We Are the Clay, and Thou the Potter

Let go and let God

Have you ever had a recurring nightmare? I have. It started when I was a very young child. I would be standing all alone in an empty room holding on to one end of a toothpick. On the other end was a ball of gray clay that was slowly spinning. As the clay rotated, it grew. It kept getting bigger and bigger, and heavier and heavier. It was my job to hold the toothpick and balance the spinning, growing ball of clay.

The ball eventually filled up the entire room, still sitting atop the toothpick. As the ball grew, so did an ominous feeling of being completely overwhelmed. The weight and mass of the clay were such that I should not have been able to hold or balance it, yet there I was, keeping it all on a toothpick, all by myself. It was scary—terrifying, actually. I felt utterly incapable of doing it, but I seemed to have no choice but to continue trying to do the impossible.

My mom has told me that I was a very independent child. As a toddler, I would always say, “I do it myself!” I guess that was a good thing when she had a baby 14 months after me, and another baby 15 months after him! I had to be independent. I had to “do it myself” a lot. I am learning as an adult, however, that “I do it myself” leaves me alone, terrified, overwhelmed, stuck, and frustrated. Life is too hard. Life is too big and too heavy. And my effort to try to do it on my own was like trying to balance a massive spinning ball of clay on a toothpick.

I told my mom about that dream a few years ago. She was taking a pottery class at the time. Several days afterward, she came to my house with a beautiful little clay pot that she had made for me. With it was a note she had written that read,

“But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.” Isaiah 64:8

Molly, I hope you can give that ball of clay to the Lord. He will make something beautiful with it, like this little pot. Use this pot to hold things that make you happy, and when you see this little pot that used to be a ball of clay, remember to let go and let God.

Love, Mom

Let go and let God. “What, am I supposed to just sit and do nothing and hope God takes care of everything?” some may ask. No, there is plenty to do. But we do it in His way and in His timing. We do what we can and let go of the rest, trusting that He has us. We stop trying to be in control of everything, trusting that God always knows what is best for us and for those we love. We don’t need to fix everything and everyone. We can’t do it. That’s God’s work. 

I love this prayer found in A.A. literature:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

And this paragraph:

Acceptance is the answer to all of my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life—unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake . . . Unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes. (A.A. Big Book, p. 417)

God still sends me gentle reminders that I’m not in charge. A few mornings ago, I was out on a beautiful sunny day, walking a trail near my home. My cute little black puppy was on his leash out ahead of me, trotting along happily. He frequently got distracted by something and tried to veer off the trail. Finally, I said to him, “C’mon Pup! Don’t you know—you are here for me!”

As soon as I said the words, I felt God say the same thing to me! I am so easily distracted by shiny, pretty things, by worries, by busying myself, etc. Those are the times when I am grabbing back my big ball of clay, forgetting who the Potter is, thinking I can do it myself. Things turn out so much more beautiful when I submit to God’s will, give Him my life—the clay ball—and let Him carry it and shape it into something truly beautiful.

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  • Camille

    You’re an amazing writer!! This is such a wonderful story/analogy/experience!! Thank you for sharing it with me!!