Was I the only kid who thought they could singlehandedly control the universe?
Most of you know I’ve wrestled with insomnia ever since I can remember. Up until pretty recently, I believed that if I didn’t think the phrase I’m not sleeping tonight when I was in bed then I’d have a decent chance at actually falling asleep. Mind you, I could think all sorts of variations of that phrase and still be okay. I hate insomnia. Why can’t I fall asleep? What time is it? How many hours until my alarm goes off? Those were all fair game. But the second I thought the words I’m not sleeping tonight I was done for. Game over. That’s all she wrote. All Nighter City, USA, population: ME.
I also remember refusing to wear pants to school in the winter because I just knew that if I wore shorts, then it would most certainly warm up outside. If I were a fourth grader in 2011, my mom would get called by child services and I’d probably get taken away to a foster home of some sort. But thankfully, for my sake, they didn’t care so much back in the early 90s.
In my mind, this made sense. It was my world after all. Why wouldn’t it do what I told it to?
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that this phenomenon hasn’t gone away entirely. Rather, it’s morphed and matured just as I have. Just like ten year old Lindsay wore shorts to force the weather to do her bidding, twenty-five year old Lindsay uses perfectionism as a tool to make sure that bad things don’t happen to her or her friends. If I lead a good life and do good things and say nice things and love people and smile and laugh all the time, I won’t get hurt. And, more importantly, my friends won’t get hurt. I mean, if I can make the weather change then I can do anything. Just leave it to me, guys. Lindsay’s got your back.
Sadly, that’s not the way the world works.
The past year I’ve been hit several times with the realization that I’m not in control of anything. A handful of my friends have had to endure the worst types of loss, heartbreak, and sorrow I have ever seen in my life. Marriages have dissolved. Babies have been lost. Families have been broken. As horrible as it is to see them suffer, it’s just as painful for me to feel so unbelievably helpless. I can’t do anything to fix it. I can’t say a magic phrase in my head that would remove their pain. I can’t put on some shorts and will them into happiness. I have nothing. All I can do is stand there awkwardly, my eyes flooded with tears, and ask them what I could possibly do to help.
Pray for me.
Let me cry on you.
Just be there.
Don’t do anything.
How is any of that good enough?! While their hearts are throbbing in pain, all I can do is simply pray? Let them cry? But it needs to be fixed! How can I fix it? And how could I possibly let this pain happen in the first place? How, while being their friend, did I let them experience such heartache? What was I doing when I should have been saying the right things and doing the right things? What was I doing when I should have been protecting them?
A couple I know lost their first child three months ago. Just today, the father posted the entire story on his Facebook so that anyone who wanted to know what happened could. While reading it, I got that familiar sense of failure in my stomach. I did it again. I didn’t protect them from pain. I missed it. I wasn’t paying close enough attention.
But then I read a section that made everything in my body freeze.
Her eyes finally opened, and before I could say a word, she said “we lost her, didn’t we?” I nodded yes, holding her hand and sobbing. Her reaction was completely different than mine (granted she had just woken up from surgery), and it gave me so much peace. All she said was, “It’s okay…..God is in control.” With that, she fell back asleep.
I am not in control. I am not in control. I am not in control.
[Disclaimer: Per my New Years Resolution to only post positive things on the Internet, please know that this is not a negative post. This is merely a reality check post.]