Over the last 6 months, I have been contemplating where life is taking me. I have 13 hours completed on a 48 hour master's degree in church ministry. I am pursuing certification as a lay minister. I am attending "candidacy" meetings just in case I want to dive a little deeper than certification. All the while, I ask myself, what is God's will for my life?
Funny, I say to the rehab ladies on a regular basis, "God's will for your life is pretty basic ... love God, love others, love yourself." In fact, just last week, I said it again ... it's not about going through a particular doorway; it's about how you live once the door snaps shut.
Could I love God, love others and love myself if I do not finish my master's degree? Yes.
Could I love God, love others and love myself if I do not become certified as a lay minister or pursue any other sort of licensing or ordination? Yes.
So what's the problem?
Well, the problem is me.
I was visiting with my husband's aunt today. She is a licensed pastor in Louisiana who works in recovery ministry as well. She said something I have come to believe -- you don't have to be an addict to benefit from a 12-step program. I'm familiar enough with the 12 steps that I could probably come pretty close to reciting at least 8 of them (sort of like when you try to name the 10 commandments off the top of your head). Step 3 says this: "We made a decision to turn our lives and our will over to the care of God as we understood God."
I read that and I think, piece of cake. I think I already have turned my life and my will over to the care of God. Yet given that I like to beat a dead horse, I was processing this step a little further and I made an interesting discovery about myself (see, this is why step work is so beneficial). It seems I need a Step 2.5 that says, "Stopped trying to masquerade my will as God's will." If you're going to turn your life and your will over to the care of God, then you have to stop claiming what God's will is. I am amused by people who will announce a certain difficult decision they have been trying to make and then punctuate the announcement with, "God gave me peace about it." Hmmm .... you took the easier of the two choices. Are you really surprised that you feel peace about it ? Really? Bam, defining God's will.
Yesterday I had a pedicure. I was in a hurry (as usual). I had a series of stops I wanted to make and had them all lined out in my mind, including how much travel time I would need for each errand. After my pedicure was done, the woman attending me said, "You sit there Tammy and relax; take a nap." Then she started attending to another client. I got my credit card out of my wallet and placed them both in my lap -- my subtle hint to her should she glance my way. She did not. I thought, well now, I don't want to be rude, but I really want to get on with my endless list of errands! Then it hit me ... maybe her words to me were God's words. Maybe it would be better for me to sit back and close my eyes and have a little nap. I did. Mind you, I felt a little anxious the whole time, but I surrendered my life and my will to the moment and let "something else" come to me, just to see what the outcome would be.
Can we seize God's will for our lives? Can we easily identify it in the same manner people watch for birds and then cry out, "There it is, there's the cardinal I told you about!" Maybe accepting God's will for our lives really means sitting back in the chair and letting it come to you instead of grasping at it so desperately.
The step says "...as we understood God" not, "... as we understood God's will." Can I trust God to take me where I need to go? Yes, I think I can. Can I trust myself to live what I teach ... to worry less about walking through a particular door and concentrate more on loving God, loving others and loving myself? Well, I don't know if "trust" is the right word ... but I feel more aware of the importance of doing so. That's certainly a start.