Updated: Sep 6, 2019
When I was a child, I thought like a child. How I miss that sometimes! There was something about that childish thinking that was free. I believed I was limitless. Call it a wild imagination or too many Disney movies, but I was convinced something magical was going to happen in my life. Surely, I had a fairy godmother out there who I’d meet just when I needed her! Or maybe one night, a pixie would come sprinkle fairy dust on my head so I could fly! Oh, how I wanted to fly!! For many years, I thought that if I just believed hard enough, anything was possible.
To this day, I can picture the dark brown knotty pine coffee table that resided in my childhood home. It was solid and heavy and hazardous! The corners may as well have had shards of glass sticking out of them as much as they screamed “injury”! In hindsight, I don’t know if the table was hazardous as much as us kids were reckless. At any rate, whether redecorating the living room or one too many bruises appearing, the coffee table eventually disappeared but not before I used it as my tester. I told you I wanted to fly, right? So much! I used to dream of it. It felt so free, I imagined. I would even pray and ask God to give me the ability to fly! Many times, I would position myself on top of that solid wooden launching pad, believe with everything in me, and jump! I tried flapping my arms, closing my eyes, anything I could think of! (Not gonna lie... sharing this with you makes me feel a little weird but stick with me).
In addition to flying, there was another thing I really wanted to do from an early age— I wanted to change the world. I know! Lofty, right? I told you— Limitless!! At some point I realized a lot of people in the world were not happy and I wanted to fix that! I wasn’t a perfect child (by far) and every day wasn’t a good day, but I made it my mission to smile, talk to strangers (my mom loved that one), hold doors open, let people in front of me in line and anything I could find the opportunity to do to brighten someone’s day. I thought maybe if I impacted every person I encountered, it would have a ripple effect and I could singlehandedly change the world. It was certainly worth a try!
As you can imagine, no matter how hard I tried, the flying thing never panned out. And as life experiences would begin to hit me, I’d start to question whether changing the world was possible. My hope began to dwindle. Believing, wishing, hoping, praying and trying to fly didn’t make me fly, so surely effecting an entire planet with my smiles and door-holding was childish thinking. With both dreams lost, I decided it was safer, took less energy and involved much less disappointment to stay in my corner and just worry about me.
Has life gotten you to that place? Has hope deferred caused you to shrink back into a corner? We all have a different journey. We have all walked a unique path and endured some traumatic things. If I were to gather just a handful of my closest friends to sit around and transparently share stories of our survival, it would only take a few minutes (maybe seconds) before we’d all be in tears. I bet your circle would be the same. Although each trial we face is purposeful (I encourage you not to waste your pain, but find its purpose), we’ve got to be very careful to not let the storm on the outside get to us on the inside. A ship only goes down when the water penetrates the structure of the vessel. See, my nature is to plug every hole so a capsize doesn’t occur. I want to repair what is broken. I want to clear up a miscommunication between people that has shattered a relationship. I want to adjust a process, so it stops failing and becomes more effective. I want to help people, so life isn’t so difficult for them! And sometimes I can. But sometimes I can’t. And when I can’t, I have to trust God. I can trust God, or I can go crazy! Those are my choices and those are your choices.
One day, God gave me this scripture— “Trust in the Lord and do good...” (Psalm 37:3). Trust in the Lord. Do good. God said to me, “Shelby, you’re doing too much. You’re thinking too hard! While I understand you are only trying to fix what you feel is broken, this time, it’s not for you to fix. I’ve got this. This has purpose. This is a tool I’m using. Trust me. And in the meantime, do good. You’ve gotten so immersed in fixing this, you’ve forfeited the time, energy and focus it takes to do what I called you to as a little girl— do good.” Whoa! Okay, God! I heard Him loud and clear and He was right! In that moment, the weight of having to change the circumstance I was facing was lifted. The urgency I felt to control the outcome of that thing subsided. My brow unfurrowed. I smiled in a room all by myself. And I was ready! I was ready to let God be God again. I hadn’t meant to dethrone Him. In my passion to fix, I unknowingly crossed a line and tried to do God’s job.
There is a difference between childlike faith and childish thinking. Believing you can fly is childish thinking. Believing you can be a change agent on this earth is childlike faith (and you can be that!). I want to challenge you to believe God for what you imagined before life stripped you of your innocence. Just be sure to let God be God in the process. Recognize when He’s calling you to shift something and when He’s calling you to trust in Him to handle it (this is called discernment). You’ve got to ask yourself, “Am I doin' too much?” Are you pursuing your purpose with passion or passing the perimeters of power? Are you in your lane or God’s? If you’ve been trying and trying and trying and nothing you do seems to change the situation, maybe it’s because God is trying to use the situation to change you. This may be the season to just trust in Him. It’s scary to release control, I know, but the relief that comes from not having to figure it all out is well worth it. And when you don’t have to spend your time fixing everything, you’ll have a whole lot more energy to do good!