There’s an episode of the I Love Lucy show where Lucy and Ethel are attempting to work at a chocolate factory. They’re on an assembly line and at first the candies are coming out at a nice, decent, slow and steady pace. Lucy and Ethel look at each other with a confident smirk and smugly wrap the chocolates. You can see all over their faces that they’re thinking “we’ve got this!” Then the conveyor starts going a little faster, then a little faster still, then more and more…and the panic spreads over their faces. They stuff chocolates any and everywhere, because there aren’t supposed to be any unwrapped candies on the belt when it passes to the next room. Pretty soon it’s an absolute disaster, an utter failure, and they’re kicked off the assembly line.
I think how closely life resembles that scene. Everything keeps coming at you faster and faster, so many decisions to make, so many balls to juggle, so many people to consider. So many many ways to fail.
As a single person, it’s all on my shoulders. I’m the only one responsible for my bills, for my pets, for the maintenance and upkeep of my car and my home. I have no one to fall back on, no one to help. I have to make decisions now that I’ve never had to make before, and the success or failure of those decisions rests solely on me. There’s a level of panic under that reality sometimes. Panic is a dangerous thing.
There’s also a level of pride. After all, I have made it so far. I’ve paid my bills successfully and on time. I’ve provided for my pets, for myself. I have been blessed with a beautiful home. I can look at my life right now and easily slip into that forgetful place where I pat myself on the back and think “I’ve got this.” Pride is a dangerous thing.
Panic flails and falters. A panicking person is difficult to subdue, impossible to get through to. A panicker won’t hear you tell them everything will be okay. Those words don’t penetrate their fear. Panic blinds you. Panic pushes you to make desperate and sometimes irrational choices. Panic will take you further into the muck and make a mess.
Pride stiffens its neck. Pride refuses to see that you need help. Pride assures you everything is perfectly fine, even when it’s not. A prideful person can’t hear you say they’re making a mistake. They plug their ears and march right into the mess.
Everything is fearful to a panicker. Nothing is fearful to the prideful. Neither is good.
All of us, whether single or not, are one unforeseen disaster away from catastrophe, aren’t we? It’s the way of this world, isn’t it? Who could have predicted two years ago what 2020 would be like? Churches unable to hold services, businesses closed to the public and many closed permanently, entertainment venues and airports shut down. Social distancing and widespread uncertainty. The impact of that year on the landscape of our lives is huge.
There is a situation looming on my horizon right now that has the potential to create an entirely new landscape in my life. If it comes to be, it would be a massive life change. I’ve already had one of those and it was not fun. My tendency is to pick the whole thing apart and break it down so I can see all the potential pitfalls, the hurdles, the obstacles I may face. My line of thought has always been to figure out how I would deal with the worse-case scenario, so I’m at least prepared mentally. There are elements of both pride and panic in that method. Pride in that I want to know as many of the worst things that could happen to counteract them beforehand so I don’t fail, and panic in that I flail around frantically to gather as much information as possible and make precipitous decisions so I don’t fail.
There was a point in my life where, like Lucy and Ethel in the chocolate factory, I thought “I’ve got this.” I can handle it…life, relationships, the future, whatever. I’m confident in my ability to handle this. But I wasn’t able to handle it on my own. I made a mess of it. Utter failure. I don’t ever want that kind of mess in my life again.
Bottom line, I don’t want to fail. No one wants to fail. Failure is miserable. Fear of failure is massive. I found this little tidbit on the web: Fear of failure is the most common phobia. I know it has dogged my life for as long as I can remember. The thought of failing has kept me from trying many things, kept me locked in situations I should have gotten out of far sooner than I did. The thought of not having a safety net, nothing to fall back on, has kept me awake at night. When fear is driving you, even a horrible situation is preferable than making a change to the unknown.
I’ve done the pick-apart breakdown with this situation in a much more limited way than I usually do. As a matter of fact, if I look at myself and this circumstance objectively, it should be causing a lot more panic than it is. I should be a nervous wreck. And I’m not. I had to take the time to figure out why.
When my daughter was little she would hold her arms up to me when she wanted me to pick her up and carry her. That only lasted for a little while, until she was secure and confident in her ability to walk. After that, she was off to the races and I was hard pressed to get her to let me pick her up. Very independent, that one.
I’ve been the same way. I thought I could do it on my own, and I ran my life that way, very independently. And, just like my daughter, I fell down. I failed. I found myself in a pit so deep that I couldn’t see the light of day.
Jesus rescued me. I didn’t deserve it. I had run from Him for so long, but He reached down and rescued me. He scooped me up in His everlasting arms, and has carried me through so much. When He’s not carrying me, He’s walking with me, holding my hand, keeping me from stumbling. He’s protecting me, defending me, strengthening me. He’s everything. He’s my all. He’s my rest when I’m weary. He’s my strength when I’m weak. He’s my comfort when I’m afraid, when I’m hurting. He tends me. He loves me.
I’ve given Him a blank check from the checkbook of my life, with my name signed to the bottom. I’m all in. There’s a vast horizon in front of me and I can only see the smallest part of it. But I have no fear in Him. He is good. He is always with me.
I don’t know where this situation will lead in my life. I don’t know at this moment what He has in mind, what He has in store for me. But I’m not panicking, because I know He is good. I know He will meet my needs. I know that when I need Him to, He will carry me.