On the Side: June 2021
by Shelly Wyrick
The snowstorm out my window made a rainbow of white as we towed our 23-foot travel trailer down the mountain pass. We hoped all would stay in order: truck first, trailer second. Ironically, in those white-knuckle moments, I was telling my medical man what the Lord had been teaching me recently—to hold loosely.
You and your spouse are on a medical adventure. You’re striving by his side. You’ve physically and emotionally uprooted your plans for this endeavor. You’ve altered your schedule to suit his, more than once. You’ve left some things to arrive somewhere new.
All opportunities to hold loosely.
Hold Loosely to Your Plans
In packing for our week-long road trip, I made a comment to my brother-in-law on the difficulty of bringing a week’s worth of food for a family of six. It’s a lot of food. In Mark 6:7-11, Jesus sends the disciples out in pairs and specifically tells them to pack lightly. The disciples went without preparation to encourage dependence on Jesus instead of their knapsacks. When we over-plan, we get stifled by worries when things don’t go as schemed. But when we acknowledge the reality of our lack of control, we choose God’s provision over our own. My brother-in-law swiftly met my comment about having to pack so much food with, “They have grocery stores there.” Oh yeah, grocery stores. Yes, we need to make preparations, but we also need to intentionally remember who the ultimate Planner is. God’s omnipotent power and love go before us, and in the absence of our stringent self-provision is the presence of His abundance.
Hold Loosely to Your Time
Sometimes I stick to my schedule and covet my sacred time only to miss what blessing God arranged. We made a point to visit the famous TA Moulton Barn in Teton National Park on our trip. The majestic mountains tower over the weathered barn so stunningly that we determined to find it and allow time to watercolor paint, plein-air style.
Find barn. Check.
Unpack ample supplies to paint from the bed of our truck. Check.
Work quickly due to ominous clouds. Check.
Throw supplies back into storage and leave. Check.
Super fun, right? On leaving, we passed a rustic restroom. As the parents of four kids, when we see an opportunity to go in the middle of nowhere, we go. Check. This process takes some time, time enough for a storm to pass. Sufficient time to second guess our plans for the afternoon, turn around and do the watercolor painting thing all over. Slowly. Brilliantly. Joyfully, while basking in the sun and glory of God’s creation. I guarantee if you dare to hold your schedule loosely and look closely, God’s abundant gifts, seemingly spontaneous, abound.
Hold Loosely to Your Thoughts
Eating on a road trip is intriguing. My leg room was severely compromised by an overestimated bag of carrots, fries, gummy worms and orange peels—a menagerie buffet at arm’s length. My thought world is a bit like this, a vast array of thoughts to pick from. The most challenging grip to loosen is on my motives and mind. When I pull my grimy little fingers off my inner chatter, there’s clarity, peace and awareness of God’s presence. This last point has consumed me as I consider just what I spend my time considering.
I’m going to challenge you to do something for the next 30 minutes. You’re a multitasker, so I know you can do this while you go about whatever. This exercise will be more revealing if you go ahead and do whatever while you take the challenge. Ready? Pray. Pray without ceasing. Not on your knees with the door closed. Spend this next 30 minutes going about your day, doing what you need to do, changing your entire thought world into prayer. Possible examples:
Thought: Why can’t we finally buy rather than rent when we get there?
Prayer: Our finances are yours, Jesus, give us wisdom, and thank you for our new home, wherever it is, whatever it looks like, I know you will be with us.
Thought: Should I be tiptoeing right now? This is ridiculous.
Prayer: Bless him as he naps, help him to recover from call. Be glorified in the little things today, Lord!
Thought: What’s 12 x 3 + 15 x 2? Is that even legal?
Prayer: Lord, resident hours are absurd. I give this to you. Help his work go smoothly today. Give us both patience and endurance as he works long. Please help us to grow closer to each other, and you, through this.
Letting go of your thought world and converting it to prayer is like choosing carrots over French fries. My selfish side likes to wallow in the fries. But once I start making the healthier choice, it’s not long before I see benefits. Releasing my thought world to prayer has led me to feel closer to the Holy Spirit, realize when I get off track emotionally and worry less. I would love to hear what you notice when you finish this challenge.
Help us to let go of the things of the world, our plans, our time, our inner chatter, so that we might free our hands to grab onto you. Thank you, Lord, for my sisters in Christ who stand by me today and point to you.
Shelly is a stay-at-home mom of four and the wife of her manly medical man. Her family’s recent (and safe) road trip started in Spokane, Washington, stopped in Yellowstone, the Tetons, Arches and Canyonland National Park. In response to the pandemic, she’s been homeschooling and loving it. She enjoys jogging, being outside with her family, painting and writing.