…the mistakes that we male and female mortals make when we have our own way might fairly raise some wonder that we are so fond of it.
-Middlemarch by George Eliot
Perhaps because recent stress-levels and work-loads have made very few activities sound enjoyable to me, it’s been happening a lot more often.
Social necessity, work necessity, cultural necessity keeps pulling me away from what I want to be doing – what I think I should be doing – and into situations where I am uncomfortable. Where I am grouchy. Where I am looking for the first, slimmest excuse to bolt.
After all of the craziness of the past three years – all of the different roommates and travels and bending to a culture so different from my own – I had hoped I would be over it by now. Myself. My obsession with my way. My knee-jerk reaction of frustration when my plans are compromised. I have a growing personal history that drills home the lesson that getting my own way rarely makes me happier than not getting it.
But it’s not just my own anecdotal evidence. Researchers are saying the same thing – that we human beings often have no idea what will make us happy. We overestimate the happiness benefits of being in control of our future.
To a slight[ly obsessed] control freak like me, that’s terrifying. I am not at all comforted by the idea that the benefits of choice – that most hollowed of Western concepts – is by-and-large a figment of my imagination.
Even when praying Jesus’ Gethsemane prayer, I cling to the sliver of hope in myself. “Not my will, but yours,” I mumble. Then my heart adds, “And I’ll just keep assuming I know what your will is so I don’t have to hear about something I’d rather not do…”
At first, when I saw God’s showing up mostly through situations I’d tried hard to avoid, I thought it was Him preparing to pry my cold, hard fingers off from around my will. I thought it was almost a taunt – a reminder of the superiority of His way.
But the Whisper has been murmuring something different. About a place of joy beyond myself. About a better will than the one I’ve got in mind. About good things coming from death.
It’s an invitation to release myself to someone who can perfectly foresee my happiness. An invitation to an adventure far outside my plans that’s better beyond my imagination. An invitation to lay down my will, my struggle for my way – not with reluctance, but with a sigh of relief.