“Flexibility is your friend.”
This was a phrase I learned on a mission trip in college. It meant that plans were always subject to change. It meant that life would be easier and more enjoyable if we held our plans loosely. It meant that some things were completely out of our control, and usually, the changes were for the better.
Well, Flexibility and I have had a very up and down friendship over the years. I tend to abandon Flexibility when life gets the best of me and run right back to my friends Stress, Control and Fear. Maybe some of you know them too.
A few years ago, my husband and I met at a church retreat. He was the quiet, mysterious boy from Texas and I was (his words, not mine) the really cute girl who he never thought he’d talk to. Well, luckily, he did eventually talk to me. After we made our way through first dates, a mini break-up (and get-back-together, obviously) and family approvals, we got married and started planning for the rest of our lives together.
We knew that our plan would one day involve moving to Houston where his whole family lived and where we knew we wanted to raise a family. But, as I’ve quickly learned, when this sweet engineer husband of mine gets an idea in his head, it means that he wants this idea to be put in motion…like, now. Yeah, that part is really fun for my over-analyze-everything-and-explore-every-option brain.
So, a month after our one-year anniversary, we packed up our perfect, 2-blocks-from-the-ocean apartment and made the trek through California and Arizona and New Mexico and Texas and Texas and Texas…until we finally arrived in Houston.
I was ok though because I wasn’t completely giving up home. My parents had decided to follow us out there and they weren’t far behind us. We just needed to find the perfect place to accommodate all of us.
I know what you’re thinking, you were going to live with your parents?! And the answer is yes. We really believed that this was something the Lord was calling us to, a way to honor my parents by giving them the freedom to fully retire. All in all, I thought I was being a pretty loyal to my dear friend Flexibility with this plan (and yes, I know that statement is completely ironic).
So, my parents put their house on the market in California. We continued our house search in Texas. But as we went out for yet another house-hunting trip with our very patient realtor, a knot formed in my stomach as we walked in and out of one house after another: this plan was failing. We couldn’t find anything.
Well, turns out I don’t really like Flexibility that much. In fact, I really prefer Stress, Control and Fear. They are comfortable and familiar.
And as the plan for my parents to follow us began to unravel, the reality of what I had just done hit me. I had picked up and moved to Texas thinking my parents were right behind me. And all of a sudden, they weren’t. They were 1500 miles away. A plane ride away. An “I’ll-see-you-at-Christmas” distance away.
No, your parents aren’t coming right now. No, you aren’t buying a house right now. No, you aren’t having a baby right now (that story is for another blog).
But they weren’t necessarily “no’s”. They were “not yet’s”. And honestly, that was worse. It felt like a tease, like a cruel joke. And I struggled.
Welcome back, Stress, Control and Fear. Long time no see. Get lost, Flexibility.
Then, Harvey hit Houston. This was definitely not in the plan. But not long after Harvey devastated Houston, my mom ran across this quote:
Ha. Ha. Very funny, God.
No, your parents aren’t coming right now…because they would be moving in the middle of a hurricane.
No, you aren’t buying a house right now…because I want to save you from the stress of owning a home in the midst of record-setting floods.
No, you aren’t having a baby right now…and I need you to still trust that I am good even when you don’t have a reason why this happened.
And that’s when the lightbulb went off: Flexibility is just a nickname. This friend’s real name is Trust. And suddenly my difficulty with Flexibility revealed a much deeper struggle with Trust.
Do I really Trust that God desires good for me?
Do I really Trust that God is faithful?
Do I really Trust that He knows what He’s doing?
Some of these questions may feel silly. You probably know the “right” answers to them. But that’s not what I’m asking. I want to know the honest answers. So, read them again. Write down your responses. Tell a friend. Tell God. I promise, He’s not afraid of your candor. In fact, it may be the first step back towards that good friend, Trust.