Forest Lake Talks

A Message from Ellen

January 6, 2021

January 6, 2021

Dear Friends,

As we have all watched the virus infection numbers and positive tests rocket upward, and as we hear about virus mutations, it can be difficult to keep feeling hopeful.  What we thought was a light at the end of the tunnel seems to be receding.  But then again, we don’t know what will happen.  Everything we plan seems to be contingent on many things that we cannot control.

A couple of weeks ago, as I was leaving church after a particularly “interesting day” of renegotiating and rethinking how we do everything, I was bragging to a church member who knows me well about how “flexible” I have become.  “When all of this is over,” I said, “my middle name is gonna be ‘Flexible’!”  When I said this the longtime friend and church member looked at me with a big smile (and a lot of authority) and said, “No it won’t!”  We both laughed because we both knew that he was exactly right!  I am only flexible when I have no other options.

But, I also know that the forced flexibility of this pandemic is a spiritual opportunity from which I have a lot to learn.  The spiritual discipline of letting go is particularly hard for me and maybe you can identify.  I know that Scripture does NOT say anywhere, “God helps those who help themselves.”  But, I act as if that is true all the time.  I say that everything depends on God, but I live as if nothing will happen unless I do it.  I like to make a plan and work my plan.  God made me that way, and because of my ability to plan and to work a plan I have received many blessings and been able to serve my God and the church in some good ways.  But every virtue can become a sin or spiritual liability when it goes too far.  So, planning and working a plan can become controlling when it is stretched too far.  Frugality is a virtue that becomes the sin of stinginess or fear when overreached.  And so, my gifts for planning and working a plan are both a gift from God and also something of which I must learn to let go. 

Letting go of my plans is the only way to become open to what God has planned or to hear the good plans that others might have that might be better than my plan.  Letting go of my wish to have what I do not have is the only way to become grateful for what I do have. I heard a definition the other day that has really captured my attention.  An opinion is an idea with ego wrapped around it. Let that sink in for a bit and let me know if it hits you as hard as it hit me!  When I practice the spiritual discipline of letting go, prayer is completely different.  My prayers shift from “Dear God please . . .” to prayers like “Dear God let me see as you see” or “unclench my fists, my heart and my mind so that I can serve you, love you and know you.”

I don’t know how much longer it will be before we can return to any semblance of what life was this time last year – before we knew the words COVID-19 and before we knew how to zoom.  But, I know that I have a lot to learn about letting go of my fear, my opinions, my plans and my ego if I am going to be able to respond to God like Mary, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”  Luke 2:38.

Working on it!

“See” you in church!

Ellen – aka “Flexible!”

Ellen Fowler Skidmore

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