When Lauren, my oldest, was small, she had done something wrong and I was correcting her. She squared off with me, put her little hands on her hips, tilted her head, and said, “How ‘bout you worry about you, Momma, and let me worry about me.”
Of course, she was repeating back to me a version of what I told her every day. Lauren was born with the confidence, assertiveness, ferocity, and determination to be in charge of things. Her personality is amazing – at 22, she has grown into all the positive aspects of who she is. However, when she was little, I wasn’t sure we’d both survive. I often reminded her that she needed to stay in her own lane, that I could parent her siblings without her assistance, thankyouverymuch.
Her job, I reminded her, was to be best friends with her siblings, to love them. My job was to parent them.
At some point, I realized that I needed God to have that same conversation with me. In my younger years, I spent way too much time asking God for clarification about other people’s behaviors. Somewhere along the line, I appointed myself the job of miniature, lowercase holy spirit. I needed to know all the things so that I could help God convict people of their sins, help show them how they were missing the mark and how they could get their acts together and fall into line. Bless my heart.
And then, one day, I was praying, sincerely asking God for some clarification about a sin that didn’t apply to me. And I imagined God the Father – God, my Parent – saying, “Jenn, does this apply to you? How about you stay in your lane? How about you worry about you and let me worry about them? Your job is to love them. My job is to be God to them. If I have a problem with their behavior, I’ll let them know. You worry about yourself.”
I’ve noticed that I’m not the only one. Any time I write about God’s relentless, immeasurable love and grace, someone feels compelled to chime in with a reminder about holiness and sin and repentance. Something about us has a hard time just loving people and trusting God to be God when it comes to the sin and repentance stuff. We feel this need to temper the vast love and mercy of God with the lists of rules and reminders of how other people break them, as we understand them. Why do we do that?
My experience has been that when I draw close to God and spend time with God and listen with my heart, the still small voice of God guides me — pointing out what I’ve done wrong, showing me how to do better, gently correcting and instructing and leading in a better direction. Always. God always does this with me. So it stands to reason that I can trust God will always do this with other people. Without my assistance, thankyouverymuch.
I am free to love people and tell people about the wild, pursuing, wide open love of God. And then, as they are drawn into God’s love and spend time with God and begin to hear the whisper of God the Parent, God will do for them what God has always faithfully done for me — gently correct, instruct, lead, guide.
Today, God my good Parent, please help me stay in my lane and worry about myself and just love other people.