We live in a problem-solving, information-driven kind of world.
Though we’re plagued by inconvenience, solutions never seem too far away. Not sure how long to air fry that frozen chicken breast? A quick Google takes care of that. Trying to decide if it’s appendicitis or just a battle between your body and that three-day old burrito? WebMD has the (usually incorrect) answer. Want to change your brakes for less than half the cost? There’s a YouTube video for that.
I’m not sure it’s a problem, inherently. Information is cool! It’s helped me eat dinner when I’ve rushed out, forgetting to defrost whatever I have in the freezer. It’s saved me an emergency room bill. And information has given whoever’s reading this cause to drive only ever behind me.
But with such instantaneous access to such a wide variety of solutions — with an Alexandrian library of life hacks at our fingertips — it’s no wonder how intensely impatient we’ve become. With so many fact-checked opinions scrolling across our screen, it would surprise me to find anyone who had become more content with uncertainty or doubt over the last decade or two. By focusing so intently on solving problems, producing solutions and contributing valuable insight, we have created a society full of control freaks.
One of the three “terrible truths” Anne Lamott sees as the foundation of humanity’s relationship with the divine confronts our starvation for exact predictability and self-sufficiency: “I am in control of so little.” As much as Anne’s terrible truth has grown to comfort me, I have to admit: it still makes me uncomfortable.
It stretches my vision beyond myself — at the very least, reminds me that I’m not the center of the universe. But it reminds me that I can’t fully flourish without the help and support of others — not only God, but also God through others (who, like me, are also in control of so little). In this way, realizing my own limitations, I finally allow others to walk alongside me as I journey.
Today, we gather to celebrate our limitations. We eat doughnuts together after realizing we ran out of milk for cereal at home. We laugh with friends who’ve also suffered through expired burritos. We celebrate our inability to loosen oil filters and thank God for friends who have tighter grips than we do.
Realizing we’re in control of so little, we take hold of the reins we can sway. We remember that God is with us, for us, and acting on our behalf (often through one another) — even on the days our dinner comes out a bit freezer-burned.