Sneaky Self-Sufficiency

by | Oct 16, 2012 | Uncategorized

We didn’t even have to discuss it. We wanted to find out the gender of each of our babies after the stick turned pink. I like to know what I’m in for, be ready for all the contingencies before they happen.

But this projecting into the future, it goes beyond having the nursery ready. I rehearse what I will say or do when planning mission trips, preparing for family getaways, my children’s activities, when thinking about my daughter going away to college. I find myself doing it often in this new writing life.

I want to know the outcome of my investment before I make it.

And this self-sufficiency, trying to be adequate in my own skin, it’s like sneaky Leviathan resting there just under the surface of the deep. I don’t notice the ugliness of it all until he cranes his neck, emerging steely eyed, dripping grins about drifting into his territory when I was napping on the stern of self-reliance.(Psalm 104:26)

Do I call on Jesus when I feel competent? Or just in my inadequacy?

Because I’m comfortable resting in my row boat, pushing the oars when I’m ready, using the meager map of my experience to get to the place of imagined destiny. And Jesus, he wants to sit there with me too, not just when I need a new map and help pushing oars through molasses on a cold day.

I’ll keep an open seat on sunny days when the channel is clear as well as the rainy midnight of the soul when I’ve forgotten my umbrella.  Who wants to wade in adequate when miraculous is just over the horizon?

Have you ever thought of letting go of self-sufficiency? I admit, this is a hard one for me.

 Linking with Jen and Eileen.

This is #16 in the series 31 Days of Letting Go. You can read the collective here. If you are a writer, I invite you to link up any post you’ve written on the theme of letting go in the comments here on Friday. Subscribe to receive the series in your inbox or feed by adding your address in the side bar under Follow Redemptions Beauty.


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  1. Jennifer 'Miner' Ferguson

    Oh, my dear goodness, yes. I’ve lived too much of my life living on my own power, which is why He has me doing the one thing right now that I know I cannot do on my own — speaking and sharing His Word. It makes me need Him deeply and fiercely.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I know what you mean Jen, I’m in the same boat with you there.

  2. jeanwise

    Hard for me too. I love the second photo – completely loaded down with ‘just in case” supplies. The Lord has been nudging me to ‘travel light” and I think your post about letting go of self sufficiency fits right into that new direction for me. Good thoughts!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I love your take on that photo Jean, gave me more insight.

  3. Lynn Morrissey

    I related to the part about knowing the baby’s gender. I knew Sheridan would be wearing pink before she was born. But you lost me on the self-sufficiency part, because I am about as insufficient as I don’t know what! However, I’m really good at being a perfectionist and trying to make up for all my inadequacies. When I do that, I’m not concerned about inviting Jesus into my boat, but making sure I’m scrutinizing it from stem to stern to make sure there are no leaks. Perfect boats don’t leak, after all! So…..whether,Shelly, you ahd I get mired down in sneaky self-sufficiency or petrifying perfectionism, I think we need Jesus a whole lot, don’t you? Great post! And now, I’m heading off after Bach rehearsal to watch our St. Louis Cards get creamed. At least, that’s what my husband Michael is telling me is happening. Maybe I’d rather sing some more Bach! 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Yes, we do need Him in all our messiness. I hope you enjoyed the game.

      • Lynn Morrissey

        I enjoyed *watching* the game w/ Michael and Sheridan, but not the game. Ugh. We’re tied.

  4. Diana Trautwein

    Do you know we took a freighter that look a lot like that one when we went to Africa in 1966? And in the ensuing 45 years, I have battled with self-sufficiency and competency on a regular basis. This is an important ‘letting go’ – one that needs doing on a minute-by-minute basis for me.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh wow Diana, that sounds like a good blog post to me – taking a freighter like that to Africa. Actually it sound like a good book! 🙂 And yes, minute by minute for me too.

  5. glendachilders

    Yes … controlling my life is a lot of work and just never works. I would love to hear more about how you are letting go.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I’m just trying not to spend time on things that I can’t control and more time on what I can, living in here and now, instead of stewing about what I have no control over Glenda. It’s a discipline for me, it doesn’t come naturally.

  6. wynnegraceappears

    Longing to see the miraculous made by Him in my tomorrow’s. I love this. It speaks to me, I am rowing, struggling in the boat with you. And but for Him, I do believe I’d be sinking in the water-logged boat of self-sufficiency and just adequate. You float Hope, friend. You float it BIG. This post finds me in my little one man wooden boat when I long for Jesus to be on the lifeseas with me. I need Him and I needed your gift of writing this day.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      It’s hard to just rest knowing there is a whole storm raging around us isn’t it? I want to get my rain coat, umbrella, map and point out the best way to travel. But sometimes I have to just allow him to paddle and let go of doing anything at all. Glad you stopped by Elizabeth, thanks for the way you encourage.

      • wynnegraceappears

        yes, giving Him the oars, paddle, engine, motor, the whole darn thing, anything of Power is His. I am utterly powerless.

      • wynnegraceappears

        Powerless without Him. The storm is raging round. Glad He is who He is. Rejoicing we have a Water Calmer, Storm Calming God.

