Thursday, September 27, 2012

Unpacking and Practicing “Turning it over to God”

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
James 1:2-4
“Commit your life to the Lord, Trust in Him and He will act” Psalm 37
It is funny, if there is ever an hour I wonder about what I am going to write about the following week in this blog, circumstance seems to put something right in front of me the next hour.
As many of you know, I took the LSAT this past June. The 6 months before the LSAT I spent a lot of time thinking, worrying, talking about and studying for this test. I received some promising scores on practice tests hinting that I was improving- yet alas when it came to test time I (in my personal opinion) utterly failed to perform. So now, after taking some time off this summer I am at the test again striving to improve my score in order to get into a top Law school.
This week I took my first practice sections again. For an observer it probably would have been comic to watch my personal tragedy unfold. I utterly failed the sections, getting barely half the questions right. Although I had promised myself this summer I wouldn’t take the test as seriously as I did last spring- all of my doubts and frustrations resurfaced immediately. I bemoaned my lack of intelligence, skill; worried I wouldn’t get into school ever, etc. etc. Driving home from my study spot I was quickly in tears under the weight of imminent failure. The test loomed once again as a monster I could not seem to conquer no matter what mental or emotional strategy I threw at it.
At the end of the night in bed after I had calmed down I asked myself “Where is God in all of this?” After a bit of thought about how the past spring had gone, I realized he wasn’t involved at all. Why? Because I had consistently taken the attitude that the test was my struggle and mine alone. And I was the only one who had the power to deal with it, learn it, and preform it. The test and God were two very separate things in my mind.
I think I was afraid to let God into this one, because I have been scared all along he doesn’t want me to go to Law school. He would rather I did something else. I was afraid taking the test was actually defying him. So now in the face of these fears surfacing, how do I let him into my LSAT experience? How do I listen and be guided by God in this situation? Do I give up on the test? Do I keep going? How in all of this do I best follow him? How do I listen, trust and ultimately let him make the call rather than my ego?
The phrase many Christians (and perhaps those of other faiths) would use in this situation is: “Turn it over to God”. Now, I think if someone had told me to do this last night amidst my upset, I would have freaked. Not only is the statement cliché but it is very loaded with undefined action and significance.
I did discover that this is the third step to the “twelve steps of AA” which my Aunt Linda sited in a previous comment. Check out the link for the steps below:
This reminded me that “turning something over to God” is indeed an well-tested and important practice- even if initially hard to understand. I think it ties in pretty closely to the theme of humility I explored earlier in the blog.
Here is another individual’s blog post on the internet I found which does a fantastic job of unpacking the concept of “turning something over to God” and rooting it in experience, check it out:
I have taken the three steps from the blog of following through with “turning something over to God” and attempting to apply my own example to it:
1.      Follow the path of peace:

Pray to God about the LSAT and be willing to include him in the process. Listen to what about taking or not taking the test gives me peace. Be open to seeing the situation in a different way. Be mindful of what makes me uneasy, but don’t assume too much about what God wants and/or how things are supposed to work out.

2.      Stop pursuing paths that unnecessarily distract from living my vocation to the best of my ability:
(Aka stop banging your head against the wall). Let go of my old way of dealing with the LSAT: which is drawing vast conclusions every time I receive a score. Stop letting the scores and what they mean consume my mind, and stop walking around grouchy and irritated because I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders with this test. Trust that the time to study and the proper results will come if they are supposed to; but will ultimately stay in balance with the rest of my life.
3.      Keep the ultimate goal in mind:
Keep in perspective what I am ultimately committed to and why I am taking the test. Originally all I saw the test as was to “get into law school and succeed in life as I should”. Now, to turn it over to God is to focus on taking the test is only worthwhile if it helps fulfill the goal of “knowing, loving and serving God and humanity”. I see law school as a way to help me develop certain skills that can ultimately contribute and give to others. If God is behind me on contributing to others in this way, then he will support me in succeeding on the test.
So in conclusion- I am going to use this test and channel the adversity/frustration it ensues into an opportunity to persevere and develop my relationship with God through trust. And I am going to keep this trial of mine in perspective, as although it is a big deal to me it hardly compares to many other trials people around the world are enduring right now. It is a luxury to be able to worry about continuing education in the grand scheme of things.
And we will see how things turn out with the test- maybe I will not perform well again and I need to listen to that message. Maybe by including God I will do better than I currently think is possible. I think the trick is continuing on while being open to both of those possible results and not giving into fear and expectation. I hope those in my life will hold me to this- and if anyone hears me worrying or griping about the test out loud will remind me of this post.
For those interested in responding, do you have an example of “turning something over to God” in your life? What does this phrase mean to you and how does it play out in your experience? I would be very curious to hear and know myself and others could benefit greatly by learning from your experience.


