Growing up, my family used plastic dishes (probably because we broke too many ceramic ones). We had brightly colored plates, bowls, and cups and it made setting the table lots of fun! When my sister was two, though, things got complicated. She had a special red bowl and it was the only bowl she would eat breakfast out of. If the bowl was dirty or couldn’t be found, she wouldn’t throw a tantrum; she simply refused to eat. Many mornings, Lindsey went without breakfast because she didn’t have her trusty red bowl.
It’s silly, of course, yet I’m not sure we are so different. It’s in our nature to want to be in control of our own circumstances. It makes us feel safe and comfortable; like we can predict and control what is to come. But that’s just it… we can’t predict or control what is to come! We can’t control the world, our circumstances, or the people around us. When we try, we are fighting an exhausting, losing battle. Instead of resisting our circumstances, we can learn to live in the present and accept things as they come. The Apostle Paul writes about this in his letters. He says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you,” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and “I do not speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Philippians 4:11).
I wonder how our relationships with God might change and grow if we were to live as Paul lived, being content and giving thanks no matter our circumstances. I wonder what would happen if during this Lenten season, we risked just letting things be, rather than trying to change and control the world and the people around us. How might God work in our lives if we were willing to trust and allow God to guide us through each new thing that comes?
May this be our prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.