Wednesday, October 28, 2009

hand off

Control freak confession #17: Lately I am realising that my style of leadership/friendship is sometimes too heavy-handed. I see things, I know things, I have some life experience and wisdom, of that there is no doubt. But does that give me the right or responsibility to try to steer other people's lives? I am beginning to think not. Trying to actively guide others has felt like the responsible and loving thing to do, but in truth, it primarily satisfies my sense of well-being when we are all going the same direction (MINE) and involved in the same things (WHAT I THINK IS IMPORTANT) and helps me feel successful. God is just not that one-dimensional nor that boring. Unity is not stuffing all the working parts into the same box and dragging them behind me. It is much more beautiful and strange than that.

Control is like my hand grabbing onto someone or something that I love, trying to keep them or it in line with my idea of godliness, and today I feel God prying my fingers off, one at a time. First, he loosens my index finger. This is the digit that I use to point out things that are wrong in a situation, wrong in someone's life, wrong about how people relate to God and how they are missing the mark. Apparently, this is not my job. The Holy Spirit convicts and God's kindness leads to repentance. His love is a wooing love. Sigh. One less thing I need to do, I guess.

Then he pulls my middle finger away from steering wheel of my life and my friends and my church family and my occupations. This is the finger that does two things: it is the strongest one in holding onto things and not letting go, but it is also the fastest one to lose patience in the middle of conflict and tell everyone to f*** off. It knows no middle ground. It is the place I dig in my stubborn heels and insist that we are going to see this thing through (tunnel vision), especially the way I intend it to go, or I get disgusted and disappointed and flip everyone off, threatening to walk away. Neither are all that useful. God's patience is as longsuffering as his mercy. His mercy comes in an open hand, not pushy or threatening.

Then the next two fingers come off together. They are the co-dependent ones, not able to do anything without the influence of the other. They are looking for support and affirmation and someone to do life with, but in an unhealthy way, always looking for their cue from someone else, lacking confidence to act bravely and selflessly. Jesus is my bravery.

Last to be coaxed out of this controlling grip is the thumb. It is the opposing finger. It always sees the alternate view. It says, "No," before it knows why, just because there is surely something that won't work about what is proposed. It doesn't like to be told what to do, and hates not being the one with the final say. It believes it is there to provide a necessary check and balance, but in reality, it doesn't work all that well with anyone; it just pushes against everything instead of cooperating and providing support. It knows how to make a fist, too, and really has little concept of what its intended position is. God knows how to cradle someone softly, or how to enclose them in the safety of his hand.

This is my hand on my life. This is my hand on the church community I am trying to serve. This is my hand on my friends. This is my hand on my family and my possessions. This is my hand on my job, my school, my cat, my household, and my soul. But then the kind driving instructor comes along and now we are learning a new way to journey. Hands off is not for the faint of heart. Brake off. Heart engaged. Surrender is the most courageous and effective thing I will do all day.

This is me and my hands a few years ago in my office. Hey, Matte, it's not that scary.

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