The one about God’s “perfect will”

I’m a bit of a control freak. (I know this fact comes as no surprise to those of you who know me.) I like to have things go the way I want them. I plan things to a minute degree. Being a worrier and a control freak often go hand in hand especially in moments where I feel out of control. Learning to let go and not worry so much is something I am constantly working on. I find it’s the hardest to let go during periods of transition. When I’m in a place where I’m making decisions about my life I can feel my blood pressure rising as I start to worry about the inevitable ways I will screw up my choices. There’s one phrase in particular that if I hear it during the times I’ve just described I will lose my mind. I’m talking about the phrase “the perfect will of God.”

Christians love to talk about God’s perfect will. It comes up in prayers. (Lord, we just pray that you will bring about your perfect will.) It comes up when talking about jobs. (Lord, is this job in your perfect will for me?) It comes up in relationships. (Is this person God’s perfect will for me?) For those of us who like to be in control at all times, the idea of a perfect will of God just might be the most stressful thing we have ever dealt with. What if I make a wrong choice? What if I take the wrong job? What if move to the wrong state? What if I marry the wrong person?

What if,

What if,

What if,

I’m in a time of transition in my life. (Ugh, I hate that even typed such a cliche sentence, but it really is true) And sure enough the need to constantly be in control is becoming an issue again. What if I choose the wrong thing and then my whole life is screwed up? When I start to spiral like this I try to remember the most comforting debunking of God’s perfect will I’ve ever heard. During college I had a Bible professor who brought up this very topic. He first asked how many of us had dealt with the pressure of choosing God’s perfect will in the past. After some discussion he used the following illustration to shatter all of our illusions about God’s will.

God’s will is like a playground. When you take a child to a playground you don’t tell them “Okay, you need to swing on the swings for twenty minutes. Then you need to go down the slide eight times. Only after you do those two things can you go on the jungle gym.” No, instead you tell the child, “You can play on anything at this playground for as long as you want, just don’t leave the playground.” That’s just how God is with our life choices. There are certain parameters he sets up like a fence around a playground. But, that fence encompasses a giant space. He looks at his children and he says. “Go play. Go play and have fun.”

How freeing was this analogy for me? I almost did cartwheels out of the classroom that’s how awesome I felt. Now, when I start to feel anxiety creep up when I have to make a big decision I remind myself to just play on the playground. I no longer believe there is a perfect will for my life. I believe there are lots of good choices and whichever one I pick becomes God’s perfect will for me. Are there some choices that might be better than others? Possibly. If your child isn’t that great on the swings and chooses to spend their time there instead of the slide that might not be the best choice. But does it ruin their life? Nope. There’s room for correction. Everything doesn’t have to be set in stone.

So, I’ve got some decisions I have to make soon. The part of me that needs to feel in control is freaked out. But the part of me that is secure in my creator’s love for me reminds the rest of my brain to relax and enjoy this part of my life. Go and play on the playground. It’s going to be a great day.

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