Surrender Control: Give It to God

I know I’m not the only one that has control issues. Would it be nice to delegate tasks to others and take some stress off my shoulders? Sure. But then I’d just stress that they’re not doing it the way I would. Who’s with me? But if we’re supposed to have faith in a bigger power and a greater plan for our lives, how do we surrender control?

Surrender Control

This is one of those things that creates a power struggle in my mind. As I continue to build my relationship with God, I want to have unwavering faith in Him and His plan for my life. I want to replace all of my worries with trust. It’s so easy to say I want to surrender control. However, I also want to know exactly when and how everything will happen. I want to know the impact my actions will have. And, on occasion, I think I have things figured out enough to assume I know what is going to take place. And we all know what happens when we assume things…

My mind works on overtime. It likes to analyze things. It’s no surprise I make a good Financial Analyst. It also means I think about things I don’t need to. I imagine all kinds of crazy scenarios that will likely never occur, but I play them out in my head anyway. While that may be great when I’m writing, it’s not so great when I turn every small decision into a cluster. Like what would happen if we move our kids to a new school? Sure, they’ll probably make new friends and do okay. But what if they don’t get the education they’re supposed to or the experiences they need to properly reach their potential, and I effectively set them up to fail at realizing their purposes in life? Sigh.

So how do I surrender?

Step 1: Recognize

Once I realize my wheels are spinning in the muddy gunk of worry and speculation, I take a deep breath. I clear my mind. I tell myself to stop (sometimes out loud). Then I back up and think about what it is I’m really spinning around. After I have that identified, I determine whether or not it is something I can control.

It turns out there are actually very few things I can control:

My choices
My feelings
My attitude
My actions/reactions

It really all comes down to my choices. While they can seem instinctive or out of my control at times, I do choose my feelings, attitude, and actions. Or at least, I choose how long I want to stay in those feelings or keep that attitude. However, I cannot control what others do or what happens to me. And, as much as I would like, I really cannot control the outcome of my choices. At most, I can just increase the odds. For example, choosing to wear a hat outside in twenty degree temperatures will increase the likelihood that I will remain healthy, but it certainly does not guarantee I will not catch a cold.

If it is not something I can choose, I release it (see Step 3), but if it is a choice I can make, I seek guidance through prayer.

Step 2: Pray

Once I’ve recognized what’s really weighing on my mind and that it’s within my control, I pray on it. I lay out my thoughts to God. I identify the choice I have to make, my concerns, and my desired outcome. While many things are outside of my control, I still believe it is important to ask for what I want and be intentional in these requests. After all, I prescribe to the “ask, believe, receive” and “power of positive thinking” belief systems.

Check out my favorite books that expand on these ideas

I ask God for guidance so I can make the right choice. And by right choice, I don’t mean what I want or think is right. I am asking that He reveal to me the choice that aligns with His will and His plans. Then if what I want and what I am supposed to do are two different things, I have to actually accept this and follow through. Control issues and stubbornness – yes, I have them both!

Finally in these prayers, as with most of my prayers, I find something to be thankful for. I give thanks for the situation or the person or even the smallest detail. I also acknowledge the fact that everything I do and ask for is at the mercy of God’s will and timeline. And above all, I want to live my life and make my choices in accordance with His plan.

Jeremiah29:11

Step 3: Release

The last step is for me to surrender and let it go. Whether or not my concern is something I can control, I release it to God. I give Him my worries and place the decision in His hands. For those things outside of my control, I may still declare my desires, but in the end I am still surrendering the outcome to God.

Truly letting go has been the hardest part for me. I can recognize and I can pray. I can even say I give it to God. But letting go and not worrying anymore, no longer dreaming up every scenario and possibility, is significantly more difficult.

I am not saying that I plan to just give up everything and sit around waiting for results. That’s not how it works. I have to be intentional in my words and actions. I have to seek opportunities and be open to signs and guidance. I’m certainly far from perfect. This is one of those things I’m still working on. But by identifying this simple process, it makes it a lot easier to be consistent and work to surrender the control.

New Year’s Resolutions: Be More Me

This post may contain affiliate links. Meaning, if you purchase something from a link, I may receive a small commission.

 

It’s New Year’s Eve. That time when you reflect on all that has happened the past year as you hopelessly attempt to find a place for all of the new things you’ve been gifted. And you might even contemplate your hopes and resolutions for the new year as you remember the mass quantities of cookies you consumed over the past week.

2017 has been a wonderful year for us. Troy and I both took on new responsibilities at work. We made it to a couple different concerts and even went on a couple mini vacations without the kids. We took the kids to the beach for the first time. My parents and sisters visited.

It was an especially eventful year for A. She had her first dance recital, played tee ball, and started Pre-K. T has grown so much in the past year. His curiosity never ends, which gets him in trouble when he does things like climb the pantry shelves or climb on top of his dresser during nap time (see the pattern?).

I wrote multiple short stories, entered a couple in a Facebook group’s contests, and have begun to narrow my genre and desired target audience. I started this blog. I submitted my first children’s story to a couple different traditional publishers (still waiting for good news). And, most importantly, I have strengthened my relationship with God, continually learning and growing in my faith.

