a different kind of resistance
Updated: Dec 2, 2019
When I understand that everything happening to me is to make me more Christlike, it resolves a great deal of anxiety. ― A.W. Tozer
If you're a regular blog reader, you know I've written about “resistance” in the form of procrastination (i.e. not doing things you know you should do), but today I want to write about resistance in the form of not doing things you want to do. Or, put another way: The resistance to letting God be God, which is something I’ve been struggling with lately.
For those who are new, here’s a quick snapshot of my life at the moment:
I’m married to the best man I know, I have a toddler, and I’m currently six months pregnant (another girl!)
I used to work in academia (mostly as a writing instructor, among other similar roles), but I left that behind to focus on motherhood and writing full-time.
I recently finished my first novel, signed with a literary agency, and am now in the very beginning stages of approaching editors and publishers. I’ve started my second novel, I blog here at Viva La Joy, I’m the Editor of Staseos, and I have a podcast.
I’m a Christian. That is the life-saving core of my identity despite my best efforts to downplay it or disregard it at different times in my life. My thoughts about God permeate everything I think, say, read, and write.
I have a strange myriad of interests, such as: romance novels, mixed marital arts, kickboxing, Rocky Balboa quotes, interior decorating, and politics, to name a few.
On any given day, my goals are to read four chapters of the Bible, spend quality time with my husband and child (as well as other family members and friends), learn something new, exercise, write a thousand words in my novel manuscript, write five hundred words for articles, encourage my growing audience, keep our home relatively peaceful, manage a budget, prep meals, get enough sleep, and not stand for too long to avoid swollen feet.
I live a beautiful life and an extremely easy one compared to many people around the world. It’s much better than anything I dreamed up when I was younger. But it is very full, very unpredictable, and very unstructured, and that unstructured part is the hardest part for my personality. I love making plans, and I absolutely hate when they are derailed.
To illustrate: Last night I determined I would wake up at 5:45 a.m. and knock out my writing first thing so that I could spend the rest of holiday weekend fully present with Jeff and Vivian. That plan dissolved when Vivian started screaming around 3 a.m., joined us in our bed, then preceded to do everything she could possibly think of to stay awake.
As I glanced at my phone screen, my frustration and anger grew. A precious hour of sleep lost. Then another. My voice grew harsher as I asked her to sleep for the thirtieth time. Then my mind wandered to the not-so-distant future, when we’ll have two small children. How much sleep will I get then? Will I be perpetually exhausted and frustrated and behind on everything? How much time would be lost, then?
Time lost. Time wasted…a frequent refrain in the back of my mind. A wrong refrain.
And a dangerous one.
I’ve been reading this book slowly and intentionally over the last few months, and it’s been a mixed experience. Sometimes I enjoy it. Sometimes I don’t. Mostly, I feel unsettled by it, which I’ve realized is a good thing. The author frequently asks readers to consider the “settled” condition of their thoughts, and some of mine clearly need to be unsettled.
My real revelation came last week as I walking on the treadmill and started to have painful contractions at twenty-six weeks. Thankfully, I didn’t fully realize what was happening or I would’ve probably panicked before I left the gym. Over the phone, my OB told me to sit down, stop moving, and drink water.
“For how long?” I asked, already thinking about the long stretch of day ahead and my beloved to-do list.
“For the rest of the day, if you can. We need those contractions to stop.”
It was just Vivian and me, and she was in no mood to rest, but I followed the doctor’s orders and sat while V alternated between eating popcorn and gleefully scattering it around the living room. She also sweetly kissed my belly a few times and said, “Mama otay” while we waited for Jeff to come home for lunch.
Like I said, I really don’t like derailed plans. I also don’t like messes (especially wet popcorn particles in the carpet). And I honestly don’t like relying on other people to help me because their lives are often as unpredictable as mine. All of those things can easily put me in a resentful mood.
But as I sat there “wasting time,” God reminded me that I don’t always have to do what I want to do. Instead, I need to let God be God and trust that He is good and that His goodness is settled. Even when I have to have energy-depleting conversations. Even when pregnancy hormones rage. Even when deadlines and potential rejections loom on the horizon. Even when I encounter hostile foes on the internet and in real life.
Even when I don’t get to do what I want to do.
I can stop worrying about the work I need to do and embrace the work of learning how to let my will conform to His in the midst of imperfect circumstances. Please don’t misunderstand me, though. This isn’t a call for laziness or passivity. “Letting God be God” doesn't mean just listlessly sitting by and hoping my novels and articles write themselves or that other important tasks get taken care of without any kind of planning on my part. It simply means accepting the small challenges of life and not resenting them. That is His will for me.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
It is unsettling sometimes, but there is no better way to live.