Self Determination or Not

“I did it my way,” sang Frank Sinatra.

“Just pick yourself up by your bootstraps” a high school teacher taught his students.

“Make it so” ordered Jon Luc Piccard in Star Trek.

“Fake it til you make it”   states a Twelve Step program slogan.

“Carpe Diem” was on the T-shirt of the Olympic decathlon winner,

Bruce Jenner

And the list goes on.  It is the way of the world, especially in America, to be self-made, self-determined, creating your own destiny.  If only that were true I would be in a much different place today.   I’d probably be dead.  No kidding.  Here’s the story:

When I had headaches as a child, my parents took me to a handwriting analyst.  Handwriting analysis was a popular psychoanalytic tool in the 1960’s.  Seems silly today.  One result of the test was spot on:  “you are a very determined person.”  The expert then cited some negative consequences of this personality trait and prescribed a treatment approach of writing a positive sentence 30 times each night for a month, crossing each “T” with a dark stroke of the pen.  Talk about reinforcing a sense of deTerminaTion!  That was a crazy time in the mental health field for sure.

But I’m sure it was determination that got me out of the dysfunctional home of my upbringing, to college, to move out of State for my first job, to graduate school, and to make a mess of my life as a single woman in a big city.  Without the saving grace that comes with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I would follow the whims of the world to make it or break it.  Finally in 1992, that determination did break me with a chronic pain condition:  perhaps a result of spending hours at the computer finishing my Master’s thesis and degree, three semesters late, striving for what I wanted.  I was actually a new believer in Christ then, but I was still living in my own strength.  My strength had run out.

It’s history now, the crazy series of events that followed.  I did not grow much in my walk with the Lord at first, although my husband at the time and I did try to lean on Him in our decisions, in our hopes and dreams.  I would find that to really trust in the Lord is to die to one’s own strength, not try to figure out what God is up to all the time then do what you feel is best.  When we truly wait on Him, He will show us, lead us, and orchestrate events and opportunities that in the end are right for us.  Well my strength given out.  The trials of life that followed in that big city became unbearable and efforts to make things work ended up making things worse.  In the end, life would start over for me, from scratch, as a single woman.

I must have been a very strong-willed person, for the Lord to allow so much tragedy in my life to ultimately change me, soften me, and lead me to the underlying desires of my heart.  As my own heart was breaking, He began showing me His heart, His love for me, His will for me, and goodness beyond belief, in due time.  Just about everything that I have ever wanted has now either come true or is in the process of coming true.  Yes, even the current battle with Late Stage/Chronic Lyme Disease.  Did you know that Chronic Lyme Disease can cause Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?  Wow Lord.  You have provided me a loving husband and a doctor who understands this in a life where I have the time and space to “bother to recover” (as we used to say in the Twelve Step program).  Your grace gives me hope for what you may be up to.  You are sooooo good to me.

I will trust you Lord. Even as I was sweating and thrashing about in bed this morning, missing another opportunity to worship you in my church home, I will trust You.  Even as I was shaking and bursting out gutteral sounds in the back seat of the car this evening, then getting up to have some dinner with friends, I will trust you.   Even as I sit up late at night on the computer, writing this blog, sharing You with others around the world.  Yes, it’s a crazy time, once again in my life.  I will trust you Lord as you have grown my faith in You.

The Bible teaches us to:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

I believe in You Lord and Your Word.  Oh how I pray that You will reveal yourself to others who are reading this, that they too will trust in You, renew their trust in You.

Self determination is not enough!  It does not work for the long haul that is life.  One person’s strength cannot compare to the God of all creation who made you, knew you and loved you before you were born and wants you to know:

11 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.”  Jeremiah 29:11

Won’t you trust in Him too?  If you don’t know Him, I invite you to begin reading the Book of John in the New Testament of the Bible.  I know He will meet you there.  Please let me know how it goes.  With love, :J

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