A few days ago (maybe a week) I posted about our lives being a house of cards. This week things have been shaken and turned around as the kids were out of school and family visited. I had to change my workout schedule, fitting in exercise when I could find a few minutes. Some meals have been afterthoughts while others are major productions (Easter). We've spent a whole day at home (watching conference), and we've spent most of a day away (Valley Forge). With all of this I sit here thinking about what is upcoming in my life. I have tender feelings with a strength behind them, making me feel that no matter what happens to my house of cards, other things are more certain.
One of those certain things is my ability to choose. Despite horrid things that may happen - earthquakes, floods, termites- I choose what to do in those situations. I have no more control over my daily life than I do those other large horrific scenarios, yet I still carry on each day without cowering in the corner (only for a few minutes anyway). I have power, not because I can control things, but because I control myself.
Making informed choices based on truth and self-control leads to capability. That capability, the ability to make things happen, is a kind of power. Let me give an example - Tonight DH and I watched a CPR video for foster parenting certification. If I were to be in a situation where a child needed CPR I could administer it because I've learned true things about how to help someone who is not breathing and I would make that choice to help despite any initial discomfort about germs or saliva. In that very specific and dramatic situation I would have power, power to sustain or revive life.
Now I'm not saying that makes me god and I'm so great. What I am saying is that yes, there is a lot out of my control (like the need for a child to be resuscitated in the first place), but there is also a lot within my control if I make use of it. If I train my body to submit to my mind (blow into this child's mouth, now gently press on their chest) then my mind and body are prepared to work together to accomplish other things that may initially be uncomfortable, like performing CPR. It applies to loosing weight(not easy, but doable), not yelling at my kids (not easy, still trying), or building a strong marriage (not easy, so worth it). Call this self-reliance, self-control, self-mastery, all the labels apply.
The truth is a large factor here. Having the self-discipline to clean out the garage means nothing if I mistakenly believe that moving all the junk to the other side makes the garage clean. I have to know that cleaning is more than that, the "truth" about what makes something clean. Just like I have to know actual CPR to keep a dying person alive, not just poke and prod at them.
I hope I haven't lost anyone (it is the end of a long day and I'm probably rambling and not coherent). Most people would agree with my ideas about our abilities to control our lives at some level. We have power to choose and to act. The piece that is sometimes missing is how that relates with what God does.
It is tempting to use our power to control too much in our lives. If we want to keep our lives on an even keel, nothing changing, even and controlled, steady as she goes, don't rock the boat, don't topple my house of cards - we could probably do that, and we often try. I don't think that that is necessarily what God wants. He doesn't just rock the boat, he pushes us out of it. Our lives are not about control. I'm saying that again because it is so very important - The purpose of our lives is not to control. We can control ourselves, and that is a part of success and happiness, but not an end in itself.
Getting back into the boat every time God pushes us out of it is not productive. At some point we might want to just swim and find out why God keeps pushing us out.
This was all a very long way for me to say that I trust God. Yes, he's pushed me out of the boat several times. It's my guess that being a foster parent is going to be like getting pushed out of an 8-story cruise ship. I trust him, if he wants me to swim, he'll help me. If I'm swimming it's because he's given me opportunities to learn to swim before and I took advantage of them. It's that initial push off the deck into the water I'm worried about. Really, I'm looking forward to a good swim with hope and optimism. It's a good thing I know CPR though, I might need to perform it on myself.
Tell me you'll be there with a life preserver when I need it.