An Unexpected Obstacle

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by Isabelle Sullivan

This has certainly been an interesting year for me. As  a tasked oriented women who likes to get things done, I pride myself  on giving 110% to whatever project I am working on. Usually, that means I am in charge of getting things done that make other people’s lives easier (laundry, dinner, Gusher* schedules) or creates a grand experience for them (vacations, mission trips, balloon festivals). It gives me immense joy to make other people happy.

I like being in control. Growing up I was an only child. Other than my parents, it was just me deciding what and when to do things. Just me to get things done around the house. My dad would say “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” As I grew up, I got very good at organizing and planning things. I am wired for details and thinking them through. These gifts allowed me to be in control of events, plans and other tasks. Through trial and error, I got better and better at getting things done, which in turn gave me more control on so many levels. That being said, it can be difficult for me to delegate responsibilities. There are many reasons I have this problem. Sometimes it’s because I can get things done faster myself, or I don’t have the right words to explain what I am visioning. I also know that I have issues trusting people to get done what they say they will get done and worst of all I like things done my way.  As Janet Jackson used to sing, “Control - I like to have a lot”. I have a very high expectation for myself, others and  well…everything. I dream BIG and I work hard. If you can’t go big with me then I will just do it by myself.

Hey, don’t judge me.  I am not perfect and God is still working on me. It takes a long time to undo forty six years of being in control and learning to trust and play well with others.  Don’t get me wrong, I am great when working with people that “get my vision”, give 110% or have even better ideas than mine. It’s just that giving up control and trusting others are huge obstacles for me. There is no better thrill than a team that gets things done well! All jokes aside, 2018 forced me to really work on my delegation skills, trust issues and most importantly remembering that I am NOT in control. In 2018, I had five bronchitis and two pneumonias all within a six month time frame. It was awful! I was beyond frustrated. The doctor’s weren’t quite sure why I kept getting sick or why my body was taking forever to recuperate. It was a wait and see approach as the doctors tired to see how they could get me well again.

During that six month time frame I worked from home ALOT. I slept ALOT. I cried ALOT. I would work at my computer from my bed, then take two hour naps, and then get up to try to do some more work. This church was amazingly supportive during that time period. Folks stepped up to help me get things done when I physically could not. As you can imagine for someone who is tasked oriented, sitting in bed thinking of the hundred things that needed to get done at home and at work was overwhelming on some days. I would cry and selfishly pray, why me? Why aren't you making me better? Why can’t I stay well? Why are you sidelining me? As if God was doing this on purpose. Halfway through those six months,  I really started to focus on three key scriptures that helped me come out of the darkness of self-pity and into the light of positivity.

The first scripture was Psalm 46:10 - Be still and Know I am God. I hate being still. So, first I had to get comfortable with this idea of stillness. God wants me to be still, why? Oh, that’s right because I am not in control here and I need to stop trying to figure everything out myself. I need to be still and know that God’s got this. Although it took several weeks, I finally began to have peace with being still. I began to pray that if I had to be sick, that God would show me how to get done what He felt needed to get done and how to let go of the hundred other things swirling around in my mind. This was a difficult task that took months to get used to as my brain would slip right back into task mode. Then, I would have to stop, regroup and get comfortable in the stillness.

The second scripture that helped me work on my obstacles of control, delegation and trust was Isaiah 41:10 - “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” This is my favorite book in the Bible. Isaiah is filled with lots of great wisdom. During my six months of sickness I got discouraged often. I would remember this verse and ask God to give me peace that everything was going to be ok (with me, my family and at church), patience as I waited for everything to be ok and the ability to let somethings go. So what if my delicates got washed in hot water, at least they got cleaned. It’s ok that only two Gushers signed up for the nine o’clock service, at least all the essential duties will be taken care of. Our house had dust bunnies in every corner but it was ok because I had a warm bed and roof over my head with family that loves me.

The last scripture is one that will be an ongoing work in progress for me. It’s Matthew 6:34. It says - “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” It’s the reminder that I need to remember that I can not physically fix, do or solve everything. I can only do what is in front of me today. Although I will always be an planner, I take comfort in knowing that my heavenly Father does not expect or want me to solve everything. In fact, He wants me to rely on Him and not myself to get things done. He doesn't  want me to hog all the blessings by controlling how everything is done. God put me here to be with my family to support them and love on them so that I can help guide their journeys as they figure out how to be the best version of themselves. That is why God put me in ministry too! I am to help others see and feel God. I have to remember to help love and guide the journeys of those around me too. Even if that means that things aren’t done my way (because I am not in control), done as I had hoped (because I am not paralyzed by perfection nor am I perfect) or if someone let’s me down (everyone makes mistakes, give grace). I still have to work on trusting that God’s got this. In 2019, I plan on continuing to be intentionally listening and learning from God and working hard to do my part in being a better servant of God. Happy New Years everyone!

*The meaning of a ‘Gusher’ is a combined version of the words ‘ushers’ and ‘greeters’.