When Life is Out of Our ControlI’m an organizer.

I like shopping for school supplies. I keep my work desk clear, files sorted and labeled.

This is a helpful trait most of the time. I keep our hectic family calendar orderly and flowing. If you need an event planned, I’m your girl.  I see the big picture and fill in the details, too.

There’s a downside to all of this, though. The reality is that behind all the positives, those of us who are the organizers of the world find safety in our systems. Take away our color-coded calendars and we start to get nervous. Life feels too free-flowing without the outside borders.

The truth?

I’m a controller.

This last year has brought a number of uncertainties to our family. Job unknowns. Children with serious behavior issues. Parents with medical issues. Teenagers making decisions for the future. Perhaps you are dealing with similar issues in your life. For those of us who value control, the stress of these out-of-control situations feels suffocating at times, doesn’t it?

Here is what I’ve learned:

God created me as I am. I need to allow Him to do His work to soften the edges.

God created me to be organized, efficient, and with leadership capabilities. None of that needs to change. What a tragedy that would be! What does need to happen, though, is I need to allow God to use these difficult circumstances to mold me to be more of who He wants me to be.

This last week I flew to Illinois to help care for my mom, who is recovering from surgery, and her husband. My travel that day was the ultimate example of what can go wrong. My first flight was averted due to a storm, which caused me to miss my second flight. There wasn’t room on another so I was flown to another city. My credit card was compromised and the account had to be shut down. My luggage didn’t arrive.

During my final flight, I looked out the window to this.

Flight view to IL

View out my window flying to Illinois

As I saw this glorious sunset, with the eye-level view out my window, I thought of Psalm 30:

I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up
    and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
    and you have healed me.
O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;
    you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,
    and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment,
    and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm 30:1-5

When my brother came to pick me up, he commented, “You seem amazingly calm on this trip, all considering. Where are your detailed plans?”

I’m challenging us — the next time a stressful situation comes up, let’s STOP. Let’s pray. Let’s soften our edges. If we would normally rush in to organize and do, what is God calling us to do instead? If we normally freeze up in the face of stress, we might be called to action. We might be called to interaction if we tend to withdraw and be solitary. We might be called to allow others to help us, if we normally try to go it alone. Let’s trust that God will guide us.

Now for another important question. Do you think God will let me keep my color-coded file folders?

How do you react when you are faced with a stressful situation? Do you get more organized? Freeze? Withdraw? How do you think God is calling you to soften your edges?