Perhaps because we are nearing the close of another year or I just got back from visiting the area where I grew up, this past week I have been reflecting a lot on my life, where I have come from and where I am going.
In looking over the past year you could say there has been a pervasive theme in my life and that is learning to just be still and allow God to work things out. I like to think of it as “My journey towards finding true contentment.” I thought contentment and learning to be still was something I mastered a long time ago and never thought this was an issue for me at all, I was just happy as could be Bless God! Until 2014 came along and I realized just how wrong I had been all along. I realized I was trying to manipulate God’s will into my life and push my agenda onto His, when all along He was just saying, “I need you to be still for a while so I can work somethings out.”
God is such a gentleman in how He slowly works on us, one layer at a time. Perhaps we all have a story of how God has worked on us to bring us to a place of contentment, but this is mine and I am sharing it with you today.
Bear with me if this seems to be a little lengthy, but I feel as though I must lay a proper foundation. So allow me to back track a few years…
In January of 2003 at the age of 21, I found out I was expecting a baby (out-of-wedlock) who was going to be born in August. It was as though every fiber in my innermost being knew I needed to shape up and do something with my life or this baby and I weren’t gonna make it too far. Not that I did not have a plan before, but I did not have a clear set of goals of what I really wanted to do with my life.
So when I was 6 months pregnant I moved home after completing my junior year at University of Houston. My dad suggested I go to school to become a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN). Since I was living under my parents roof at the time and they were footing the bill, I felt it in my best interest to go. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. December 3, 2014 marks 10 years since I graduated from the LVN program at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen, Texas. I started LVN school when my daughter was 3 months old, essentially handed her over to my mom and dad to raise for the next year and hit the ground running. It was one of the hardest years of my life, I would never EVER want to repeat it, but I am so glad I went through it.
For the next 5 years, from November of 2003, when I started LVN school, until I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in Nursing in May of 2007, I was in school full-time , working full-time and single mom full-time. Those were some pretty tough, mean and lean years, but by the grace of God and a LOT of sacrifice and help from my parents and others I made it through nursing school.
Since the time of my graduation from the BSN program, it has been my goal to go back to school for my Master’s degree. I tried numerous times to go back to school to complete my Master’s, but it was as though every time I tried, a door was slammed in my face. In the Fall of 2013 I was finally accepted into an online program for Nurse Practitioner to start in January 2014. I finally felt as though my dreams were going to come true! My life was going somewhere, I just knew everything would work out just like I thought it would in my head. (We’ve all been there right?)
However, after a pretty significant melt down one day this past spring right in the midst of my classes where everything in the world seemed to be going wrong, my dad had to have a “Come to Jesus meeting” or a stern talking to, if you will, with me.
It was after our conversation I realized, when and if I ever do get my Master’s degree, will I be happy? What exactly do I want? Will a Master’s degree be enough to satisfy my inner most needs and desires? Will it then be a doctorate I focus on and put my entire family again through another 3 to 4 years of papers and late nights after all I have already put them through all while racking up student loans which will take me years to pay off? After years of going to school, struggling, trying to prove my worth, when am I ever just going to be still, be content and be happy?
It was in that earth shattering “AHA” moment I realized I was trying to rectify my past life and find contentment in education to prove I was indeed somebody. I always lacked self-confidence and had a low self-esteem, but seemed to do well in school. So education was the route I used to rectify my actions. And it paid off, until I became so focused on constantly trying to “arrive” in which I caused distress not only in my life but in those closest to me.
It was in that moment I also realized all these years I thought I was content, that was the very thing I was struggling the most with. It was not the fulfillment of higher education or a better salary or getting married or living in a dream house or getting to my goal weight or goal dress size or *whatever else you want to insert here* that would ever make me happy or make me feel as though I “had arrived” but it was surrendering my will to His, allowing Him to work it out while I was just focusing on being still.
I suddenly felt like a small child in a giant play room and my patient, long-suffering Heavenly Father was standing at the door watching me play with a toy I was not yet mature enough to handle. I was trying to fit the triangle into the square hole, banging it on the ground when it didn’t fit and go the way I had planned. Finally, after years of frustration, I picked the toy up, walked over to the door and said, “Ok God, I obviously don’t know how to fit the triangles into the squares, can you help me out here?”
It was in that moment there was such a sweet release. I realized everything I needed to be content was right before my eyes.
Complete surrender also meant letting go of fear, of doubt, of the controlling manipulative factor I had held over my future and which I had struggled so deeply with all of these years.
It meant saying, you know what God, you are so much better at fitting those triangles into my life when and where they need to be, so I’m not going to worry myself with that anymore.
Gone was the shame over my past actions, gone was the frustration that my life didn’t ever seem to be right, gone was the condemnation I felt I had over me after all these years, gone was the struggle I had in proving myself to the world when in reality the struggle was within and I was just not content with where He had placed me and what He had already given me.
This also brought the realization that if I could not learn true contentment now, I probably was not going to be content with what He has ahead for me.
Since I have completely released my will to His I have found just this deep inner stillness. I finally feel as though I don’t have to keep up with everyone and everything or justify my life.
It has also meant opening up and allowing Him to heal deep emotional wounds in which I had been protecting for years by making myself “busy.”
I am still most definitely a work in progress, and this is not always fun. I do believe as long as we are in this mortal body we are continually striving towards perfection, pressing towards the mark (Philippians 3:14) and I have learned that journey is not always what we think it will be.
It has been great to just BE Still and Know that HE is GOD.
Please don’t get me wrong, I am all for higher education and I applaud all those who have and are going through it, and I look forward to hopefully one day completing my Master’s degree and maybe even my Doctorate. Those are both still goals and dreams in my life, but until the moment arrives in my life where it is the perfect fit at the perfect time, I am perfectly content with being still and knowing that HE is God right now because I know He is also the God of my future. He is the God that never changes, He is the same yesterday today and forever.