My Valiant Efforts

What is the balance between God’s sovereignty and my responsibility? I’ve asked myself that question many, many times – especially in the last couple of years.

  • When I moved apartments earlier this year, I knew God was in control. But how much was I supposed to stress myself out by looking for apartments, and how much was I just supposed to let God do His thang?
  • When my two sisters, three brothers, two parents, and extended family are planning a Christmas get-together with people in five states and two countries, how much should I try to make everything happen just the way I want it – and how much should I let God be God?
  • When I was car-searching, was my insistence on getting a car that was cute God’s way of directing my search?

And, of course, I process this topic all the time when it comes to singleness. How much am I supposed to DO to get a man, and how much am I supposed to WAIT for God to bring the right one?

I think the answer to that question is different for different people in different times in their lives, but right now, I keep coming back to Proverbs 16:9: “In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” (NIV).

Basically, that verse and a few more in Proverbs (3:5-6, 5:21, etc.) say that I can plan, make lists, and try new things – but, in the end, God is still going to have bigger plans, better lists, and more wonderful things for me. HIS thoughts are higher (Isaiah 55:8-9), and the more I put my hope in HIM (instead of my own thoughts), the less stressed/worried/anxious I’ll be.

However, what I struggle with ALL the time is balancing the extremes of

  1. wanting all the control over my life
  2. doing nothing at all, if my efforts are going to be useless anyway

In the first scenario, I make lists, plan far ahead, coordinate with people, keep schedules, and try to prepare for every eventuality. I am simultaneously comforted and stressed with the efforts to maintain control. In the end, when I do my thing, God gets the glory.

In the second scenario, I decide that whatever I’m trying to do is too hard or too boring or too overwhelming, so I don’t try. I am simultaneously comforted and stressed with the effort to let go of control. In the end, when God does His thing, God gets the glory.

I don’t have the magical solution for finding the balance between TRYing and WAITing; I’m sure I get it wrong often. But I have learned a few things that have been comforting recently – especially in those moments I ask myself, “Should I go out speed dating? Or should I staying at home to eat ice cream while lounging in my pajamas? I wonder which will be more effective in finding a husband”:

  1. When I put my hope in my plans, I am often disappointed; when I put my hope in Jesus, I am never disappointed.
  2. WHAT or HOW I plan/try is less important than WHY I plan/try. Am I planning/trying in order to be in control, be recognized, and be amazing? Or am I planning/trying in order to point myself and other people to our need for Jesus?
  3. All my efforts to get a man – to get/do anything in this life, really – should be to please God, because Jesus made every effort in His life, death, and resurrection to do so (I John 2:6).

But I do have a list of things I’ve tried to get a man. Clearly, none of them have worked (yet).

Reading books
Reading blogs
Writing blogs
Writing in my journal about how much I want a man
Creating online dating profiles
Deleting online dating profiles
Going on offline dates with online men
Telling God how much I want a man
Telling God how much my man needs me
Talking to God about dating
Talking to my sisters about dating
Talking to my friends about dating
Not talking to anyone about dating
Not talking to boys
Talking to boys
Dressing modestly
Dressing immodestly
Dressing up
Dressing down
Hanging out with girls
Hanging out with boys
Traveling to different countries
Traveling around my country
Settling down and not traveling much
Learning to cook
Learning to flirt
Learning to not flirt
Being strong and independent
Being needy and in need of protecting
Putting myself “out there”
Staying home and eating ice cream
Losing weight
Gaining weight (see line item about ice cream)
Dying my hair
Not dying my hair
Cutting my hair
Not cutting my hair
“Not” trying

So either I’m not trying the right things, or God has a plan that’s bigger and better than my efforts. I can live with that second option. Most days.

Now excuse me while I go re-activate my eHarmony profile.

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2 thoughts on “My Valiant Efforts

  1. For all your actual temporal needs: Matthew 6:33, 34. If you have a perceived need that is not an actual need, maybe God will provide for it, maybe He won’t. PS: I recently quit my pint-of-ice cream-nightly habit, and I feel a whole lot better 🙂

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