I suppose I’ve always liked to control things — to plan my career or vacations or schedule my day in half-hour increments, for efficiency’s sake.
It was a gift, I thought, this mapping out of my life so I didn’t waste time reaching my goals. That was until I found myself in the emergency room unable to breathe at age 25. I squeezed my husband’s hand so tightly his fingers pulsed as the doctor told me a football-sized tumor entangled my lungs. And to complicate the situation more, I was six weeks pregnant with our first child.
You can’t control that.
Not your health.
Oh, you can eat organically and exercise obsessively and take practical steps to prevent disease, but sometimes when you least suspect it, disease happens.
Curled into myself on the couch, fatigued and fearful of what the future held for me and my unborn baby, I did the only thing I could: I prayed with great sincerity that God would heal me from my cancer.
But he didn’t.
No matter which prayer position I tried or what health tactic I dabbled in, my disease deflated me. One afternoon, a sharp, stabbing pain shot through my chest and an uncontrollable cough gurgled out. It grew louder and rattled deeper inside my core. With no other options, no other way out, I started chemotherapy during the second trimester of my pregnancy.
The person who once found great comfort in controlling her situations couldn’t heal her disease or protect her baby or make sense of all the uncertainty surrounding her life. I didn’t like this new reality very much, because it meant surrendering control.
I had a sneaky suspicion this wasn’t a coincidence.
One thing was certain, staring sickness in the face changed my goals. I no longer cared about becoming successful in my career, or being debt free, or if my house resembled a Pottery Barn catalog. I just wanted to live long enough to hold a healthy baby girl, maybe see her ride a bike, and if I was really blessed, watch her walk down the aisle.
Perspective is a beautiful thing.
A month into my treatments, I was still calculating the outcome of my situation when a good friend had the guts to say, “Once you realize you’re not in control, life gets a whole lot easier.”
Well, hello wisdom.
I needed this little gem of insight typeset on a hot-pink sticky note, plastered to my bathroom mirror as a daily reminder.
Stop taking God’s job.
Stop being a control freak and take a breather.
Internally obsessing about the outcome helps no one and left me miserably fretful. I wished a nifty toggle switch were embedded in my brain so I could flick it off and not think about the unanswered questions in my life. Only, I wouldn’t fully learn this lesson of releasing my issues for years — a decade to be exact — because I went on to battle multiple life-threatening illnesses.
I can say now with confidence that the sweetest hours of my life came in the morning when I lay face first, calling out to God, asking him to carry me another day. Every trial deepened my relationship with Jesus, and each time God revived my weakened body after the doctors shared a grim report, my faith expanded to a new level of understanding — a level my limited mind could never explain.
Maybe that’s why he tells me in Proverbs 3:5 to trust in him with all my heart; not to depend on my own understanding. This faithful obedience required me to temper my obsessive-compulsive brain and accept the mystery of his indescribable power. He can’t show up and receive credit if I’m calling all the shots.
By my ninth medical emergency, my weakened will finally told the Lord, “Either take me or use me; I’m yours now — fully. Whether in sickness or in health, I’ll alter my life according to your Spirit’s internal nudges.”
Surrendering all is another beautiful thing.
That simple act of releasing control alleviated a lot of pressure. Praise God for brokenness and his mysteries and little hot-pink sticky-note reminders — for that’s where I found freedom.
Enter to Win a Copy of “When God Intervenes”
Welcome to Ungrind!
Do you want to be inspired, motivated, and equipped to live the everyday story of your life well?
If so, you’re in the right place. Whether you need encouragement in your relationships or in your faith, I hope you’ll find the transparent voices of mentors and friends here at Ungrind.
So, grab a cup of coffee and keep reading. We're so glad you're here!
Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
Get Our Free Ebook!
3 Ways to Navigate Personality Differences
Sometimes personality differences can wear on us. Here are three ways we can navigate them in a loving manner.
Surprised By ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’
If you haven't seen this film, God may speak to your heart through it in ways you weren't expecting.
The Wedding Ring
Are you struggling in your marriage? Here's how a wedding ring helped one wife fight for her marriage.
5 Ways to Live an Out-of-Control Life
Here are 5 ways to let go of control and trust your present and your future to God.
5 Creative Places to Find Prayer Accountability
Do you want to pray more, but are easily distracted? Here are some practical ways to stay focused.
How to Rescue a Day Gone Wrong in Your Marriage
Just because a day doesn't start well, doesn't mean you can't rescue it.
How To Change Your Life in 10 Minutes
Here's how you can change your life with a simple 10 minutes a day.
What Women Are Saying
-- Arlene Pellicane, co-author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World and 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife
"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
-- Gary Chapman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages
We are a member of the Amazon affiliate program and regularly use affiliate links. If you purchase an item from an Amazon link we provide, we will receive a small referral commission. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. We only share books, music, and products that our writers personally have used and highly recommend.
Faith4 years ago
When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds
Motherhood4 years ago
Surviving a Strong-Willed Child
Faith4 years ago
7 Ways to Create A Family Altar
Friendship5 years ago
Beyond the Registry: The Ultimate Gift Guide for Expectant Parents
Relationships2 months ago
5 Ways to Teach Your Child to Hear God
Marriage6 years ago
4 Reasons I’m Not Facebook Friends With My Husband
Everyday Faith4 years ago
6 Simple Ways to Give Thanks in the Thick of It
Articles5 years ago
10 Ways Life is Like a Box of Chocolates
Articles7 years ago
How to Lift Up the One You Love
Articles5 years ago
Relationships7 months ago
Facing Our Motherhood Fears
Digging Into Scripture2 months ago
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions