Recently, I was in a discussion with a group of women about how life sometimes feels unpredictable, overwhelming, overloaded, uncontrollable. As women, we have so much on our plates. Our expectations of ourselves are high. Often, our need for control is our worst enemy. As organizers and planners, we want to have order in our lives. Sometimes that feels impossible to achieve.
A couple of months ago, I found myself in just such a time. We were busy getting our yard ready for two wedding receptions to be held in June. My husband’s work was especially stressful. We were also addressing several health issues for him. Our single daughter who, with her three children, had been living with us for over two years was in a particularly stressful time. Two of her children required surgery. One child was having behavioral troubles in school. Her work was on overload. She was falling in love, thinking of marrying, and planning a move to a new city. Our youngest son was changing careers and moving to a new city. Our oldest son was dealing with significant challenges from an accident last summer that left him with spinal fractures and a traumatic brain injury. All of these things naturally spilled over into my life. On top of it all, I was trying to work from home, maintain the home, help care for children while my daughter worked, and get plans underway for our October Heart of a Woman Retreat.
One morning, I woke up with the weight of the world on my shoulders. Through the day I felt heavy, burdened, and exhausted. That night I went to bed feeling hopeless and out of control.
Sometime in the middle of the night I became aware that I was watching my body free fall through the sky. I remember thinking, “That is exactly what my life feels like– a free fall.” Just as panic began to engulf me, I looked again. I was still in free fall. However, this time, two large, strong, capable hands were right under my back. Not breaking the free fall, but guiding me in the free fall.
Spiritual communication is an interesting thing where a lot of information is transferred through your mind rapidly. Immediately I knew that those were God’s hands resting under my back. I knew that free fall was necessary so that I would reach out to Him, trust Him, and put myself in his hands. I felt reassured that He was in control. I would not fall into a broken heap.. All things would work together for good.
Peace immediately entered my heart. Nothing in my life was different when I woke up in the morning. Life was still just as complicated, but it didn’t feel heavy. I had confidence that “He had my back”. I had no idea how and when things would settle, work out, or resolve, but I knew they would.
In Jeremiah 29:11 we read: “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Plans To Prosper You
The phrase, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you” is exactly what was communicated to me during my dream. God is a loving Father. He is wise to let us grow through the tough times. However, His plan is always to prosper us and to give us “hope and a future”.
Two months have passed since this dream. I have been carefully looking for how His plans are unfolding in my life. Things aren’t perfect, but many things have settled, worked out, or are in the process of resolving.
We have been guided to more options to explore regarding my husband’s health. Our daughter married a wonderful man and is happier than we have seen her in many years. Her move was chaotic, but we worked together as a family to help them. Her children are adjusting beautifully to their new circumstance. Our oldest son is still struggling with his injuries, but his little family was able to go on a wonderful trip and make beautiful memories. The wedding celebrations in our yard were joyous and beautiful. Our other son and his wife are settling into a beautiful new home, engaged in an adventurous new job, and expecting to become parents in October. Life is beginning to calm down, take a different shape, and come into clearer focus.
Through this experience, I have discovered three practices that have helped me relax into His hands and let Him “have my back.”
- Rest in Him. In my dream, when I felt I was falling on my own, my body was tense with panic. As soon as I realized His hands were under my back, my body relaxed. The minute I relaxed, I began to listen to His calm guidance. Take a minute. Close your eyes. Breath in and out in a slow measured rhythm. Picture resting in His arms. Verbally release all of your worries to Him. Express your need and desire to receive His help and guidance. Then just be still and rest. This takes practice. Sometimes you will receive direction and sometimes you will just rest and breath. Either way, it is OK. This brings us to practice two.
- Trust in His Timing. I don’t know about you, but I like to be in control — not only of outcomes but of timing. Sometimes I try to force God’s timing in my life and get frustrated when His timing is different than mine. A good friend of mine repeatedly gives me this advice, “Just sit back, give it some time, and see how things will work out.” This is very hard for me, but when I do it, I realize that His timing is always better than mine. This is one reason hindsight is always better than foresight. Time let’s things work out under His guidance and direction. Time also gives us a chance to learn from our lessons and glean wisdom from them.
- Acknowledge His Hand In The Moment. Be constantly vigilant to see how God is working in your life. Even if it appears that He is taking His time, He is always at work. We just don’t always choose to see it. The more we are looking for His hand, the more we will see it. Ask to have eyes to see and ears to hear. The minute you catch even a glimpse of His hand, stop to acknowledge and express gratitude for how He is working with and for you. The more you look for God in your life, the more you will see Him. The more you express gratitude, the deeper the connection you will feel.
Life is full of those times when we feel overwhelmed, overloaded, and out of control. These practices can help us to take a break and realize that no matter what, He has our backs.
What is a time when you have recognized His hand in your life?