Was 2017 perfect? Of course not! But all in all, it has been great. So what are my expectations for 2018? What are my resolutions? I plan to keep the momentum going. Let’s build on where we are and make things even better. I want to keep being me…a better version of me…a me-er me (yes, I’m making up words now).

How can I be more “me”?

Stay Healthy

Insert the typical resolutions. I want to eat healthier. Not all the time. I don’t do diets. I just want to make healthier choices most of the time. I’m not going to be the one giving up pizza or ice cream or carbs. I know the ramifications, and I’m at peace with this decision.

I plan to keep my commitment to exercising 3-5 times per week. This has been my status quo, but in the past few months, as life got busy, I let this slip a bit. And I felt it. It’s not about changing my physical appearance. I feel better emotionally and mentally when I work out. It’s a great stress reliever, even if it’s just 30 minutes over my lunch break.

And that brings me to the last piece of this resolution. I need to remember to take care of my mental and emotional health too. I need to do a better job of recognizing when I am stressed or mentally drained. Then I need to remove myself, at least temporarily, take some time to relax, regroup, or otherwise take care of me.

Pursue Purpose

The more I write, the more I am certain it is something I am meant to do. That doesn’t mean I want to make it my full time job. I don’t aspire to be the next J. K. Rowling. I just want to write each day and complete any stories I dream up, even if they turn out to be terrible.

When I do have projects that I am proud of, I will attempt to have them published and shared with others. While it is not my goal to become famous or make money from my writing, I still feel it is important to share it with others in hopes that it may have a positive impact on even just a select few.

Grow Faith

Finally, but most importantly, I want to continue growing my faith and building my relationship with God. I will start using a prayer journal (this is the one I bought) so I can be more intentional in giving thanks, asking for help, and declaring my desires. While I know that everything happens through Him, I still need to work on letting go of the control I like to have over my life.

I look forward to all that 2018 will have to offer as I continue my journey to discovering who I am meant to be. While there will certainly be downs with the ups, I trust that whatever God may place in my life, it will strengthen me. Best wishes as you strive to achieve your resolutions. May you have a blessed new year!

5 Books Full of Self Love Awesomeness

What is your initial reaction when you hear the words “self development”? Did you just roll your eyes? Most of us know that we need to take better care of ourselves, but doesn’t it sound like a lot of extra work? We have heard the typical “better you” lineup: eat healthy, exercise, take some “me” time, read more, keep a journal, meditate, let go of negativity, drink daily. Okay fine, I added the last one for fun. Beer yoga, anyone? Seriously, if you know of research that says drinking daily will improve myself, you need to drop that info in the comments!

Maybe you do these to some extent. I have attempted all of these, though I’m better at some than others. And maybe, like me, you feel there is a step missing to find that special spark in your life. After my son was born a little over two years ago, I started to feel like something was lacking. My family was complete, and I was happy in my career, yet an unknown absence loomed.

Around the same time, my MLM team was focused on self development. In fact, we were challenged to watch the movie The Secret and discuss our takeaway points. I rarely back down from a challenge, so of course I watched. By the way, it turns out MLMs are not really my thing, but I do still love the company, their products, and the people I met in my journey.

That small challenge sparked a drive to find my purpose and become a better version of myself. I began searching for guidance on Google and Pinterest. I watched videos recommended by teammates. In the end though, good old-fashioned books were the most beneficial for me. Well, that’s half true. As I was still trying to figure out how to be a mom of two and get back to work full time, I didn’t have much time or energy to pick up a book. What I did have were short bursts of time while getting ready in the morning or before bed, nursing, and pumping. I used those moments to listen to books through my phone.

So I signed up with Audible (affiliate link) and immediately downloaded any self development book that sounded remotely interesting. I stopped listening to some 10-30 minutes in because there was no connection at all. Others resonated so deeply, it was as if they were written specifically for me. I don’t read/listen as much these days, but I do still find it an important part of my growth.

My 5 favorite self development books

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
Overview: Based on the film by the same name, The Secret addresses the law of attraction theory, which states what you think about, you bring about. It highlights a number of people throughout history that have followed this approach and gives a variety of examples from people today.

Why I like it: Yes, technically I watched the film rather than reading the book, but the content in each is the same. I love the idea of the law of attraction and was able to put into action immediately. I also love the focus on gratitude. Being thankful for what we have today can drastically change our current mood, as well as what comes to us in the future.

Favorite quote: “This is your life, and it’s been waiting for you to discover it. Up until now you may have been thinking that life is hard and a struggle, so by the law of attraction you will have experienced life as hard and a struggle. Begin right now to shout to the Universe, ’Life is so easy! Life is so good! All good things come to me!’”

The Power of I Am: Two Words That Will Change Your Life Today by Joel Osteen
Overview: This book puts a twist on the law of attraction, stating that whatever follows the words “I am” is what you manifest for yourself. It helps you hone in on the gifts God has given you and love what you have today in preparation to receive greater gifts in the future.

