I don’t know where you land on the Enneagram. (Here’s a great book for beginners. Also, here’s a quiz.)
I’m solidly a 6 with a 5 wing. In a nutshell, it means I have a bajillion worst case scenarios in my head at any moment. Seriously. They play over and over. It’s loud in here, man. So many what-ifs.
What if someone sees my children on social media and finds them in real life and I never see them again? Do I allow them to go over to their friend’s house? What are their parents like? Are they safe? What if the doctors find something on my mammogram? What if my children turn away from God? What if I completely and utterly wreck them as a mom? … and that’s just for starters.
It may seem counterintuitive but I’ve found the only way to shut them up – or at least dampen the sound – is to let the scenario play out in all it’s hypotheticalness.
So what if there is something on my mammogram besides dense tissue? Well, I have good doctors and they know how serious my family history is. Whether it’s chemo, surgery or whatever, it’s all doable. Not easy. It won’t be that. But it’s not the end of the world – and God helping me, I will fight with all I have for however long I have. I will not rollover and let it take me.
And just like that, the paralyzing “what if” turns manageable. Knowing I’m doing all the preventative and proactive things I can, my brain drops it… and moves on to the next one.
So you get the idea.
The other day, it occurred to me that for most of our marriage I’ve lived as though something bad was waiting just around the corner at any given moment. Birthdays, Christmas, little baby laughs, whatever it was… there was always something popping up in my peripheral to take my attention from the joy of the moment. The proverbial shoe waiting to drop.
Writing those words made me sit back and think.
If there could be a shoe that is arbitrarily waiting to drop, then I had a huge problem.
First and most horribly, God isn’t good. There is no good father that would gleefully hover a disaster over his dearly loved children just to see what would happen – hoping maybe they would finally pay attention to him.
If God isn’t good, then I have no hope whatsoever. I have no comfort, no way of trusting a capricious deity who would play with my hopes and dreams, tossing them wherever he so chooses. He certainly isn’t the embodiment of love.
And… if all the above is true about him, then I better do all I can to continuously control every situation I possibly can and always be ready for every possibility and eventuality. Because the only person I can really count on is myself.
Sneaky, right?! Theology matters.
Once I stopped to reverse engineer the idea of the proverbial shoe waiting to drop, I realized THERE IS NO SHOE! There can’t ever be a shoe. The perfect embodiment of a trustworthy father who loves without end and would won’t ever break a promise? He comes down to my level and lifts my chin and looks me right in the eyes even as I’m expecting a blow.
I had to sit with that for a little bit.
How did the belief that God would take away someone I loved as a punishment or spite become part of my thoughts? Such harm. Even as I would’ve recited proper true theology, my practical theology called me a liar.
You may not be an enneagram 6 (or even have a clue what the enneagram is) that’s okay. But I am sure you have bits of beliefs you’ve embraced practically even as your professed theology opposes it.
Look for those things. Ask God to throw up red flags so you pay attention. And the hard part? When he does (because I promise, he will), confront them. Don’t ignore and put them off. Ask the hard questions. Figure out how you got there. Go deep. It can be painful but always so worth it.
About 2022… I have no idea what will happen. But I do know my Father. He has no shoe waiting for us.
If you’re not sure about who he is, go read the book he gave us. The gospel of John is a particularly good place for you to begin. The Jesus you meet there may surprise you. He’s not the blonde blue-eyed white man of which you may have seen pictures.
If you know who he is but your passion has ebbed a bit, my advice is the same. Go back and read and remember the way he lived… and the way he died.
So as you go into Christmas celebrations, whether happy or tense, remember there is no shoe – only a perfect Father who loves you perfectly.
As a practical reminder of proper theology, I will be wearing this in 2022. No matter the situation or problem: There is no shoe.
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