Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Learning to Follow

“Listen through your screams to the wind still whispering: Don't give up -- Surrender!” 
― Eric Ganther

When I was 20, I was told that I was a natural leader.

That was not something that I wanted to hear. While I may have exhibited some of the (let's call them) skills that were often attributed with leadership, such as a rather loud voice that can quiet a room, a stern expression that can make people apologize before I have even spoken, and the ability to get people to jump on board with some of my crazier notions, I was weary of the term leader. In my spirit, I had always felt that I was called to be a follower.

And now, it's been six years, and while I still feel that calling, I have learned something about myself that gives me pause.

I have no idea how to follow.

Following has always been a romantic concept to me. You fall in line with the leadership of the group and do what you are asked. You do not sit up all night and consider the alternatives to the instructions, but instead, allow yourself to be guided. You do not challenge every little thing that is said just to see if there is a better alternative. You are not held responsible for the actions of those you cannot control. This should not be difficult.

But for me, it is. Because much of my personality strives toward leadership. I am a plethora of well reasoned arguments, each one commanding the attention of the group. I struggle to accept any way of doing something if it seems there might be a better or more feasible way. Or even the concept of one, which then leads me down the path of weighing all ideas. I think there might even be something in the way I stand, because even in college, when we are put into small groups with people we barely knew the names of, I was always the assumed leader before we even got together. My whole adult life has screamed of leading.

Still, my heart cries out to follow.

To follow means to abandon our own contrary nature and to be instructed. It requires a peace with quickly coming change, and an acceptance of each moment as it comes before it even arrives. To follow is to basically give someone else control. And I don't give up control very well.

As you might have imagined, my control issues do not serve well in my relationship with God. My faith poses a huge initiative to give the reigns of my life over and let the Lord guide my life. I am told to give up the worry and pretense the shrouds humanity and to allow every moment it's own blessings and challenges. For years now, I have internally worked myself against this, grabbing at little moments in which  I think I can be in control. Or that I "know better". It's exhausting.

I'm giving that all up now. I am going to learn to follow.

My heart cries out to let things happen. To be ready and accepting of each situation by giving in and letting go. No more worrying about what I am going to do with my life or who I will marry or what tomorrow will bring. These are not my concerns anymore. I will learn to follow, so that with each new day will be a wonderful surprise, not a calculated hope.

My natural talents will just have to step aside for now.

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