People say my cousin looks just like Muhammad Ali. They’re probably right, but I’ve known him far too long to see the resemblance. He’s my older cousin and the only boy on that side of the family. When we were younger, I pretended he was my brother . Since I’m the oldest in my sibling set, he was my only hope of ever having a big brother. I don’t think he was too thrilled.
When my cousin was the age where boyhood starts to slip away, he took up weight lifting and always walked around with one of those grip strengtheners in his hand. I remember watching him stand around talking and all the while, he’d squeeze that hand grip thing. It looked like a piece of cake to me. He made it look easy, and I’m sure that was the point.
One day, I got my hands on that grip strengthener thing and I nearly broke my hand trying to squeeze it shut the way I’d seen my cousin do it. Turns out, I had a pretty weak grip.
I’m having a hard time staying calm these days. In my head, I can recite the whole “abide” thing, or I can do yoga until my muscles melt like butter into a pool on my pink yoga mat. But I can’t seem to get a grip.
My head hurts. My heart pounds. Deadlines pass me by with hardly a tip of their pulled-tight hats. It’s the natural result of following these God-sized dreams of mine. It’s all good. Every single item on my list of things to do is a good thing. My cup overflows, and I am having trouble keeping my head above water.
The other night, I woke up with a gasp and found myself sitting straight up in bed, my mind spinning through a checklist of things I’d imagined I’d left undone. Turns out, I was all worked up over nothing. Like when you’re driving down the highway and think you may have left the iron on.
In the next few weeks, I’ll spend a lot of time in airports and in front of groups of amazing people. I’ll chill out in a house on the beach and work beside some of my favorite people to help make a home for a woman we haven’t met. I’ll spend five days in Haiti, where I imagine I’ll have a corner of my heart torn off for good. Along with some calming and supportive friends, I’ll officially announce a retreat I’ve been planning* for writers, bloggers, artists, entrepreneurs, and other fabulous people who have an amazing dream. I’ll fly to Texas to pour a bit of myself out beside the Frio River. Yes, it’s all good and in the end, I’ll be empty and full at the same time.
Trying to get a grip is wearing me out.
I shared my upcoming travel schedule with a friend and she replied, “I don’t know what to say about your travel schedule. Except God’s got a mighty good grip on you…” Her words puzzled me — totally, and completely — because it didn’t feel like God had a very good grip on me at all.
And that’s how I knew I was in too deep with my own agenda and my own way of trying to keep it together. It seems I am still grip-challenged.
I imagine you’ve got some God-sized dreams of your own and, while I can’t be sure, I’d guess you’ve had some moments where it seems you’ve also lost your grip. It’s the natural result of following these God-sized dreams of ours, without letting God take the lead. We find ourselves at the end of ourselves with no earthly idea of how to take the next step. Me? I cling tightly to the edge of the cliff, my feet dangling below me and the earth giving away beneath my fingers. That’s when God sends someone like my friend to whisper in my ear, “Just let go.”
His message always seems to come out of left field. It’s nothing like the other messages I hear; the messages that talk about bootstraps and success and five year plans and career paths and getting what we deserve and how God helps those who help themselves. When the ground at the edge of the earth is giving away and my instincts scramble to keep me from falling into the abyss, God whispers, “Just let go. I’ve got a mighty good grip on you.”
And I think to myself, “Yes, God. I hear you. And I’m gonna try that. As soon as I can get myself back up on that ledge up there.” See? Grip-challenged.
How’s your grip? Do you find it difficult to just let go? Are you hanging on to the edge of your very own cliff?
*If you’d like a hint about that retreat we’re planning, take a listen to this interview.