I’ve been very fortunate in my life in being able to achieve a majority of what I’ve wanted. As a fairly proactive person, I’m often the first to reach out, organize events, or try new things. If I want to meet new people, try out different activities, or even become someone different, I’ve always believed that I can create a pathway to it. 

I never thought that I struggled with a need to control my life. Instead, I used to see myself on the opposite side of the spectrum, embracing change and flexibility, adapting to any situation. But halfway through last semester, things started breaking down. I realized that my need for control was actually very present. In fact, it had turned into a force controlling me. 

I felt like I was constantly falling short. I had these perfect images of what friendships, a career, and a lifestyle in college should look like. They were so ingrained in my head that I felt lost and bewildered when my circumstances failed to live up to my expectations. 

I felt terrified, frantic, scattered, and completely out of control when I found myself without new pathways to create. Everything I wanted to change about my life loomed over me.

I tried to solve things by taking even more initiative. I became even more self-reliant, trying every possible way to shape my life into what I wanted. I scheduled coffee chats, joined every club I could think of, and reached out to friends as much as I could. But at some point, it felt like I was fighting against a current just to sustain this shell of an image. 

To be honest, I felt frighteningly far from God that entire semester. I had been struggling in my relationship with Him ever since the pandemic. At some point, I had just turned numb. I started treating God like He was just on the back burner, like He wasn’t a part of my daily life. I would only pray to Him in the tough and unbearable moments then turn back to my apathetic complacency, filling my emptiness with entertainment, gossip, and a full social schedule. I would wonder “how exactly did I get here?” In freshman year, I had felt the closest to and most loved by Him. And now, I saw the Creator of the Universe as a last resort. 

The farther I ran from Him, the harder the world felt. Simple joys that used to bring excitement felt so dry, the future so bleak. But still, I ran. And with that, this need for control over my life compounded. The pressure I put on myself, the unhappiness I felt in comparing myself with others—I spent a good amount of the semester unsatisfied, terrified that I was missing out on things other people had, instead of appreciating everything that I did.Then winter break: a song came onto my Spotify that touched me in an inexplicable way. It was a song called Jireh, that speaks about His unimaginably relentless love and finding pure contentment in Him. Finding a direct translation of what Jireh means is a bit tricky, but after some quick Googling, I think it has two main meanings:

  1. Jehovah-Jireh: a name meaning “the Lord will provide”.
  2. Jireh: a Hebrew word that actually has a lot of different meanings compiled into one: abundance, sustenance, fulfillment, revival. “In other words, all the ways God can bless a person.”

It was a total mindset shift. I will be content, in every circumstance were words that pointed at hope in the midst of my jaded apathy. I’ll never be more loved than I am right now felt electric, promising that in a hurricane of change, He never would. You would cross an ocean, so I wouldn’t drown rang out to me: no matter how far I had run, there was nothing He would not or will not do to pull me back. 

Last year was a painfully difficult one, with moments in which I barely recognized myself. There still remains a hard path in front of me in learning how to give up complete control. But I’ve realized it’s a path that I don’t have to walk alone. In fact, it’s not a path where I have ever truly been alone. I’ve also come to realize that perfect images might just be that: images, a snapshot of a moment that may have some truth to it, but can never truly represent the whole picture. 

Perhaps it’s not so much the things themselves we chase: the perfect social group, the job offer, or the grades. It’s what lies behind them: belonging, security, and achievement. I think this verse in Matthew is such a good reminder that assurance of the future has already been provided and offered to us. This semester, I want to give up my fears, expectations, and regrets to Him. I want to remember and believe–the Lord does provide. 

“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you?” 
-Matthew 6:30a

*Italicized text from Jireh by Elevation Worship and Maverick City Music

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