  7. eil1een

    “Who wants to wade in adequate when miraculous is just over the horizon?” Love that! He wants to offer us so much more. I am slow to remember this sometimes. Thanks for linking up Shelly!

  8. Judy

    When I think I can be self-sufficient, which I can’t, I find it only leads to a deepening sense of insecurity and failure. Maybe its God’s way of prodding me to trust in Him – to act on the belief that He is sufficient. His peace, instead of my insecurity, as the outcome – why don’t I remember?

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I was thinking about this today on my walk Judy. You said it very well. Agreed.

  9. Gayle

    Well…I’ve been feeling a stirring in my spirit to become more prepared, to become more self-sufficient. I don’t think of self-sufficiency as leaving God out, it is simply a prudent way of life. It is a Biblical concept as well, as how we have lived for thousands of years. You can live simply and still be prepared. But in the end, know that grace is always there for us and His beautiful provision. We had a week long power outage last winter with ice hanging from the house and trees broken throughout the region. My elderly mother had to come stay with us and my son couldn’t make it back to the city. I was thankful we were prepared with a small gas heater, a gas stove that we could cook on, and a gas hot water tank. We had meals, warmth in the living room and hot water! We were much more comfortable than most, and it was due to planning. It was still dark and cold out of the one warm room, and mom’s dementia was horrible that week. I called on God often for grace, but we were self-sufficient until we were able to hook up to the grid again.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I think there is a difference between being prepared and being self-sufficient. I think being self-sufficient is making decisions based on your own knowledge and experience with an outcome in mind that doesn’t take into account God’s providence. Being prepared is being a good steward with open hands. God doesn’t call us to be self-sufficient, he wants us to be dependent on Him in all things, even our preparedness. I hope that gives some clarity. I think what you are explaining in your circumstance is how God used your preparedness to help you through a crisis, which is being a good steward. I left Tulsa in my early years during an ice storm in my Honda CRX loaded down with all my worldly possessions, headed for Phoenix. I escaped what you had to live through. And what a story you’ve told, thank you.

  10. r.elliott

    Oh…I know this well…I call it “future tripping”…the only thing that accompanies me there is fear…and with fear comes control…the need to control the outcome. But if I live in the moment…Grace is my companion there. I have had some “forced opportunites”…gifts of letting go these past couple of weeks. As always…wonderful words here. blessings~

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Future tripping – interesting term Ro. That thinking I have any control over anything at all is just meaningless. And your right, fear and control are often together, I remind myself of that when I drive over high bridges. 🙂

  11. kelliwoodford

    Love that last line especially: “Who wants to wade in adequate when miraculous is just over the horizon?” cuz that’s all we are, isn’t it? adequate. mediocre.
    But so much more is available, like you said, just over the horizon.
    Often it takes greater faith to let go than to hang on. Because then you actually have to believe in Someone besides yourself and your abilities.
    Great subject. Worthy of much thought.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I think most of the truly fulfilling things in life come from believing in someone besides yourself and letting go. It’s something I wrestle with on a daily basis, especially when it comes to writing.

  12. Danelle

    I want to tell you something. You are becoming a stronger writer with every post. This series of writing every day has made you stronger. God is pouring out everywhere. Love you much.
    Praying I can let go of self sufficiency, because it is a battle for me too.
    Also a question, did you tell me about “At the Still Point”? I love that devotional and was writing about it today in answer to a comment. Just wanted to thank you. 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I did recommend the Still Point and so glad you are enjoying it. It’s one of my favorite books. The author actually just visited me here on the blog recently which was fun.
      I’m so thankful for your comment about my writing. It’s nice to have an outside perspective but I do feel God’s presence in it in a new way, so your words are also a confirmation. Thank you. So glad to call you friend (and I haven’t forgotten about doing a book club – thinking November, maybe we can email about it.) 🙂

  13. nacoleat6inthesticks

    Shelly, oh, friend, you have me thinking how much I need Jesus, how much I try to go it in the boat alone. Why do I do that? Thank you for such thought-provoking writing. This reminded me of something Elizabeth said to me on the blog yesterday–to give myself the gift of releasing it to Him–oh, do I ever need to learn that lesson–and more than that, I need to learn to give myself that gift–that He says I’m worthy of placing it all there, that He really does care. Really. Love to you.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      We all do it Nacole because we were born with a sinful nature that needs be crucified daily, not just once. And I know your heart is to follow Him and so does He.

  14. Sandra Heska King

    And then there are the days Jesus climbs into my boat and just wants to rock it!

  15. Kelsea

    Oh wow….I really needed to read this post.
    Unfortunately, I like to be prepared, too prepared. I have to know exactly what is going to happen, when it’s going to happen and how it’s going to happen. In fact, reading this made me think of all the times I’ve turned things down (opportunities, outings, decisions) simply because I was too afraid that I wouldn’t be able to handle a situation or difficulty that came up by myself. I was/am afraid to step out of my comfort zone and trust that Jesus will be there to catch me if I fall. Because He will be there. Thank you for this reminder that I need to step back and hand the control over to Jesus!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thankful you shared your heart here Kelsea. And sometimes that is the first step in letting go, admitting that you need to. I’m standing here with you cheering you on and praying for you to be at peace, know that He is with you, even when you are unprepared.

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