“I can do it!”
“No, let me try!”
“I don’t need your help!”
If you’ve spent any time with children, chances are you’ve heard at least one of these phrases in their presence. Children have the desire to be independent and mobile, making their own decisions without the need for assistance. And yet, as adults, we lovingly watch and want to intervene. We say, “Please let me help you.” “I’ll be right here if you need me.” When the children in our lives suffer because of their own mistakes, we mourn with them. We are saddened by the consequences of their choices.
Can I let you in on a little secret? I’m twenty-seven years old, and my attitude often resembles that of a child. My obstinance is no longer cute and funny, though. It hurts me and others around me. And it hurts my God, a loving Father who longs to take my hand.
You see, in the past year or so, God has been slowly stripping away all of my pretenses, showing me who I really am and where my hopes and fears lie. He’s showing me just how much I need Him. And I don’t like it. I don’t want to need Him.
Sure, I can sing the songs with the rest of them on Sunday mornings, declaring my desperation for His presence in my life, but the bottom line is, I don’t want to need Him. I want to do everything on my own. I want to be able to love my husband unconditionally — on my own. I want to have patience and a smiling face for my precious third graders — on my own. I want to have more self-control and discipline with my eating and exercise habits — on my own.
The battleground for self-improvement is full of checkboxes, each one moving me to believe I have no needs. If I have no needs, I don’t have to admit my weaknesses. If I don’t have to admit my weaknesses, I don’t have to be vulnerable. If I’m not vulnerable, I don’t have to face the junk in my heart. And so the story goes.
God did not create me to walk through my life with a false sense of accomplishment as I put on a facade that fools the rest of the world. He created each one of His children with a purpose — to know Him and to make Him known. When I deny my need for Him, I deny myself the best life — a life full of joy and wonder as He takes me deeper into His presence. When I quench the Spirit by puffing myself up in pride, believing that I can do all things in my own “strength,” I’m exhausting myself and living a lie.
But when I lay it all at His feet and allow Him to strip me of the shame, insecurities, and lies- there is where I find breakthrough. He meets me where I am, holds me in His arms, and walks me through each season, lifting my eyes to see His light at every bend. He says:
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert… to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.” Isaiah 43:18-19,20b-21 ESV
So I open my clenched fists and write my to-do list in pencil. I give Him my plans and my desires and say, “Have. your. way.” When I surrender, I let God be God. I step off the throne of my own heart and acknowledge that I am His child. I relinquish my right to do things on my own and admit that He knows better. I ask Him to fill me with His Spirit and help me to walk in His love. In return, He fills my heart with a new song. I open my mouth, the words flow out, and His peace rushes in.
About the Author
Hey y’all! My name is Jessica Mathisen. I am a twenty-something newlywed living in Athens, Georgia. I work as a third grade teacher at a private Christ-centered school for inner-city kids. I love my Jesus, my husband, and my job. Oh, and my sweet little fur baby, Bailey. Most often I am found reading, writing, relaxing, or hanging out with friends and family. I love encouraging others to love Jesus right where they are.