Stuck.

angelhittingI came across this picture the other day, and it made me laugh because it reminded me so much of being a kid.  My brother would grab my hand and smack my face with it, and when I got angry and came at him, he would casually put his hand on the top of my head and hold me at arm’s length while I flailed like a windmill, unable to land even one punch from that distance. The more he laughed at me, the more I’d see red, which only increased the entertainment value for him.

When I was doing muy thai all the time some years ago, my trainer would occasionally get me backed into the corner of the ring, and all of that frustration I used to feel as a kid would come roaring back. I’d come at him like an unchained pitbull, snarling and grinding my teeth and wailing on him as hard as I could, totally uninterested in fighting clean — I just wanted to beat him back against the ropes on the other side of the ring, no matter how dirty I had to fight to do it. Afterwards, I’d be embarrassed that all the technique and training had flown out the window, but the next time he got me against the ropes, I’d come roaring out the same way. It was like my brain was stuck on a certain response.

Brain Input: Oh, snap! Are those the ropes I feel against my back?

Brain Output: So what that this guy was a professional MMA fighter? You can do it! Start swinging, you wuss!

Now, I’ve been known to get some things stuck — not just my brain. In fact, in the same one week period, I got the riding mower stuck twice in the exact same ditch (*note to self: the sides of the ditch cannot be mowed with a riding mower), and my Jeep stuck in a field. I took some flack for the tractor, but the Jeep was excavated by a friend who showed remarkable restraint and never once said, “You’re an idiot” while he was standing knee-deep in mud, surveying my accomplishment. He may have been thinking it. Probably was. (*note to friend: I don’t need to know.)

stuckjeep
It wasn’t quite this bad. 

My brother is so accustomed to getting my calls about my being stuck, and needing to know how to start the weedwhacker (seriously, the fact that you have to hold it off the ground and pull the cord at the same time is a major design flaw), and what the rattle in the engine could mean, and how do I brine the turkey, and whether something on EBay is a good buy, and whether he can magically tell me from three states away where the drill is, etc. etc. that he doesn’t even say hello when he answers anymore. If he’s having a good day, he says, “Whatcha need, kiddo?” and if he’s not in the mood for my nonsense, he says, “Whaaaaaattttttt?” like Archie Bunker.

donkeyinahole
Yes, I’m an ass in a hole. I get it. Very funny. Now, could you maybe grab a rope? 

Being stuck can be a way of life. We keep doing the same thing, living the same way, dealing with the same people in the same places with the same limitations and unmet needs and unrealized potential and unfulfilled expectations…and wonder why nothing ever gets better!

It doesn’t get better because we’re stuck. And stuck isn’t good. It isn’t right. It isn’t fun. And I don’t think it’s how we’re supposed to live.

So how do we get unstuck?  I don’t think the answer is generally cosmetic. It’s deeper than that, more meaningful.  Scarier.

cow
I like what you’re doing with yourself these days, Bess. It’s very chic.

My friend Lisa sent me a photo last week, a screenshot of a screenshot, or something sufficiently techy like that.  It was a comment made by her former yoga teacher (or maybe current yoga teacher; I got lost in the details), and it seemed to me to be the best advice I’ve ever heard for getting unstuck. With compliments to yoga teacher Stephen F., here is what he said:

Act as if you trust your God.

Simple, huh?  That’s one of those things that is deceptively simple, yet utterly profound. Act as if you trust your God.  Stop and think about that for a minute. What would your life look like if you trusted your God?

Act as if you trust your God.

If I trusted God, and truly believed that he concerns himself with my life and knows the number of my days and knew me before I was born and has counted the hairs on my head and wants the best for me and puts people and experiences in my life with intention…all the things that Scripture tells us God does…what changes would I make? What goals would I achieve? What would I let go of?

Act as if you trust your God.

It’s a long list.  And it takes a tremendous amount of effort to trust anyone, even God.  But as MLK said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” There’s something extremely powerful in the idea of stepping off into the unknown and trusting that you will soar, not fall.

cowstuck
Not so much soaring…but props for at least trying to change her horizons.. 

I think the first step towards trust in God begins with altering our thinking, and moving from “Here’s what I will lose if I do A, B or C” to “Here is what I will gain.”  Moving from “Here is why this won’t work” to “Here is how this will succeed.”

Act as if you trust your God.

If you trusted your God — if you truly believed the words of Jeremiah 29:11 —  For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope — what would you do differently?

Act as if you trust your God.  

I dare you.

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