Because, according to Travis, if you already know what's going to happen, why bother watching it?
I think it was around the time of the Men's Team gymnastic competition, as I sank into the couch with my third spoonful of cookie dough, that I began to realize that I don't handle the stress of the Olympic games all too well. As I watched each athlete prepare to jump, flip, and propel their way to the medal podium, I anxiously wondered if they would do well or, you know, screw it up ... for themselves, for their teammates, for AMERICA (!!!), and I could just feel the ulcer begin to form in my stomach. I just couldn't handle the stress.
The next afternoon, while Travis was safely at work, I crept onto the MSN homepage and scoured the site until I read that the American women would win gold later on that evening. Was I ashamed to be such a wuss? Oh you bet, but come time for those girls to vault, balance, dance, and swing, I was the picture of cool, calm and collected.
Because I knew there was nothing to worry about.
Every day since then, I have checked the reports way ahead of time in order to learn what happens and have time to be OK with it (because apparently I'm a bit too into the Olympics). So when the commentators wondered if Phelps would win that final gold to make him the most decorated Olympian ever? Oh you might have stressed about it, but I was cool. When poor John Orozco failed to do anything right (it seemed -- I actually was super proud of him and wanted to do nothing more than wrap him up in a big mama-hug and tell him how awesome he is) in the men's all around? I had already dealt with that loss.
Travis calls it cheating, but I'm just fine with being a spectator cheat. It has been such medicine for my anxiety to know ahead of time what is going to happen. To process it. And later, to expect it.
How seamlessly that little tidbit of my Olympic viewing habits translates to the way I live my life. As I live out my days, I frequently find myself wishing I could just know what's going to happen. Sometimes I catch myself as I pray asking God to just give me a glimpse of how all this is going to turn out. I feel like, if I knew what the outcome is, I could handle the journey just a little more gracefully. If I knew how things would pan out in the end, I might be a little more patient with the present.
But God? That's not the way He works. It never has been.
It's all about control. I want it; He wants to strip me of it and have me rely solely on Him. He is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105), providing me with just enough light to take my next step. When I find myself alone in the dark, with just the next step illuminated, and I go that way instead of going the way I want, I begin to trust the Lord. How do I know I'm not walking toward a venomous snake or a giant hole? I don't; I must trust that if that is the place where God leads, He will protect me when danger arises.
How many times have I called out, "Just turn the lights on for 5 seconds so I can get my bearings!" and in turn have shown my distrust of the Lord? Because, if I'm honest, it's hard to put my trust in God. My human nature doesn't allow for it. Instead, I would much rather go about my own way, trusting in myself. I think that''s why it is so important and why He continuously tells us to trust in Him -- because it goes against our nature.
How nice would it be to see into the future and know all the steps before I take them? I imagine it might be quite pleasant, until I see that the path leads somewhere I don't want to go. Then I could safely say I'd change that path. Because sometimes God leads us through unpleasant times. Does that mean He is less good or less God because I go through difficulty? No, it means He knew the life I would live before I was even alive, and every step, every tear, every disappointment is designed to teach me and grow me into the person He has designed me to be.
And is there any better person to be than the one the Lord designed you to be?
So I'll probably continue to be an Olympic cheat and find out the results prior to seeing the events, but that's about as far as I want to take this need for control.
2 Samuel 22:31 “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.”
Psalm 118:8 “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."