This past week, I had the joy of speaking at Gitche Gumee’s women’s retreat in Michigan’s upper peninsula. Oh how I loved experiencing God, way up there in the fresh air and wide pebbly beaches.
I also loved leading the women at the retreat in an exploration of what it means to surrender to God, rather than gripping onto control. When we wrapped up, I invited the women to participate in a four week “Small Arrow Challenge”. Even if you weren’t with us last week, you can link arms with us and join the challenge. If you want to make sure not to miss any of these four posts, you can have them delivered to your inbox by signing up here:
Why Small Arrows?
I have nothing against big arrow moments in life. In fact, I’m not sure it’s possible to be a follower of Jesus unless you’ve had at least one “big arrow surrender” experience. I’m talking about that first time you came to Jesus, saying, “I cannot save myself. I trust your work on the cross to save me.”
Most of us who follow Jesus have other big arrow moments (or seasons) of surrender. Such as:
- Breaking off an engagement
- Quitting a job
- Laying down a dream
- Placing a loved one who is sick or hurt in God’s hands
- Taking a risk
These are important, faith-requiring experiences, but I’m convinced that big arrow surrender alone will not change us. Here’s why.
Have you ever met a woman who says she’s given her life to God, but lives like she’s still in control? Maybe she meets you in the mirror sometimes.
Here’s the truth: God is in control and we’re not. When we live like the opposite of this is true, we only make everyone miserable–ourselves included. We evolve into fretting, obsessive, angry, heel-digging, steering wheel-gripping, perfectionist women. Which isn’t who I want to become! How about you?God is in control and I'm not. When I live like the opposite of this is true, I evolve into a fretting, obsessive, angry, heel-digging, steering wheel-gripping, perfectionist woman. Which isn't the look I was going for. You neither? Then join me… Click To Tweet
If you’re tired of being a Control Girl, and want to move in a new direction, welcome! This challenge was designed for you. And what will change us? Small arrow surrender. I’m talking about the little-by-little moments of our days that all add up to a direction in life.
Over the years, I have found—even after writing a book on this topic—that I naturally fall back into my control-craving habits. Unless I am purposefully engaged in small-arrow surrender, I will head back down the path of a Control Girl. But here’s the good news.
Heading in a new direction can begin in the next five minutes, and then the five minutes after that. All I have to do is choose to give in to God rather than giving in to me.
Pick Your Arrow
Below is a list of “small arrows” ways to surrender to God. It’s not an exhaustive list. As I’ve looked into my own heart listened to others share their hearts, I’ve found these to be some of the most common ways that our desire for control manifests itself in daily life. If you want to head in a new direction, from “Control Girl to Jesus Girl”, I suggested you begin with one of these. Since I have some extra time and space here, I’m going to expand this list beyond what I shared in Control Girl, and/or when I speak. Read through the list and ask God to help you choose the one way that you most need to surrender to Him:
Tame my Tongue
I need to bite my tongue instead of snapping, lashing out, or demoralizing others with my words. I need God to help me filter out the swearing, criticizing, gossiping, exaggerating, and complaining from my speech. James compares my tongue to a rudder, and I trust that surrendering my words will give my life new direction.
Live within Limits
Eating. Spending. Sleeping. Exercising. Time management. Etc. God has woven limits into each of my 24-hour days. But rather than constantly caving in to myself, I need his help to surrender to these daily limits, so that He can shape a heart of surrender in me.
Cap the Red Pen
I have a tendency to correct correct others and explain (often repeatedly) why they aren’t doing things the “right” way. I’m especially adamant, when I know that God is on my side of the argument. I need God’s help to curb my forceful craving to correct others, especially when the person already knows what I’m going to say. I need to trust the Holy Spirit to convict, rather than trusting in myself.
Entrust my Children
I am burdened with an intense desire to make everything turn out right for my children. I go beyond parental care, and obsess or overreact or fret about threats to their well-being. I need God’s help to recognize that my children do not ultimately belong to me; they belong to Him. He created them, loves them, and has His own plans for how everything will turn out in their lives. I must surrender my hopes and plans for them on a moment-by-moment basis, to the Lord.
Be Respectfully His
Because I’m so invested, I try to control my husband. I nag, sigh, roll my eyes, yell and scream, or give him the silent treatment when he doesn’t give in to me, or see things my way. I recognize that I cannot try to control my husband and show him respect at the same time. The two are mutually exclusive, because he will always perceive my control tactics as disrespect. I need God’s help to turn me into a control-free, respectful wife.
Honoring God with my Sexuality
My sex life must remain inside God’s boundary line of marriage between one man and one woman. I need God’s help to stop fantasizing about or flirting with men who don’t belong to me, engaging in pornography, affairs, or pursuing same sex attractions. On a moment-by-moment basis, I need to surrender to God rather than caving in to my own cravings and desires.
Let Go of Perfect
I tend to obsess over my own appearance, the tidiness of my home, or the quality of my performance. I need God’s help with letting go of perfect. When I am confronted with disorder and chaos, unfinished or unpolished projects, blemishes on my own appearance, an imperfect number on my scale, or inability to perform to my own standards, I will surrender these frustration and disappointments to God rather than caving into my desire for control. On a moment-by-moment basis, when my craving for perfection surfaces, I will surrender my perfectionism to God.
What’s in my Glass
I am controlled by my appetite to consume alcohol or another substance. I need God’s help to stop giving in to my own cravings, and surrender to Him instead. Because this substance is addictive, I might need to seek help or support, which will also be part of laying down control. By refusing on a moment-by-moment basis to let alcohol or other substances control me, I will surrender control to God.
What’s in my Wallet
I spend more money than I should. Or I obsess over keeping it instead of giving it away. Either way, my money lies and tells me that I have control when I have money. Yet the truth is, my money is controlling me. I need God’s help to break free from the bondage of materialism, greed, or spending addiction. I am putting God in charge, on a dollar-by-dollar basis, over my giving, spending, and saving.
What’s on my Screen
I need God’s help to surrender what I watch on screens, how much time I spend looking into them, or how I interact with others from behind a screen. I see that my screens have been controlling me, and I want to be controlled by God instead. In the small moments of the day, I will put God in charge of my interaction with screens.
Ok, friend. Did you select one “Small Arrow”? If you’re the overachiever who has selected several from the list above, I would encourage you to go back and limit yourself to one. Maybe two. You can always repeat the challenge later with another “small arrow” in mind. For now, let’s zero in on the one thing this month that you’d like to work on surrendering to God.
Are you ready to pack up and move in a new direction? Then join the challenge today!