Let’s give a warm welcome to today’s guest for the Unraveling Grace series. Courtney is an encourager who has a heart to follow God’s lead—even when it’s hard. Pull up a chair and savor a few moments of stillness.
Courtney Stanford is a passionate follower of Jesus, wifey to her handsome worship pastor hubby, Mama to three lively boys, and the keeper of a joyful home that she lovingly refers to as her “frat house.” An elementary-school teacher on hiatus, Courtney is a stay-at-home Mommy and writes to encourage other women in all seasons of life on her blog, Let Every Heart. She is a lover of written words, worshipful music, missional living and sweet tea! Courtney invites you to join her in the journey to follow Jesus on Twitter, Facebook, Pinteres
There is a place where fear meets faith. We give God our worry—surrender it to Him—and He carries us through this place of uncertainty.
Perhaps I complicate things. I’m all about following Jesus, really, I am. It’s the truest desire of my heart. And then there’s this thing that throws a wrench in that part of my heart—the part that desires to follow Him.
Confession time. Brace yourself, sweet readers:
I am a control-freak.
There. I said it.
I hold onto this little piece of who people expect me to be. I’m known for being organized and a go-getter. I keep a tight grasp on my daily planner, the family calendar and even my own ability to get things done. This ability to “get things done” sometimes becomes an idol in my heart called “control.”
As I prepare for another mission trip to Haiti, my control issues become oh-so evident. It’s embarrassing really.
I know there are people who can throw some things in a bag and go. As I pack my fifty pounds of “just-in-case” items, I can almost hear the haunting giggles of those “chill” people. They’re all cool with their one change of clothes and toothbrush. I’m all dorky with my bags of band-aids and Neosporin, you know? “just in case”.
Then it comes time to weigh the suitcase, it’s a whopping 63 pounds again. Of course it is, right?! Control doesn’t always zip neatly into a suitcase destined for a limitation of fifty pounds and below. Nope.
Control can get wildly messy, which is ironic because it’s supposed to keep my life orderly. (<===Click to Tweet)
My younger brother once said that he thinks Jesus would tell me, “Courtney, be still. Just be still.” I think that’s highly likely considering I’m not one to soak up the pauses in life. In fact, I’m one to FILL the pauses in life.
A song comes on the radio that reminds me to “be still”. I choose the stillness in the midst of the circus-act chaos of my motherhood responsibilities. I choose to be still.
With many tasks and many boxes to check off of today’s list, I lay them down at the feet of Jesus—for at least this moment in time. I set the breakfast bowls down. I kneel behind the kitchen island and close my eyes. I’m in the middle of surrendering my busy morning to Jesus when I hear a small voice say, “Mommy, what are you doing?”
“I’m praying Buddy,” I quickly respond in an almost-whisper, “Will you pray with Mommy?” At this point, my options are to either invite him to pray with me or forget the stillness. Again, I grasp for (some sort of) stillness.
“Yes!” shouts the four-year-old. He’s clearly more enthusiastic about early mornings than I am these days.
Now we are both praying, holding hands, on our knees in the kitchen, when an even tinier voice makes effort to clearly repeat his brother’s words, “Mama, what ‘er oo doin’?”
This toddler brings a smile to my face as I open my eyes to see his curiosity. He seems to find this act of stillness peculiar. He puts his chubby hands on his legs and kneels down to look into my eyes, with his head tilted to the side in confusion.
Now I’m praying with two of my children on the kitchen floor…and it’s a bit less peaceful than it was thirty seconds ago. I have to laugh when my quiet prayer time suddenly becomes a game of “Ring Around the Rosie.” We were holding hands in a circle, after all. It’s an honest mistake. I embrace the game and the stillness commences and it’s quite alright because God knows my heart. He knows my incomplete prayer was intended to surrender this day to Him.
I’m laying down my plans because His are always better—I have seen this a million times, again and again.
I can tell of His faithfulness and the ways He has transformed my anxiety into peace.
He is gracious to change my heart when I ask Him to renew my mind with His ways.
My control and my will falls short of His infinite mercy on my life.
Jesus meets me in this place where I hand my fear to Him. He exchanges my fear for faith. His peace covers my fear like a blanket.
Jesus reminds me that this suitcase is just stuff.
No one ever died from forgetting a carabiner for her water bottle.
No one ever added a day to his life by worrying.
No one ever brought God glory by holding the reigns of control so tightly.
No, I have to give that all to Him. In my busyness, He reminds me to give Him control. He has this. He always has. Praise the Lord that He is the one holding my life in His hands and guiding my footsteps! I don’t have to take the lead. I can follow Jesus. He is worthy of every ounce of faith that my heart can surrender.
From my heart to yours,
1) Is there an area of life in which you idolize “control”? May I encourage you, sweet friend, to surrender that area to Jesus?
2) Do you find it challenging to be still? Ask God to show you opportunities for peace and rest in Him. Is there a distraction that you can quiet to focus on your Heavenly Father? May you place it in His hands and be overwhelmed by His perfect peace.
P.S. Get caught up on the Unraveling Grace series here:
January: Hurts, Hope and Healing by Jennifer Watson
February: For the One Who Doubts God’s Sovereignty by Abby McDonald
March: Beating Inflating Fears by Kelly Balarie
April: When Life Unravels and You’re Barely Hanging On by Bethany Huff and Function in Chaos by Renee Griffin
May: Not that “Be Still” Thing Again! by Amy Dalke and Getting A Grip By Loosening It by Celeste Barnard
P.P.S. My husband and I wrote a song about being still. It’s called, Completely. Head on over to purchase it for only 99 cents.
Lauren English says
Thanks for sharing this, Courtney! I’m a control freak too, and I feel like God constantly has to open my clenched fists and reminds me that what He gives is almost always better than what I could control and get for myself. Thanks for this reminder on a Thursday morning!
I agree Lauren! May we trust Him enough to live with unclenched fists and open hands.
Sabra Penley says
What a sweet picture of you and your little ones. God is showing me more each day to embrace whatever comes by weaving it into my schedule and continuing to praise and serve Him with joy. I’m not doing it well yet, but I do see progress of His work in my heart. Thanks, Courtney!
Love that insight Sabra…to weave whatever comes our way into our schedule.
Courtney, I’m another control freak. (Except I call myself a control queen.) Your suitcase story made me laugh, but your story of surrendering your day to Jesus brings a longing for more of Him to my heart. Going to turn off my computer early this evening and just “BE.”