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Blog #4 The Side Hug


I am really bad at waiting. I realize no one excels at it, but it’s an exceptional struggle for me. Today I wanted to run the dishwasher and, after loading it, I noticed my son was eating chips… on a plate. I told him when he finished to put his plate in the dishwasher so I could start it. I waited probably 90 seconds and then grabbed a napkin, transferred said chips and took the plate away. Seriously, I never win any awards for patience.


And waiting is a universal issue. No one is exempt. We all wait every day in line to check out or get through traffic. For the dryer to stop or a child to finish dinner (or chips). You would think we would be waiting experts due to the amount of experience we have, but for some reason we’re not. Obviously, some are better than others, me being on the low end of that spectrum, but I think it’s safe to say we all need some improvement.


Maybe that’s why God uses it so much in our lives. It is the tool that never grows dull. It is forever sharpening us. And it goes hand-in-hand with our discussion the last two weeks about trust. There is always an element of waiting involved in trust. Let’s review our verse:


“Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6


Two weeks ago we identified who has what roles in these verses. Last week we learned why we need to trust with all our heart. Today we’re going to learn what happens when we lean on our own understanding.


This proverb is all about trusting God while you wait. Now, traffic and a child finishing his/her dinner requires patience (and are annoying), but I wouldn’t constitute them as trust issues. But we all know of issues that are: waiting for a teenager to open up, a doctor to call, or a job to be offered. That kind of waiting requires trust because, as we wait, we all do the same thing.


Our minds start to wander.


You see, trusting God is like leaning in for a side hug. He welcomes us, draping His arm around our shoulders and pulling us in snug. But when we lean on our own understanding we pull out of that embrace. Now, pulling out of the embrace doesn’t change the situation. We are still in a waiting/trusting holding pattern, but now it feels a little chilly. Not as safe. A bit scarier. And our minds start to wander into worse-case scenarios.


Leaning out doesn’t make the teenager talkative, the diagnosis change, or the phone ring. The only thing affected is our peace. When we lean on our own understanding, we jump to our own conclusions. And those conclusions lift us into anxiety and sink us into depression. This mind wandering activity is never productive, often destructive, and always unnecessary.


So, let me be blunt.


Either God is fully aware of your crooked path and fully capable of straightening it. Or He’s not. There is no in-between. And it is your choice which way to lean.


Please know this: The side hug isn’t often easy; trust takes work. But look at the alternative! Let me encourage you to choose the embrace. Don’t put yourself out in the cold.


Be Intentional Identify your issue and allow yourself to think through and feel the difference between leaning in and leaning out of His embrace. How does it affect the level of peace in your heart? Write out the differences and use your own words to remind you why it's better to trust.


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