As I have mentioned many times before, I am reading and at times, re-reading Eat, Pray, Love. There are so many pages in this book where I have found clues to me. I can't explain it. But God is talking to me through this book. For this post, let me borrow a story from the book, while Liz is in India finding her spiritual self:
"But now Swamiji was in my dream, standing beside me on the beach in all his power. I was terrified. He pointed to the approaching waves and said sternly, 'I want you to figure out a way to stop THAT from happening.' Panicked, I whipped out a notebook and tried to draw inventions that would stop the ocean waves from advancing. I drew massive seawalls and canals and dams. All my designs were so stupid and pointless, though. I knew I was out of my league here (I'm not an engineer!) but could feel Swamiji watching me, impatient and judgmental. Finally I gave up. None of my inventions were clever or strong enough to keep those waves from breaking.
That's when I heard Swamiji laugh. I looked up at this tiny Indian man in his orange robes, and he was veritably busting a gut with laughter, bent over double in delight, wiping mirthful tears from his eyes.
'Tell me, dear one,' he said, and he pointed out toward the colossal, powerful, endless, rocking ocean. 'Tell me, if you would be so kind-how exactly were YOU planning on stopping THAT?' "
Wow. Sometimes we actually think it is in our power to control things as only God can. We try to manage everything. We manipulate, plan, change, rotate, lay awake at night, thinking that we have the power to manage our circumstances.
Well, I don't know about you but it is quite a relief to me to realize that I don't have the power. That the opportunities, missed and taken, the failures and heartaches are all part of the waves of life. They roll over us some days and it feels cool, cleansing and refreshing. Other days, it is rough and knocks us over as dangerous logs toss about like toothpicks. We crash onto the shore completely out of breath and spitting out saltwater, tangled in seaweed.
I think the sooner we realize that much of life comes like those waves, the better prepared we can be. Like tests of strength and courage, we are challenged to respond to the waves with our best effort. But no matter what, the waves keep rolling in. It's our response that matters.
We can't stop the waves. We can respond to them. It is futile to try to stop the waves. But we can prepare for the weather, wind, sun, and rain, taking one wave at a time. Buy some sunscreen. Maybe learn to surf or sea-doo. Take swim lessons. Put on a lifejacket.
Or maybe just enjoy the view.
Dear God, The more I realize that I can't control life but I can control my responses, the more empowered I feel. I can smile through the rough times and sing praises in the good times, knowing that at all times You are with me. You have the power to say to the waves, "Peace, be still." And the waves must obey. Thank you, God, for the blessings in my life. May I always be mindful of the provision You have made for me. Amen.