Those three phrases seem like such simple and easy concepts when you see them written down.
I’m the kind of girl who never used to stress. I was incredibly good at letting life take me wherever, trusting that God’s got it covered. I’m the girl who skipped with carefree ease into an art degree with no real job potential because I knew that was my purpose. I merrily jaunted off to Europe by myself multiple times because I found programs that looked exciting. I packed up my Toyota Corolla with all my worldly possessions and moved halfway across the country – twice – with no real job or place to stay.
This was me, and these life adventures brought marvelous opportunities into fruition.
And, then, I married a guy who was kind of the exact opposite. He appreciates well-laid and practical plans. Not only that, but he is also three quarters of the way through a really tough, really stressful academic program (that’ll end with a great paycheck, but also a massive loan).
I’ve always had this idea of what marriage would be like and, more specifically, what the first two years of our marriage would look like with my husband as a full-time student. Me, working to support us; school breaks being used for fun trips and outings; lots of studying intermixed with casual relaxation… we had it all planned out.
And then the program got tougher and the stress got heavier, and suddenly, I was being asked to please let go and trust God.
Let go. Find joy in different ways.
Be understanding that school breaks needed to be real breaks to catch up on mental exhaustion. Be understanding that hours of video gaming was a way for my husband to mentally chill out and excursions all around the city just…weren’t.
Most of my life, I associated “trusting God and letting go” with the ability to fling off stress casually and still doing all the awesome things I wanted to do. My stress back then came from wondering whether the crazy plans I was convinced I was supposed to do would actually work.
Somehow…unbelievably…they always did. I’d let go… and then everything would fall into place. It would be a God moment. But when your life is suddenly intertwined with another person’s – and you have conflicting ideas on how to best handle certain situations – this won’t always be the case.
I feel like a bit of an idiot typing that out and realizing that – for one of the first, real times in my life – I’m really really having to let go of my own plans. And not even because there’s no way for them to work out – because there is! – but more because it’s what’s best for my spouse right now.
I’m struggling with how to do this, though. How to just stop and say: “Okay, God – I get it, I need to let go of this right now and not just accept, but find joy in your plans. Even though my plans seriously sound way cooler.”
“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you,” reads 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Giving thanks in all circumstances can be a tough drink to swallow. And joy. Oh, joy. Not happiness, just joy; a state of mind so much deeper and more fulfilling than happiness, which is fleeting and temperamental and totally dependent on emotions. Joy, however, is a choice. A willingness to embrace and welcome God’s plan, come whatever. It’s learning that, “…in whatever state I am, to be content.” (Philippians 4:11)
This elusive talent of being content exasperates me at times, but I try. I find focusing more on God and less on me by not letting myself skip devotional time (even though sometimes I’m really tempted) is a huge help. I also sometimes have to force myself not to spend time obsessing over what I’d rather be doing. Sometimes this means delving into a new project, other times it means spending less time on Instagram and Facebook, where envy can easily rear its ugly head. But most of all, it’s grabbing at the small things in life: finding joy in the nitty gritty aspects of my day, rather than constantly looking ahead.
Giedre is a portrait photographer & blogger based out of Chicago, Illinois. She carries a canon, shoots obsessively, and always writes about it afterwards. Connect with her at Walking Dot Photography.