Three Things We CAN Do When We Feel Helpless

I have been going outside as many times a day as I can. I walk. I breathe the air and I look for life. I look for beauty. I look for hope and promise. On each walk in the last week I am continually reminded of all that I cannot control, all that I feel helpless to help, all that I cannot do to change any of the things I hope change. 

I find my spirit recognizing my own limitations, my own smallness, my own capabilities. And not all in a depressing, pity party sort of a way. As I walk I talk. I feel humility and truth, groundedness and a re-centering coming over me. I almost feel as though God is getting straight with me and as He does, I feel fully human. And when we feel fully human, we are reminded of the limitations of the human condition. 

  • I cannot tell the tide to go out when I want to hunt for sand dollars. 
  • I cannot fly like the eagle to get where I want to go. 
  • I cannot even swim to the farthest reaches of the horizon before me. 
  • I cannot see what’s happening in the island forest trees out yonder. 
  • I cannot choose the hues for the sunset sky.
  • I cannot make the whale do its magic tricks again.
  • I cannot even make my neighbor smile. 
  • I cannot promise the kids things will be the same. 

There are so many things I feel helpless to do, change, fix or make happen. Maybe you feel that way too. I am realizing that while feeling helpless there are 3 things you and I can do.

We can surrender to destiny.

We can allow our spirits to surrender to the way in which this will all go. We can decide that we will let the wind of change take us where we are meant to be. We can let go of trying to stop what we have no power to stop. We can fall under the supposition that we will rise back up at just the place we are supposed to. We can believe in destiny. We can surrender to a God and a God’s plan, trusting that how this plays out will leave us as we are supposed to be. 

We can surrender to being refined.

We can allow our newfound lack of freedom, our newfound lack of options, our newfound way of life as an opportunity for God to mold us, make us, and shape us. We can allow God to strengthen our character and reveal our tendencies to numb and escape. We can allow God to show us the false posers that we thought gave us peace. They were faking it. We can use this time to bond with our people, forming a connection that will never be broken. We can allow God to break us of our pride, break us of our strongholds, break us of what we took for granted. We can allow God to strip us and reclothe us in what we should be wearing. We can allow God to show us how we turn to taking care of ourselves first before our neighbor and let that sink in. There’s a lot of things we cannot do. But allowing God to refine us in this time – that we can do. 

If we fight being refined, it will make this all the more difficult. We won’t win. We can’t change what God wants to do in us any more than we can make this whole thing go away. We can’t fight the character God wants to form in us any more than we can fight keeping loved ones from getting sick. We can’t fight the transformation that needs to take place in our hearts and actually find victory anymore than we can fight to fast forward what is and what is to come. 

We can surrender to choosing joy.

My joy and yours have been dependent for way too long on things that don’t last and things that aren’t promised. We grab joy from monetary security. We manufacture temporary joy from things we assume will always be, but are not actually promised.. Our joy is often dependent on other people, on entertainment, on instant gratification, on online shopping, on a false sense of security, on job status. 

My joy has been dependent on the things that Jesus has always warned us are passing through. When the rich man had silos of grain, Jesus warned him how nonsensical it was to store up for himself riches when his life would be taken from him that very night. 

And wasn’t it Jesus who healed ten lepers and one came back to thank him and Jesus was stunned?  He asked “Where are the other 9?” Jesus has always spoken to us about our tendency to take good things for granted and walk off into the sunset…until those good things are gone. Then we march right back to God and demand in anger and helplessness for the good to return. 

Wasn’t it Jesus who called out Martha because she was living a life so preoccupied with pleasing everyone and having everything look perfect and being the hostess with the mostest? And He said to her  “You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.” I wonder if Jesus has been looking at our lives and witnessing all the things we have been worried about upholding and I just wonder if He might be suggesting that few things are needed… In fact, only one. And if only few things are needed, might it be that joy is possible with little? Is it possible that joy can be had even in the midst of loss, even in the midst of being stripped, even in the midst of financial insecurity, even in the midst of bankruptcy, even if our job status is unemployed?  

  • I have come to a place where I recognize that I can choose joy no matter how hard this gets on me and my family. We are already experiencing loss and grief and worry and threat. So I have decided…
  • I can choose to go on a walk along the shore and look at the rocks in every color. They will tide me over until the sand dollars are next exposed. 
  • I can look for the sparrow that reminds me that if God takes care of them, will He not also take care of me?  
  • I can watch the eagle soar and I can be reminded of Isaiah 40:31 that says “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” 
  • I can walk the shore of the beach and I can look out at the horizon that I cannot swim to, and I can feel so, so small and ask the Lord of the Universe “Who am I that you are mindful of me?” And He whispers back all the ways.
  • I can sit in awe at the sunsets. They are free and they show up. Every. Single. Night. 
  • I can look for the whale and hope she comes out again soon and be grateful she ever did.
  • I can’t promise my kids how things will be, but I can promise they will experience joy every day they are with me. 
  • I can walk by every neighbor I see and I can smile even if they don’t smile back at me.
  • There are so many things we cannot do, but you and I…
  • We can surrender to destiny. 
  • We can surrender to be refined. 
  • And we can surrender to choose joy.

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