This is a powerful sermon by Nadia Bolz-Weber, one of my favorite preachers these days. She speaks about death, resurrection, and broadening our vision beyond our disappointments.
My husband Jason often points out to me when I am “fretting.” This regularly looks like me trying to make sure I have managed every possible contingency for some situation or relationship so that there is as little likelihood of any adverse effect as possible. When I sit with what is behind the fretting, I think I am afraid of losing control of a situation. I get spiral-y about it: That if I don’t manage this now in this way, it will be even more difficult and uncomfortable to handle it later on.
I am always grateful for a call to not worry about controlling everything so much, which is what I hear out of this sermon. That I can’t know what I am attempting to control for, because I can only see so far, and so wide.
When I try to control everything, I am worried about what I might lose if I don’t have control. Would I lose this image of myself as independent if I have to borrow money from my parents? Would I lose the chance at a great job if I don’t maintain this relationship perfectly? It’s like I build this nest of things I can manage around me to protect me from the sucking vastness of ambiguity. I believe that being able to sit with ambiguity is crucial to most things in life–but it still scares the crap out of me.
The fascinating challenge I am coming to is: what would I worry about if I believe in a God in whom nothing, not even the finality of death, has the final word? This immensity of this notion is almost dizzying. That there is nothing that cannot be rebuilt in new ways, nothing that I can never come back from.
At On Tap last week, we talked about dry bones in Ezekiel 37 and resurrection. Someone pointed out that with resurrection, things don’t come back the exact same. New life is not just old life revived; it is something altogether new. It has new qualities, new textures, touches new places. How freeing it is to hope in a God who does not renew things in the image of what I would want to see again, but deals in spaces where we are surprised by joy.
This calls me to release some of that control, that fretting doesn’t get me anywhere because the most life-giving things in my life may not look the way I expected them to. And I’m terrible at not attempting to control things. Despite what I can aspire to, I still fear loss. But I can practice it, and hold those times when I am reminded to release that tight fist close. And, like anything practiced, it gets easier and more natural the more you do it.
So I’ll keep practicing.