Life happens

I like to be in control. You like to be in control. We all like to be in control of our life and its events. Being in control of one’s self and one’s life is the holy grail of our culture. If I have enough power, enough money, enough influence I can be safe and secure and not worry. Yet I recall my grandfather telling me that “life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.”

I received a phone call telling me that my mother has stopped making progress in her rehab from her surgery last September and is slipping. Tests are possible to determine what may be happening but at age 92 options are somewhat limited as to treatment and efficacy versus maintaining the best quality of life for her. We are in an uncomfortable waiting time. We do not know what is happening to this feisty, independent woman who suddenly found herself and her life wrested out of control.

She spent much time over her years trying to make good decisions so that she maintained control of herself and her life. She never liked nor wanted to be in a health care facility – but there she is. And up to this time she has maintained her dignity, her sense of self and even a bit of feistiness and humor.

I am coming to realize that control is an illusion – an illusion we believe we need in order to think we are safe from the unknown.  Until life happens and we find that we are not in control – that God is not in control – that no one is really in control. Life happens as people and circumstances interact and all our choices and random circumstance mingle to change the outcomes we expect. The question is not who is in control but how do you, how do, I react, respond and recover our balance when life happens.

I know only too well that the chances are good that I will hit some circumstance that will remove from me my sense of control – and life will take me for a roller coaster ride once again. But if I am able here and now to learn to rest in God’s care and love whenever life happens I will know I do not need to be in control. For that promise and assurance that God is Emmanuel – with us – cannot be taken from me.


About don

The Rev Don Hill is an Episcopal priest, rail fan and writer. He and his wife the Rev. Dr. Nancy Woodworth-Hill are currently Co-Pastors of St Paul's Episcopal Church, Jeffersonville IN, in the Diocese of Indianapolis. They also work as parish consultants in Appreciative Inquiry, strategic planning and spirituality development for parishes and vestries.
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