Why I like it: Not only did this book propel my desire to live more positively, it inspired me to strengthen my relationship with God. It provides a whole list of wonderful affirmations to arm yourself with. Joel encourages you to focus on the positive rather than the negative and to remember that any obstacles in your path are temporary.

Favorite quote: “Beauty is not in how thin or tall you are, how perfect you look. Beauty is in being who God made you to be with confidence. If you’re a size 4, great. If you’re a size 24, great. Take what you have and make the most of it.”

How to Be Here: A Guide to Creating a Life Worth Living by Rob Bell
Overview: Drawing from his own experiences, the author provides guidance and insight on how to appreciate the gifts you have been given and use them to pursue your dreams. We all have a blank page and a blinking line waiting for us to start they story of our life. This book helps you break down that story into chapters and even paragraphs so it doesn’t become paralyzing.

Why I like it: With each new concept, I could easily identify areas in my life to apply them. Not only does the author discuss pursuing your purpose, he provides help for overcoming negativity from others (or yourself). He makes it clear that it’s not about having all of the answers. Instead focus on having the courage to start and the faith to figure out the rest as it comes.

Favorite quote: “Better to have a stomach full of butterflies than to feel like your life is passing you by.”

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
Overview: After her sister commented “You never say yes to anything,” Shonda resolved to begin saying yes at every given opportunity. This book details her journey, and illustrates the profound impact this decision has had on her life.

Why I like it: It’s TV genius Shonda Rhimes. It’s funny. It makes you want to start saying yes and fight that silly fear monster that has kept all of us from say yes at one point. Plus in the audio version, she plays the audio of her 2014 Dartmouth commencement speech, which is awe-inspiring in itself. Google it!

Favorite quote: “Stand up in front of people. Let them see you. Speak. Be heard. Go ahead and have the dry mouth. Let your heart beat so, so fast. Watch everything move in slow motion.”

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
Overview: This book tackles topics including self sabotage, fear, the law of attraction, working toward your goals, and learning to love yourself. The author takes concepts others in the life coach and personal development arena have addressed, provides her personal experience, and makes it relatable through some tough love.

Why I like it: I love this unapologetic, direct kick in the pants. It’s like getting life advice from your best friend, assuming your best friend is funny and enjoys occasional profanity. Through this book, you are encouraged to own up to the B.S. that keeps you from achieving your goals and loving yourself.

Favorite quote: ““You are a badass. You were one when you came screaming onto this planet and you are one now. The Universe wouldn’t have bothered with you otherwise. You can’t screw up so majorly that your badassery disappears. It is who you are. It’s who you always will be. It’s not up for negotiation.” And because I love this book so much, here’s another: “Deciding means jumping in all the way, doing whatever it takes, and going after your dreams with the tenacity of a dateless cheerleader a week before prom night.”

Turning Point

Have you ever been so overwhelmed by a thought you were moved to tears? I’m not talking about one or two building up in your eyes. No. I mean straight up ugly crying while you’re smiling like a crazy ex-girlfriend.

That moment came for me about a year ago. At that point I had been in the middle of a self-development kick, thanks to the encouragement of some awesome women I came to know in an MLM team. Through videos, audiobooks, and uplifting stories from others, I began to recognize the importance of positive thinking. I strengthened my relationship with God. And to the point of this story, I drilled in on the idea that we all have a specific purpose to contribute to this world, using the gifts God gave us.

Here’s where I got stuck – I had no clue what my purpose was. And to be perfectly honest, I still don’t know entirely. I knew accounting was my full time job, but it certainly was not my life’s purpose. Yes, I understand now that your career does not have to be your purpose, but a year ago I thought they had to go hand in hand. I enjoy my job (most days), but I have more to offer the world. So I prayed about it. I asked God to reveal the path I’m meant to follow.

This went on for a month or two with no indication, no inkling of an answer. Then one night in the shower (I’m not the only one that has my best thoughts there, right?!), I thought to myself “I don’t even know what else I would do if I wasn’t an accountant. Except writing.” Cue the light bulb above my head, fireworks, ugly crying, and crazy smile.

I just stood there. Now what? I knew I had to start writing, but that’s about all I knew. I went to the store the next day and bought a spiral notebook. I set a daily reminder in my phone to make sure I wrote consistently. It’s still there. When it goes off, I make sure I start writing if I haven’t already. Some nights I work on various projects I have in process. Some nights I use writing prompts from Pinterest to get the creativity flowing. Other nights I just scribble out a bunch of gibberish. But I’m always writing. As the incredible Shonda Rhimes put it, “A writer is someone who writes every day. So start writing.”

I’m still not sure what I’m doing or where this passion will take me, but I know good things are to come. Writing wasn’t just something I did in high school and college to vent all of my feelings. It’s something God placed in my heart. I foolishly walked away from it when life got busy. And God showed me grace by placing in back in my heart so strongly that I could no longer ignore it. This was my turning point.

I’m far from perfect. I definitely don’t have all the answers. Heck, I have very few answers. But I want to share my journey on this path to discovering my purpose in the hopes that it will help others discover theirs. Who knows, we could start something great. Or this could be an epic fail. I hope you join me to find out how it ends.