Every once in a while my baby will jerk his arms wide as if he were falling. This is known as the Moro Reflex, and it lasts for the first 3 or 4 months of his life.
It’s like his body isn't used to the world outside the tight embrace of the amniotic sac. He's not so sure about gravity and the wind on his skin. So he jerks in fear. And just as quickly as the baby jerks, he recovers. He pulls his arms in again and the scare is over. Everything is fine.
I have done the same ever since leaving the security of my parents' home where my dad paid for my health insurance and my mom gave me all the positive affirmation I needed. Quite frequently, I jerk in fear. Oh no! I'm falling!
Since Benny was born 8 weeks ago, we've had a garbage disposal kaput, an AC unit fail, a stair railing spindle fall off, a ceiling fan motor start smoking, an outlet fail, a stove's burner stop working, a plumbing back-up, a dishwasher drain leak, our air compressor break, and the stomach flu go through the house. All this on top of sleepless nights, spilt milk, imbalanced hormones, quadruple diaper blow-outs, sibling quarrels, and a crying newborn.
So I jerk in fear! Oh no! I'm falling!
The result of this Moro Reflex in a grown adult is a lashing out, much like a small dog barking at a German Shepherd or Labrador. The little dog is trying to prove who's boss.
I feel it happening when I've lived out of the Spirit for any duration of time. I forget who has hold of me. I slip back into thinking I've got to defend myself from the world.
So when I attend a new MOPs group, I feel the need to let everyone know that I'm not a newbie, that I've got three kids, and I know something about motherhood. When I go to church fellowship group, I feel the need to phrase my contributions just right so that people will think I'm wise. When I visit with siblings, I feel the need to prove how I have more of a right to complain than they do. When I hear gender or personality generalizations, I'm spurned to prove how I'm not like the rest. I break the mold. I shall not be pigeon-holed. When older ladies tell me how they ran their homes, I feel an unspoken critique because I do things differently.
I'm the yappy dog afraid that my territory is going to be overrun. I'm the baby jerking at every slight breeze.
The cure is not to become a Dobermann or to climb back into the womb. These are not options. The cure is to eliminate the insecurities. To be sure of my position. To not fear.
But how can anyone do that?
I think it's done in the same way an olympic swimmer is confident in his abilities. He has won a gold medal. The author is sure of his writing abilities because he has been published. The actress doesn't fret about getting the lead because she has earned an Emmy. And the billionaire needn't fear about losing an asset or two because he's got plenty in the bank.
We too can be secure in all things—in our understanding of the way the world works, our power to change things, and the rightness of our choices. I'm not talking about actually publishing a book about wise living. Nor do I mean waiting for YouTube to give me a trophy for having one million followers. It's the fool's rat race to try to validate my wisdom, power, and righteousness by asking or demanding that others recognize my abilities.
I'm talking about REALLY being wise and powerful and good. Not subjectively but actually. Not in the opinion of my family or a hundred friends on facebook but in REALITY.
But there's one major problem. I'm not actually wise, powerful, or good. Even if I were to win the Nobel Peace Prize, become a dictator, and have hundreds coming to me for advice, I would still have bad days and blind spots and no control of the future.
The truth is, and I think you knew it was coming, no one is wise, powerful and good but God. He defines wisdom and power and goodness. So the only way that I can have a part of that is by ceasing to believe in myself—a very anti-Disney idea—and by linking myself to the source.
What I mean is I must stop banking on my own understanding of how to parent or how I think others ought to improve themselves, or how I think my life should unfold. And I must stop expecting I'll be able to muscle through things and stop assuming my bank account has me covered. And I must stop using my daily behavior to decide whether I'm a good person or not. I must stop insisting on other's badness in order to believe myself good. I've got to give it up.
Always its a giving up in order to make room for something better. In this case its a giving up to take on Christ's wisdom, strength, and righteousness.
Certainly, isn't that what we mean when we say, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved?" It's believing that he is wise and strong and right in our place.
It's saying, "It's okay that that person didn't understand what I meant. The Lord knows my troubles much better than any person could."
"It's okay if I don't agree with that person's advice. I don't have to convince them that their words are not for me."
"It's okay that no one in this room knows me or my experiences. I am known by God and he has said I'm good."
"It's okay that I can't pay attention to Lee and Rose right now because I'm taking care of the baby. God will show them a love much greater than I ever can."
"It's okay that I don't know the source of my angst. God knows and will reveal the cure in the right time."
"I don't have to show that person that I'm right. God's guiding them just as much as he is me."
"I don't need to fear public school. The Lord is in control of my children's education."
"I don't have to worry that I don't know the proper responses to my children's behavior. The Lord knows and he is offering to guide me."
This isn't some sort of cop-out or a shirking of duties. This doesn't let me off the hook for trying my best to parent or keep house or earn a living. It means, though, that I do these things without fear. I do them in constant prayer, remembering that I'm not acting in order to protect myself or prove myself or convince others that I'm alright. I do them with the quiet assurance knowing that my medal has already been won, the book already published, the Emmy earned, the cattle on a thousand hills are His.
And He is mine.
"That's it. You're not 'doing' anything; you're simply calling out to God trusting him to do it for you. That's salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it right out loud: 'God has set everything right between him and me!'" (Romans 10:9-10 MSG)