In the past couple of years I have added a word to my “bad word” list. My list of “Bad Words” is pretty long because, much to my kid’s dismay, I have words on there like “fart” and “butt”. I prefer them to use words like “toot” and “bum” like they did when they were 3. They are 15, 16 and 20. They may end up getting their “bum” kicked if they use that word at a public high school. But…
…here’s my new “bad word”—FIGURE. Nasty, right? Ya know, when you look it up in the dictionary (or ask Siri to google it) you find that there are about four definitions that use it as a noun and four as a verb. It’s apparently a very versatile word. One of the most common ways to use it as a noun is to describe a “figure” as a number in a math problem or in describing a woman’s body. Even though I see the logic in this—-because quite often I think of my “figure” as a problem to be solved—this is not the “figure” I want to talk about. I am more interested in the verb version.
One of the verb versions of this word means “to calculate or work out.” Sometimes I find myself trying to “figure” things out. To calculate them. I am trying to put a figure on something or “crunch the numbers.” The thing is, my life is not a math problem that has a definitive answer. I am not a math girl, but I know enough to know that the answer to an equation is either right or it is wrong. No gray area there. Trying “figure” out life by calculation doesn’t work.
And to be honest, it gets even worse when I try to use the other definition: “to think, consider, or expect to be the case. To suppose, believe, expect, suspect, conclude, etc.”
In other words, when I try to use all my power and reasoning skills and take into consideration all that has happened in the past in order to predict the future, I get myself in trouble. I basically try to do God’s job and forget that my only job is to move ahead in trust and confidence that He knows what’s best for everyone involved and He “sees” what’s ahead of me.
I don’t have to “figure” it out. Because honestly, it’s impossible. I am figuring using my limited knowledge and with self-serving ideas leading the way. I want what I I want—not always what I need.
So, this is why I have tried to redirect my thinking when I catch myself saying, “I just need to ‘figure’ out…”. I have been doing that a lot lately—trying to figure things out. I have some sort of dilemma and I let it roll around in my head (that’s a nice way of confessing that I have been fretting and worrying), trying come up with solutions as to what to do and how it will all work out in the end. Just when I think I have come to the right conclusion, these darn people get involved and then my answers change because I am an emotional being, not a math problem.
Here’s the thing—the reality is that I can’t control other people, places, or things. All I can really do is turn it over to God and ask him to lead me in the right direction. I don’t need to have it all laid out perfectly and then start walking—I just need to point myself in the direction of the next right thing with God at my side and trust Him to lead me to the answer. It sounds childish and simple. I suppose it is. But it is much more effective and less stressful than trying to “figure” it all out. However, since my tendency is to attempt to calculate and figure things out, I need a alternative plan.
Instead of using my own calculator, I am determined to only calculate with God in view.
“The one thing that keeps us from the possibility of worrying is bringing God in as the greatest factor in all our calculations”.* When I can do that, I can truly let it go. What ever “it” is. It changes minute by minute. I can decide to be overwhelmed with the responsibility of figuring everything out, or I can let my soul rest in the promise of 1 Peter 5:7…
“Let God have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.”
I don’t have to “figure it out.” That’s God’s job. My job is to trust that He “could and would if he were sought.”
*AA Big Book