by EMILY P. FREEMAN
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 (ESV)
“Wait, is this plant real?”
The plant in question lives in our living room, tucked into a black pot behind our sofa. As our son mindlessly plays with the leaves, he becomes aware for the first time that this green plant he passes every day might actually be living.
“That plant sure is real!” I’m happy to answer him, my love for this particular plant turning into a 30-second speech about the importance of finding good, sturdy plants for your house. “It really is my favorite plant,” I tell him, “because it hardly ever needs watering! In fact, it can go months without any water at all.”
At this precise moment, my husband looks up from his book across the room. “No, it can’t. I water that plant all the time.”
After a fit of hysterical laughter, I consider all the ways this little exchange reveals something about my own life. While I took the credit for being smart enough to buy a plant that can live without water, my husband faithfully worked to keep that plant alive and never said a word.
Sometimes I move through life taking undue credit for success that has nothing to do with my efforts. Conversely, I also carry irrational blame for outcomes beyond my control. I’m hardly aware of the low-grade anxiety buzzing beneath the surface of my everyday life as I swing between high-horse pride and her cowering shadow, the unfriendly companion we call shame.
When I take undue credit and irrational blame, it’s no wonder decisions can feel heavy and overwhelming. When it’s all up to me to get it right, what choice do I have but to worry, control and manage the outcome?
There is another way.
I’ll share it in the form of a question, one I’m learning to ask myself when I’m feeling anxious, overwhelmed or afraid of making a life decision I’ll regret. Instead of asking, What will happen if I make the wrong choice? I’m learning to ask a different question:
Do I live in the kingdom of Emily, or do I live in the kingdom of God?
We all have a kingdom, but it doesn’t have regal robes or royal thrones. It looks like my house with my things and my car with my errands. It looks like my agenda, my family, my plans, my ideas.
My “kingdom” is anything my will has power over. If I fail to recognize all the ways I see myself as the queen of my own queendom, then I will carry an overwhelming sense of responsibility for my own success as well as my own failure. When I’m wearing my crown, my decisions quickly become overwhelming.
This question of where I live is an important question to ask myself, especially when I’m facing a big decision. Do I live in the kingdom of Emily, or do I live in the kingdom of God?
In Matthew 6:33, God reminds us to pursue His kingdom rather than our own. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Because I live in the strong and unshakable kingdom of God, I don’t have to manage, control, measure, weigh or manipulate outcomes. Instead, I can have faith that God is with me, and He will never leave me alone. Instead of being fixated on making the exact right choice, I can take off my crown in the presence of my friend Jesus and simply do the next right thing in love.
Lord, show me one way I’ve been trying to reign in my own kingdom today. Even while I carry new challenges, big decisions, looming deadlines and foggy transitions, teach me what it means to take off my crown and trust You for my next right thing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.