  1. When I think of turning my life and my will over to God, I don't see it as abandonment or passive activity. I like the idea of sharing the yoke with Christ, Matthew 11:28 - 30. I am willing to do all that I can do, willing to work hard, willing to pull hard on the yoke. But since I am tethered to Christ as my partner, he is doing the heavy lifting and he makes my burden lighter.
    God often has presented me with a Plan B in my life, and two strong examples of this would be our move to Florida and the death of Jonathan. In both cases there was no recourse but to trust that somehow God could use even the worst circumstances to achieve some higher good. Even as we still grieve the loss of Jonathan, as well as all our dreams and hopes and 21 years of "hard work" on his behalf, I also see that God is opening doors of ministry and hope to me as our family heals. I can be with others who have suffered great loss and share deeply with them, and I know that I have a gift to give them that few can offer. And I also know that Jonathan is safe from the disease of addiction and is not suffering anymore. I look forward to knowing him again, but know that he has graduated to a better place now and is healed and whole in a way he could not find on this earth.
    So Plan B or Plan C can have great merit, but it takes courage to change course. I think Plan A is sometimes of human origin, whereas Plan B or C may be more inclusive of God's intervention. I am trying to say that being open to Plan B can be a very freeing option!

  2. Thank you for sharing, Kelsie. I remember feeling that life out of college presented me with so many questions, as I came out of college so very confident, ready to take on the world and change it, sure I had the power to do it . . .very very sure of myself! Then I was faced with so very many choices, career paths, struggling with humility as I had always felt that doors were wide open for me and now some were closing, others I had to choose or not choose and then when I made my choice they would close . . .it was a struggle for me. I relate in many ways to your past posts and this one, and I wish I could reach back in time to the person I was then and help her realize the perspective that you are trying to gain--that I am one very important person--but no important than any one else. That my struggles are small in comparison to most. That God is there and will guide me if I include Him and let Him into my struggles. If I am willing to "go with" the answers he gives, even if they are plan B or C or D. So, from my pespective, just by being able to write this down and share these thoughts you are on the path that God intends for you, Kelsie, regardless of the outcome of your tests. I try to keep in mind that my purpose in life is to reflect God's light, not to try to shine on my own. God will shine through me if I include Him and if I try to shine without Him I will burn out quickly as he is the star, not me. He is in charge and the illusion that I am in charge or by any means self-made needs to quickly change. But that all takes some time especially coming out of the utopia of college!
    As for me, parenthood has definitely been the ultimate test of "letting go and letting God" as we have these precious babies and from the moment we know they are on the way our thoughts are filled with "are they healthy, how will I do this, what to feed them, dress them . .." we manage every detail of their lives . . .what clases they take, who will babysit them, what school they will go to . . . until we realize they truly are not ours and we have to "give" them back to God, to the world . . .they walk out of the home and to school each day and we lose control of what they hear and learn and it is all very humbling and challenging for me. It is hard enough learning to trust God with my own life, but learning to trust him with my kids lives . . .oh, that is a daily challenge that was made a lot harder when I lost my brother in mid-pregnancy with River. But still, I choose to trust, to love without guarantee, to pray the serenity prayer for my kids and myself. And I shake my fists at the stars and tell Uncle Jay he'd better take good care of his nephew and neices . . .I picture him as their angel and I trust him with them daily--for some reason the image helps me immensely in calming down about them--because I know Jonathan is in a better place. I hope my rambling thoughts help--thanks for your thoughts and my prayers are with you as you stretch and grow in this stage of life that is often so humbling and confusing. God is working in you, keep trusting that!