An important lesson in twelve-step programs has been I can’t control other people’s choices – I can only control my own. Letting go, and letting God be in charge of my life and the lives of others has been the simplest tenet to believe, but the hardest to practice consistently.
It’s hard because I didn’t get to this ripe old age and stage without learning a few things that could really help people! Then I remember Flannery O’Connor’s disturbing short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” Every time I read it* I swear I will never read it again! I would never be so pigheaded, irritating, and stupid as this old woman!
Well, not yet, anyway.
The unnamed grandmother in that story did her family no favors by insisting on her own way! It is a brilliant, troubling fictional dramatization of Solomon’s warming – there’s a way that seems right to us, but its end is death. (Proverbs 16:25)
All that the grandmother wanted was for her family to do things her way: avoid the Misfit and go her way – and its end was merciless death.
Well, my advice is not that bad!
Almost as if God cleared His throat, I received this counsel in my email from friend and fellow student of recovery. It read as if it might be a summary of what happened to the grandmother and her family – and reinforces the difficulty and the hazards of not resigning as ruler of the universe:
We used to feel that if other people would only listen to us and do things our way, everything would run a lot more smoothly and life would be better for everyone. Of course, it never turned out as we expected. Our past ways of doing things usually resulted in conflict or disaster of one kind or another — even though that’s precisely what we hoped to avoid . . .
The greatest act of faith is when a man decides that he is not God.— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Trusting that an infinite and personal God can and will sort things and people and troubles out, especially when I ask, is, as the judge says, the greatest act of faith I can decide, usually on a moment to moment basis. I can’t change people or their choices – but by God’s grace, I can change my choices, just for today – especially if anyone suggests a road trip!
How are you doing, dear reader, trying to manage the dear hearts who just will not do things your way? Praying the Lord gives us both the courage and will to let Him have who and what we cannot control!
Love in Christ,
Sober and Grateful
A LINK to the story: * A Good Man is Hard to Find — a scarier cautionary tale has never been written!