Yesterday I was in yoga class and had a great practice. I’ve recently started working out again, and this class was more physically challenging than the classes I have attempted in recent weeks. My practice certainly is not the same as it was 15 years ago and neither is my body. I’ve had a child and a few injuries since then, and I’m not quite as agile, but I do okay. As I was rolling up my mat to leave, feeling very satisfied, I heard the teacher and a student discussing what a “beautiful practice” a particular student had. Enter my ego. My satisfaction with my great practice suddenly disappeared and turned into something that looked a little bit like envy. I thought to myself, “well, I used to have a beautiful practice, and I will again!” Just as I got in the car to leave and turned on the radio, a DJ read a quote about spiritual growth. “When your ego goes away, that’s when growth happens.” Ouch. Okay God. Message received.
I am learning that part of being content is letting go of certain expectations or what I think I deserve to have in life that might lead to happiness. What about you? What if time were frozen in this very moment? Could you be happy with your life without anything changing? If the answer is no, then perhaps you wouldn’t be content even if your check list was completed.
I think the problem is our list, these things that we think we must have, can become idols in our lives. We can become so focused on having a perfect body, finding fulfillment in our marriages, desiring perfect children, building a name for ourselves, and making more money that we lose sight of our daily walk with God and forget that he is sovereign. We become distracted.
“Sin … is more fundamentally making good things into ultimate things. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God. Whatever we build our life on will drive us and enslave us. Sin is primarily idolatry.” – Tim Keller
Recognizing when our wants and expectations get out of balance and constantly adjusting our hearts to trust in God no matter what creates space for peace and contentment. Easier said than done; I know. Sometimes it is a moment-by-moment exercise, forget daily.
It’s good to want things and have goals, and I’m not saying that we don’t have the right to be angry, sad or afraid. It is a process, especially when you are caring for a sick loved one, walking through a horrible divorce or you’re broke and searching for employment. The point is to not get stuck there.
In my quiet time yesterday, as I was praying (again) about a situation, I felt the Lord say to me, “you have to be okay if this doesn’t turn out the way you want; you have to let go of this.” Because He is God, and I am not. Because my relationship with God needs to be more important than the outcome. Because shifting to an attitude of thankfulness and surrender — embracing where I am in the present moment is when growth happens.
In her study, Stuck, Jennie Allen says, “Surrender is difficult, but God calls us to it because when we die- die to our hopes for our lives, our need to please everyone, our demands, our fear of failing, our need to promote ourselves, our control, our fear of loss and hardship- we find freedom. He brings life from death…God can do that in us.”
Jeremiah 17:7-8 But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when the heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.
Oh how I aspire to be that tree!
(for more on Jennie Allen’s Stuck study, go to http://www.jennieallen.com/studies/stuck/)