Change and the Last Page

I’m not a fan of change. When I was five years old I told a family member that I didn’t want to turn six; I had just gotten used to being five. That’s pretty much quintessential me.

I’m also not a fan of suspense, which is an element of change. When novels carry too much suspense and twists and turns I admit I read the last page. Only then can I breathe a sigh of relief, and happily go back to my place in the plot. I just can’t stand not knowing the outcome.

And yet God called me overseas. I can hear Him, and you, sharing a good chuckle over that developmental plot twist now. As we know, moving overseas is all about change. As you prepare for the field, people use the magic word flexibility a lot.

That’s when I knew I was in trouble.

I’m currently getting ready to move again, to another country that is currently closed to people of my vocational persuasion. So besides the stress of change I’m wondering: is He for sure going to pave the way in? Am I preparing for, like, tummy trouble sacrifices or am I preparing for losing my freedom sacrifices?

And, yes, I am a bit of a snob. You may picture adventuring overseas workers as being rough and tumble tomboys who grew up camping out in the bush and now can handle it all with a pocket knife and ball of twine. I, on the other hand, showed up for a jungle trek in leather black high heeled boots once (this made crossing a river on a tree “bridge” a bit difficult, let me tell you), pack Starbucks instant coffee in my carry on, and insist on giving beggar children a good hand sanitization before I hand them food. I know I’m neurotic and a bit strange, okay? So dealing with weird bugs and dirt might actually be as big of a sacrifice for me as, say, going to jail. Just kidding! But I digress.

Change is a hard one for me in the best of circumstances. I want to hold onto that control! I want all my questions answered, now. I want to know the beginning, middle, and end of my story. I do not, above all, want to be or feel or appear weak. Vulnerable. Caught unawares. I must know I am safe, in control, and, above all, on top of it all.

These feelings that change bring can trigger some pretty nasty idols to rear their heads. I struggle with not going back to my eating disorder the most. I don’t sleep, feeling there must be something left to do on my invisible checklist. I begin comparing myself to others–why can I not be as organized as her? Why can’t I be as calm? Why do I have so many damaged, broken bits? It can be easy to fall into a slump of all my sins, failures and weaknesses. I seek to fix myself outside of Him. I seek to be thinner, better, prettier, cooler, calmer, more collected, more strong, more pure.

Doesn’t work. Did you see that coming? I hope you did because if you’re like me, you don’t like plot twists!

And there He finds me. In my shame, trying desperately to pull those garden leaves over my nakedness. I can’t outrun my past. I can’t outrun my flaws, my addictions, my pain. But I also can’t outrun something more important: His vast, unfailing, ever patient love. I simply can’t outrun my God. He keeps finding me, even when I’m building my little carved idols of disorders and masks and control. He keeps walking in the cool of the evening, calling my name, calling me Beloved, until I hear him. And I say — quietly at first, because who wants to admit they need help? Not me! — Here I am.

Then, louder… Here I am, Daddy.

Then, I remember. He is my Heavenly Papa, my Abba Father. I don’t need to be calm and cool and collected for Him. He has enough steadiness for the two of us. I don’t need to be beautiful; He is glorious beauty on His own, and He establishes the work of my hands with His beauty. I don’t need to be holy; He sees Jesus’ holiness when he looks at me anyway, so that covers up all those open sores on my soul. I don’t need to be strong; He gave me a light burden. I don’t need to control everything, because He has already paved out a much, much better path for me. My weakness just shows how patient He is, even with the least of these, which sometimes, frankly, isn’t the little beggar child asking for an apple, but it’s the neurotic girl giving him the apple. I’m the least of these, and He loves even me.

And most of all, I don’t need to control everything, even in this season of change. I don’t need to know where I’m going, or what will happen, or if all my questions will be answered. Because He is holding my hand in His bigger, stronger, lovelier, healthier, firmer one. He is leading me. He will know where we are going, and all I have to do is follow Him.

I follow Him out of the addictive eating disorder I must say no to every day, relying on his strength and beauty. I follow Him out of the mire of false goodness, because I know now only He is good. I follow Him out of anxiety and self angst and hate, relying on His love, because He is love. And most of all, I keep holding onto His hand. I can’t let go of His hand, or the change will be too much for me. But with His hand in mine—then, then I can read through the plot twists without being afraid. Because I know who waits for me on the last page: My Jesus.

What ways do you try to put on a good front for others?

How do you try to control the outcome of your current changes and plot twists?

Is there a small chapter of life you can surrender today, knowing He’s holding your hand?

7 Comments

  1. Patty Stallings May 10, 2017

    Marilyn, I just read this little poem yesterday by Brian Andreas:

    Of course, I want to
    save the world, she said,
    but I was hoping to do it
    from the comfort
    of my regular life.

    I laughed when I read it, but there is certainly an element of truth there, huh?

    Bless you for your courage and obedience – even when you don’t have the full story. I love that you are finding that knowing the last page – Jesus with you – is enough to keep saying yes!

    1. Brittany May 11, 2017

      I love that poem, Patty. Thanks for sharing it!

    2. E. Marilyn White May 14, 2017

      Thanks, Patty! Ha that made me laugh, too. He never keeps us in our regular world, does He? And Praise Him that He doesn’t!

  2. Brittany May 11, 2017

    I realized through a team exercise last week that I like change. I get restless when things stay the same. Yet I struggle with so many of the things you mentioned! For me, I have to be content with the mundane sameness of this season–village life with 3 littles at home all day. I want the next thing because I don’t feel like I can control this thing in front of me. Maybe I can control the next! That’s my delusion.

    1. E. Marilyn White May 14, 2017

      Thank you for pointing this out, I love your perspective Brittany. It can be just as tempting to try to make change when we are called to a season of rest and stillness. I struggle with the same “delusion” of control. 😉 I am not a mother yet, and from my perspective…being at home with 3 littles is one of the biggest, best callings God hands out. You’re inspiring! Happy Mother’s Day!

  3. Katie May 11, 2017

    Thanks for sharing this 🙂 My husband and I are also about 6 weeks away from moving back overseas as a married couple and the unknown plot thickens! I try to take control and be in the know, but we have to move forward in faith, less time erratically planning and more time praying. Laying it down. Trusting. God called us and He will get us there, parting sea’s in the process if he has to. I just need to abide in his love.

    1. E. Marilyn White May 14, 2017

      Amen sister! I love your line– “less time erratically planning, and more time praying.” So true. Let the plot thicken! We have the best Author watching our backs!

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