“Lay down what’s good and find what’s best”
These few words from the bridge of Johnny Diaz’ song “Breathe” struck me from the first time I heard them. They appear simple at first glance, but the truth that they hold is much harder to wrestle with. And when I think about how this truth has made itself manifest in my life, my mind goes back to eighth grade.
“Hold everything in your hands lightly; otherwise, it hurts when God pries your fingers open.” — Corrien ten Boom
I vividly remember something my youth minister talked about one Wednesday night five years ago that hit me hard. He told us not to curl our fingers over the blessings that God has placed in our hands. He explained that many things God has blessed us with are for a season, and if we leave our hands open we can enjoy them. On the flip side, if our fists are clenched tightly on these blessings, we won’t see them as blessings anymore, but as things we are entitled to. When we do this, we get angry at God when He “dares to take them away” instead of thanking Him for blessing us with them in the first place.
To the extent that I understood this as a middle-schooler, I began trying to hold my hands open so that God could take out the “bad” things that I had sinfully clung to. I wanted Him to take the sins that I had learned to love, the things that had become idols… and that’s all well and good, but it wasn’t until much later that I understood the fullness of the message my youth minister had been trying to convey.
Flash forward to the fall of my junior year. I’ve told the story before of how I became extremely sick and all of the repercussions that the illness had on my life. That was most definitely a season of laying things down. And believe me, I hated it. I cried and complained throughout the entire process. I was mad. I didn’t understand. I chose not to believe that I would have to give anything up, I thought that I might be sick for a few months, but then I would bounce back to my old life… but that wasn’t going to be the case.
Some things, some of my favorite things — good things — I argued to God, I had to lay down permanently. Jobs, activities, hobbies, dreams… blessings… “God!” I pleaded, “Why would you take this? Isn’t this a good thing? It’s something I can use to honor You!” But the still, small voice inside of me was relentless, “Taryn, it’s time to let go.”
I didn’t understand then, I didn’t understand for a long time… I didn’t even want to understand for over a year. I knew that God was testing and strengthening my faith, but I never understood why He felt it necessary to take away such good things to do so. But standing here looking at my life today, comparing my life now to how it would be if those things hadn’t been laid down… I am starting to see why God did things the way that He did.
God helped me to find what was best. I fought it to the bone. I screamed and yelled and refused to submit peacefully to His will (which I should have known all along really was best). What was best, was certainly not what I thought it would be… but now, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
My life is so different now that it was two years ago. The things that consume my time, my dreams and hopes for the future… My life has changed more than I ever would have imagined. And I never would have experienced any of the amazing changes if I hadn’t had to lay down lots of things. Lots of good things. You see, there was nothing wrong with playing piano or my teaching job, I loved them, they were certainly good things. But God had something different, and so much better in mind for me.
What I have come to realize, is that God always wants the best for His children. Best doesn’t always mean easiest or most understandable or most fun, but I’ve never been disappointed by God’s best. And He often needs me to lay down all the things taking up my time and mind and energy so that my hands are empty and He can fill them with different things, better things. I don’t want to go down kicking and screaming anymore. I want to live in full surrender to my King, knowing His ways are always so much higher than mine. (Isaiah 55:9) I would be crazy not to trust that my all-knowing, all-loving Creator didn’t know what was best for me — so I want to start living like I truly believe He does.