everyday is different. From one day to the next, I never know where He is going to send me or what He’s going to ask for me to do. Right now, I’m just content to be working on writing projects, speaking, and The Abortion Survivors Network.”
What a far cry these words are from the words I would have spoken ten years ago!
If you would have asked me then what I planned to do with my life, I would have given you a list of my short-term, long-term and not to be seen as a slacker, a smattering of intermediate goals.
If you would have listened, I would have also given you a list of steps that I was currently taking and planned to take in the future to reach them. It’s not to say that I don’t have goals and steps in my life anymore, but those goals and steps certainly look and sound dramatically different in my life now.
I have dreams, I have goals, I’m still a planner, but I’m transformed. I am full of peace and joy with who I am, what He has and will continue to call me to do, and what I can do through and for Him.
I no longer worry myself about next week, next month, or next year, but I seek His guidance and wisdom about what those days ahead will look like and what I should do within them.
Do I sometimes still worry about things? Sure, although the magnitude and frequency of those worries pale in comparison to the past.
What once were worries about achieving my next big goal are now worries like “Am I doing exactly what it is that He’s asking right now? Is this new project that I’m considering to undertake His will?”
From learning to let go of the control in the search for my biological parents and birth records, to freely letting go of my career plans, our finances, and everything in between, I have been greatly blessed these past ten years of journeying to be transformed from a woman full of fear about my past and fear about my future, to a woman who loves and appreciates the freedom that God being in control and me accepting this brings.
My journey from hands clenched tightly in order to grasp control over my life to palms held open wide and high inviting God in, and in praise for His plans, His ultimate control, was not easy, but I believe that it was necessary.
God knew that without surrendering my entire life to His will, without trusting entirely on Him, my transformation into the woman that I am today, the servant that I am today, would not be complete.
And He knew that through my own experiences with this, I would be poised to support and encourage others.
As my Father, I can only imagine how difficult it was for Him to see me struggle with this, but I trust that seeing me progress in this area of my life has now brought Him great joy!
I pray that you have the opportunity to not only speak the words, “Let go and let God,” but that you also invite Him into your life so that you can LIVE these words.
As my own life has shown, living them brings great peace, joy and abundant blessings!