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Exchanging Control for Thanksgiving

April 2, 2012

Despite the Heels’ disappointing loss the weekend before last, I still have enjoyed watching many of the NCAA games this Spring. Part of this is because I did not have time to watch the tournament in the prior years due to Sydney’s illness. While getting emotionally invested in the games, I’ve noticed an interesting behavior in myself and others. We want our team to win so badly, but we are completely unable to do anything about it. However, we still try. We shout directions to the players, telling them what to do, what not to do, and how to handle specific situations. We commentate on who the coach should play, what he should tell his players, and what specific plays to call. Even worse, when the game is over, we speculate on what they should’ve or could’ve done better.

In response to my behavior during last weekend’s game, Vail said to me,”Dad, you couldn’t do any better.” And although I know this is true, I can’t help indulge the illusion of grabbing the steering wheel myself. There is something about wanting to be in control. One of the most excruciating parts of the defeat is not being able to do anything about it. Even though Kendall Marshall was out because of Creighton’s rough play, and even though the refs missed four travel calls (can you sense an edge here), we have to simply accept that what happened, happened. We are not in control.

I think this is the hardest part of life for me right now. After decades of working hard to put myself in a beautiful and comfortable life, I find myself in a place that is nothing like the life I designed. Despite all my efforts to the contrary, I am playing a hand that I never would’ve chosen in a million years. I am on a path that was forced upon me; this was not my doing.

So, I have a choice. I can fight it, or I can embrace it. Clearly, the later is the healthy route. However, I have to constantly ward off the inclination to push back, to wish life were different, to live begrudgingly, to reject my story.

But God consistently whispers the promise that none of this is without purpose. He is urging me to trust Him. I know it is not just me either. No matter where we are in life, we probably have something we just wish we could control, or could have controlled. Whether it is our life path, a relationship, our family, or our career, we are frequently desperate for something else, something more. The challenge is to let go, and to accept the things in life that are beyond our control, and even embrace them.

So I am working on embracing my place in life and moreover, being thankful for it. I am a single dad with three amazing children. I have a wonderful family, and amazing community and friends who love us well. I am learning to be okay with all of this, and even be thankful for the fact that I’m not in control. And I can truly say that I am beginning to see the fruits of it. As I finished working up a song on the mandolin on Saturday, I found myself laughing out loud with joy. I was having so much fun. And then I thought about how I would never have had the desire, or space in my evening schedule to learn a new instrument, if I wan’t in this precarious life situation.

I am currently reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, and I have been convicted to cultivate a life of thanksgiving. She points out how the first sin, in the Garden of Eden, was one rooted in ingratitude. Adam and Eve weren’t content with all that God had given them, they insisted on more. This was the last book Sydney was reading before she died. I recently passed her final bookmark, a couple of chapters in, and leave you with a quote near this mark in the book (sorry it is fairly long).

“I know there is poor and hideous suffering, and I’ve seen the hungry and the guns that go to war. I have lived pain, and my life can tell: I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks for early light dappled through leaves and the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July and the song of crickets on humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that a good God gives. Why would the world need more anger, more outrage? How does it save the world to reject unabashed joy when it is joy that saves us? Rejecting joy to stand in solidarity with the suffering doesn’t rescue the suffering. The converse does. The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world. When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows. How can this not be the best thing for the world? For us? The clouds open when we mouth thanks.”

From → Stories

  1. cc reynolds permalink

    God has used that book lately in my life to press in about thankfulness. Sometimes it feels so sacrificial to be thankful instead of controlling.
    Psalm 50:23 “The sacrifice that honors me is a thankful heart.”
    Thanks for sharing your heart

  2. sink kimmel permalink

    Thanks for sharing Todd… Love the quote.

  3. kristin murray permalink

    This couldn’t come at a more perfect time as my brother did his best to celebrate his 40th birthday this weekend without his wife physically by his side. I shared this with him and look forward to hearing his thoughts as he begins to explore your journey. Thank you, Todd. In light and love, kristin

  4. kat fritter permalink

    I have never highlighted a book as much as I did that one….so many great quotes and it really was a life changing book. So glad you are reading it…
    And glad to hear you are learning to play the mandolin! I cracked up that Jamie sent you that! I love it!

  5. Nancy Markle permalink

    I’ve been waiting for your post. I am in awe of each one. As a matter of fact, I read them more than once and often go back to them. I just want to say that I want to be one of many to receive a signed book, when you write it. Your words must be shared with the world. Thinking of you and your wonderful children so often. Blessing to you Todd!

  6. nataliesdavis permalink

    this is so empowering for me today, Todd, thank you so much for sharing. xo

  7. Laura Field permalink

    Todd, I enjoyed so much being with you the other night at Brittany and Carters. You surely do have three amazing children!! Loved the puppet show!! Thanks for showing such great courage.
    Honey Field

  8. lifeofkash permalink

    So grateful you are willing to share your jouney. Your posts are like services to me. Thank you. Kristin

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