Tweaking Carrie Underwood
I’m from South Carolina. In South Carolina, there is a lot of country music. And where there is a lot of country music, there is a lot of Carrie Underwood. Thus, when her song “Jesus, Take the Wheel” came out back when I was still in high school, this was inescapable:
My parents love this song. With a little bit of tongue-in-cheek amusement at Carrie’s country twang. But the general message of it, they agree with–giving it up to God. Or, as Carrie sings it:
Jesus take the wheel
Take it from my hands
Cause I can’t do this on my own
I’m letting go
And, in a way, I guess I do agree, too. Much as I make fun of country music. Perhaps my song wouldn’t be titled “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” but rather “God, Take the Wheel” or “Spirit of Life, Take the Wheel” (which admittedly doesn’t have the same ring to it), but the sentiment is the same.
I’ve been feeling burned out lately. Piles of paperwork and screens full of emails and interminable amount of Post-It notes covered in schedules and to-do lists have taken their toll on me. Working with people is what makes me–as our esteemed Howard Thurman would have said–“come alive,” but I’ve been feeling distanced from my direct outreach, walled off by paperwork and responsibilities. Plus, that little thing called homework.
I’ve been making lists of graduate schools and scholarships and scrolling through the bios of people who seem way more qualified than me to get them. Wondering if I’m a competitive applicant. Staring forlornly at my resume. You get the idea.
Basically, as one of my roommates put it, I’ve fallen in a rut.
And then I remembered what happened this summer.
This summer was wonderful. I meditated every morning, exercised every day, and spent my weekends wandering the museums of Washington, DC. I attended the vibrant Unitarian Universalist All Souls Church in Columbia Heights, a thriving neighborhood filled with empanada stands and women selling agua frescas on the sidewalks. I was in a truly good place.
One morning, on a day I was feeling a bit frantic about work, I was meditating on the floor of my apartment. And then–well, I’m not quite sure how to describe it–I had a spiritual experience. I believe that sometimes God is revealed to us through our own minds (not just in the form of a burning bush). As I was sitting there, breathing in and out, these words appeared in my mind, lingering, as if someone had written them there. I certainly hadn’t thought them.
ALL WILL BE AS IT SHOULD BE.
ALL WILL BE AS IT NEEDS TO BE.
A feeling of overwhelming calm. Security. Grace. To me, God.
I wrote the words in journal, in my planner, on the back of my hand. Whenever I looked at them, I remembered that peace, that assurance from somewhere beyond me that everything will be okay.
I found these words again this week when I was flipping through my journal on a particularly stressful evening. I wrote them on a piece of paper and stuck them on the wall. It’s made a difference, that reminder.
I don’t like admitting that Carrie Underwood could be a spiritual leader, but she does have a point. Sometimes we try and try and try–and there’s something to be said for trying–but we also need to be able to let go and allow the Divine to take the wheel. All will be as it should be. All will be as it needs to be.