Good morning from Westminster, MD!
In talking to a friend recently about my experiences in Nicaragua, something that I have been learning subconsciously became a conscious thought for maybe the first time – I am not fully in control of the outcome of my work. I know that may sound like an excuse for failure, but that is not at all the case. Over my time in Nicaragua, I have come to realize that I am more finite that I ever knew. While this has been a challenging and humbling experience, it has also been incredibly freeing. In fact, coming to the conclusion that I cannot control much of the world around me has allowed me to better focus on the things that I can control. This has very much changed my perspective on the ups and downs of trying to be a part of something bigger than myself.
Being a part of something bigger than yourself by definition makes you somewhat smaller. It is impossible to commit to advancing such a goal without first admitting that it is more important than your pride and ego. I think it has been going through this process that has led me to where I am today. In the past, I have experienced times of extreme frustration when an outcome did not turn out the way I expected, despite my hard work and commitment. Certainly there were many times when I could have done something to improve the end result and I have learned a lot from those moments. There were also many instances, however, when I had done everything I could to ensure success as I saw it, but still came up short. It has been those moments in Nicaragua that has taught me so much about this topic. In the end, my job is to do my part to the best of my ability and trust that God is in control of the rest. This realization has brought life to words in Proverbs, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV)
This outlook does require a lot of honest self-reflection about our own performance as it can certainly become an excuse for laziness when taken out of context. We need to clearly understand what our part is and what is out of our control. My belief is that a clear understanding of this actually frees us to thrive because we are living the way we were created to instead of trying to lives as if we are God. This means a willingness to believe that we cannot see the whole story and that outcomes contrary to what we envisioned are part of a bigger plan. I am still a work in progress when it comes to living this way on a daily basis, but I am hopeful that I will move a little closer every day. I am committed to doing everything I can do with excellence and putting the rest in God’s hands. What will you do?
– James Belt