One of my biggest challenges with trusting my Higher Power is accepting when I don’t get what I want.
Let me give you an example. I have struggled my whole life with procrastination. It was bad, really really bad. And man, the shame that went with it was enormous. Seriously, my self-esteem was just getting crushed by this defect because I truly believed I’d never amount to anything because I struggled so much to get the things done that I needed to get done.
Work was piling up. Laundry was piling up. Dirt was piling up in my house. Phone calls and emails weren’t being answered, I just felt so overwhelmed.
I just couldn’t stay on top of any of it.
And OMG, I did everything I could to end the procrastination. I did counseling, I read books on productivity and planning, I’d create study groups when I was in grad school.
And nothing changed.
It even seemed that not even the program could touch it.
I was really frustrated and really pissed at God.
I mean, I’d looked at that 7th Step Prayer and I was pretty damn sure that procrastination was getting in the way of my usefulness, so why wouldn’t God take it away?
I talked with a program friend about my procrastination and she said two priceless things to me. One was a firm belief she had about God, the second was a question.
So, the firm belief about God?
God never says no.
God NEVER says no.
Wow, that was a pretty radical concept for me!
But what I didn’t realize is that I kept thinking God just callously didn’t care because this defect that was causing me so much pain was still there.
But what my friend said is that, if God hasn’t said yes, then it just meant that God has either said not yet, or that God had a better idea.
So, God never says no. God only says, yes, not yet, or I have a better idea.
Now, I still struggled with this because I couldn’t fathom why NOW wouldn’t be the time to remove this defect, nor what idea could possibly be better than removing this defect.
And that’s where that second question came in:
What is the exact nature of your wrong?
Suffice it to say that the exact nature of my wrong was NOT procrastination. It was a number of things, some of which were not even wrongs. But when I first asked the question, what was revealed was perfectionism.
And then, years later, I was diagnosed with ADD.
Holy cow, did that explain a lot! That diagnosis gave me a ton of relief and allowed me to start to forgive myself a little.
Except for one little thing.
I couldn’t take the meds.
So I had to go through this same process again. Seemed so unfair that my Higher Power would finally reveal the source of my problem and then deny me the means to fix it.
Turns out, only some of the problem was ADD, but the diagnosis had given me a little bit of grace and breathing room which allowed me to open up a little more to God’s plan, and perhaps ‘better ideas.’
God’s plan was as gentle as possible.
It started with the dishes. The dishes that had piled up so high my sink was probably becoming a science experiment.
Those dishes, and then a damn miracle.
A miracle in the form of a thought that had NEVER occurred to me before.
I just looked at those dishes, the dishes that had made me so disgusted with myself before and said, “It’s OK.”
“If the dishes become a science experiment, it’s OK.”
“If they don’t get done for days, it’s OK.”
When I had that thought, a sense of peace came over me that I had so rarely felt in my life.
You see, did I mention how horribly I had been beating myself up over this defect?
Did I mention how horribly cruel my thoughts about myself were about how this defect showed up in my life?
Did I mention that I truly thought I was a sorry excuse for a human being for having this defect and all the problems it was causing?
And then, boom! All of a sudden, out of the blue, a LOVING thought I had never heard myself think before.
But with that thought, there it was, the exact nature of my wrong.
It was something I never would have pinpointed.
Which is a much, much bigger problem than procrastination and ADD combined.
My Higher Power knew what he was doing. And God was nowhere near the callous uncaring being I had made him out to be.
Because, had I found the answer to my procrastination, had I been able to take meds for the ADD, I might never have addressed this other, much more profoundly harmful defect.
And what a surprise! Although I still don’t keep my kitchen in spotless shape all the time, I do more and more frequently and my dishes have never piled up like that since.
The procrastination is still a challenge for me, but it’s nothing like it was and, not surprisingly, improves the gentler I can be with myself.
Oscar Wilde famously said “To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long friendship.”
That friendship started the day I looked at something I really didn’t like about myself and said, “It’s OK.”
So God definitely had a much, much better idea.
Now, I’d like to hear from you: Where have God’s ideas been much better than yours or where have you recognized the exact nature of your wrongs? Share your experience, strength and hope in the comments. I read every one.