The Joy of Open Hands

My fists close tight, clenched at my side, as I hold to the illusion of control.

Over the past few months, my clamped hands have begun to get tired. Many times, when my idea of how things should go goes wrong, I hold on tight, instead of trusting God. The control is an illusion—I never really have it. Thankfully, illusions only last so long before the wind blows them away. The illusion of control mists and vanishes, and pride reveals itself for what it is.

I think part of joy is constantly adjusting our expectations to the level of reality. In other words, opening our hands and letting go, letting God…

Direct our plans.

Soften our hearts.

Move us as He will.

My spasmodic instinct to hold on tight when my plans seem to falter is far less satisfying than the hand open wide and willing before God Almighty. The sweet willingness to humbly submit to the plans of the Omniscient. “Yet not what I will, but what You will.”

Joy comes with open hands.

The last day of my honeymoon comes vividly to mind. My husband and I only planned one day of our entire honeymoon. The week was, largely, left to impulsive drives to Traverse City, MI; walks on the beach, sits in the sand; shopping and eating and resting and talking. But the last day was set in stone: we were going to Mackinac Island, and we were going to dine at the Grand Hotel. My fist had closed tight over the day before it had even begun.

Of course, the day went wrong.

We didn’t pack the right dress code for the dinner (khaki colored jeans are not dress pants, for those who wonder, and a black tie dinner means you need a tie). And the people made us feel inferior (“I suppose the pants could be acceptable” the lady told us). So we didn’t dine in luxury.

We snacked at a low-key restaurant instead. And, rather than accept the day as it was, I sulked hard. My hand still fisted the day I desired. I ran the situation over in my mind a million times, dreaming of the fancy dinner on the hill, knowing all the time that we made the right decision…but angrily talking out my disappointment on my stressed-out husband instead.

We ended up sitting on a grassy hill, waiting for our ferry, conflict-solving. Ah, the romance.

Looking back, I know that the day itself wasn’t a bad one. We spent a day walking around a gorgeous and flower-filled island on a gorgeous and sun-filled day.

It was my tight-fisted control that spiraled me into despair—not the events of the day.

There’s a peace in letting go. I’ve had a few opportunities to do so since, and the result—really and truly—is joy. My worry lines ease and my hands relax and the weight of control falls before the One who can carry it.

So, open my hands, Lord, that I may joy in You.

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