Recently, a friend of mine described to me her theory that we all have buckets: a bucket for fun, one for freedom, one for intimacy, one for growth, for service, for solitude, for vulnerability, maybe one for chaos or significance, or heartache and hurt. Our buckets are labelled differently. And our buckets aren’t all the same size.
In the past, I would pride myself on the size of my ‘uncertainty bucket’. I felt agile, I could roll with the punches, carpe every diem, and thrived on the adventure of the unpredictable and unknown. Question marks tasted like possibility, not like anxiety.
Maybe it’s just part of getting older, maybe God needed to shrink the budget in one place so he could extend it in another, or maybe it is everything that 2020 has thrown at us, but my uncertainty bucket feels uneasily full. I suspect I’m not alone when I say that my threshold for question marks feels full with no more room.
In my fear of the unknown I plan, plan and plan again. I risk assess the living daylight out of anything the future might hold and begin grieving what has passed, before it’s even ended. This leaves me awkwardly straddling the past and the future with very little attention on what is right in front of me now.
This month I felt God tug at my plans and agendas. It was as if he’d walked into the classroom and written a new lesson title on the blackboard: ‘Presence’. The homework was twofold. Firstly, I was to give up planning, and take up praying. A simple task that made me feel so out of control, and that is exactly how God wants it. The second step was to practise gratitude daily. Actively seeking out gifts that God has sewn into my life reminded me of his sweetness, his goodness, his trustworthiness. I am still learning that I can depend on God, that, when I relinquish control, my heart is strangely comfortable. He has proven himself good, again and again. So very good.
This month of surrender and prayer has delivered a lesson best summed up by the following prose from Strahan at Commoners Communion*:
“To a sail, windlessness is rest . . .
May you allow yourself to settle with the wind today –
Or with its raging, or with its gentle persistence –
Remembering that you’re not at all in control of God,
And that your soul is all the safer for it.”
Amen.[Ed: Commoners Communion is a blog, podcast and conversational look at how poetry and revelation kiss in the life of Spirit filled humanity. The creator Strahan writes daily prayers and devotions on instagram.]