Never Mine to Begin With
One of the earliest memories I have is being about four years old in the drugstore with my dad. I remember ogling the rows of candy featured at the check-out counter before my eyes settled on a roll of Spree, and I asked my dad if we could get one. That time—for whatever reason – his answer was no, but little Lindsey was hell-bent on getting the candy she wanted. Naturally, her next move was to tuck it up the leg of her green, corduroy pants and hobble out of the store after him.
If you’re wondering how the story ends, my dad noticed that I was walking to the car like a pigeon-toed penguin, discovered the roll of Spree, and returned it. It was the first and only time I’d ever taken anything that didn’t belong to me, but it wouldn’t be the last time I willfully insisted on having what I wanted, even if it wasn’t mine. Some people are more likely than others to surrender under the force of unfavorable circumstance; the rest of us stubbornly insist on holding out for the desired end goal. I tend to fall into the latter category in all aspects of my life—even in the context of my faith.
While I feel I’ve made great progress in this area, I continue to find it a true challenge to surrender the things I believe I want to God’s greater plan. More recently, it’s been challenging to surrender people in my life to God. Losing friends, significant others, or family is always painful, but sometimes, losing the future you built in your head can be even more painful. We often grab onto people, ideas, or things that may not necessarily be meant for us because we want, so badly, to possess whatever will make us temporarily happy, and when we fail to obtain those people or things that satisfy us right now, it’s easy to focus on the holes these losses leave behind.
As I grapple with these “holes” in my life, I’m learning that I don’t actually want what I think I want unless God wants it for me. We can only grasp at the things we believe might be good for us, but we can’t ultimately force something that falls outside of God’s plan. If we insist on our own shortsighted desires, we risk long-term unhappiness as we cling to things that were never meant for us. It is quite possible that we are missing out on the things that were always ours in favor of an inferior result.
Does everyone enjoy candy? Duh (okay, well – most of us do). Would a child eat sweets morning, noon, and night if their parents didn’t insist on healthy food? Absolutely. But what would follow would be disastrous for the child’s health and wellbeing. They’d miss out on what they need for nourishment and growth in favor of something sweet, but ultimately empty and unsatisfying. God is the parent, and we are the stubborn children who often prefer that empty candy to nourishing food because we want our desires satiated instantly rather than in God’s time. We don’t want to wait for what is good for us—we’d rather have it now. This mentality, however, is one that must be conquered, because the things that God has in mind for us will satisfy our unique purposes in ways we can only begin to imagine.
If you are clinging to someone or something that takes much effort to maintain, or if you are grieving a failed relationship or dream, I need you to hear that it was never yours. That doesn’t mean that the person or goal itself was bad, but that you’ve simply lost what was never yours. God works for our good in the choices we make, but when we choose wrong, He usually has a way of rectifying this by removing people or things from our lives. These little (or large) losses will always hurt, but if we continue to trust in the Person who knows us better than we know ourselves, He will replace these losses with beautiful things: “And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28).
Cut your losses and trust in God’s plans, for “there are far better things ahead than any we leave behind” (C.S. Lewis).
Also, kids: stealing is bad.
(Check out my book, Freedom to Love, to learn more about God’s design for the authentic love He’s destined for you.)
Lindsey Todd graduated from West Chester University in 2016 with a B.A. in English, and currently works as a technical writer for Mars, Inc. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, singing, playing with her dog, reading, and exercising. She also loves art, fashion, and deep political and theological discussion. She has a special devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and a special love for St. Pope John Paul II. Lindsey is passionate about sharing the beauty of chastity with others, particularly as a Catholic writer. Her book about pure dating relationships, Freedom to Love, is now available on Amazon, Kindle, and the FORMED platform for digital Catholic media. Lindsey currently resides in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. You can learn more about her work at www.lindseytodd.net.