My mother loves to tell the story that when I was two years old, I taught myself how to tie my shoes. I’d asked her several times to teach me. Although she said she’d teach me when I got bigger, I insisted that she show me how to do it. So, she did. One afternoon she spent 45 minutes patiently demonstrating shoe-tying step by step, as I diligently attempted to follow her instructions. But I couldn’t get it, and I became very frustrated. “Baby, you’re too young,” she said in a comforting, motherly tone. “We’ll try again when you get a little older,” she promised, leaving me in my bedroom to play while she went to cook dinner. Apparently, I didn’t do much playing, she recalls. To her utter astonishment, I emerged from my room an hour later—shoes perfectly tied. When she asked how I did it, I replied in my then-Southern drawl, “I jes figgiditout!” (Translation: “I just figured it out!”)

Throughout my childhood, it became a phrase I’d use whenever I figured something out on my own. But as I entered adulthood and began to grow spiritually, I noticed that figuring things out isn’t always as easy as just deciding to do so. Not everything in life is as simple as “just figuring it out.” Of course, there are definitely times in life when your determination to understand something is essential. Perseverance is the key to your success when you set out to live a purposeful life. However, there are some things in life that we can waste our energy trying to figure out. It is in those situations that we must be willing to let go, pray for wisdom, and trust God.

Identify the things in your life that you have been fruitlessly trying to figure out. Here are a few of the most common:

  • When “the one” will come into your life so you can get married.
  • Why something happened that you wish had not occurred.
  • Why you are trying to figure out and fix someone else’s problem.
  • When a long-awaited door will open in your life.
  • Why some people are blessed in certain ways that others are not.
  • Why it’s taking longer than you anticipated to see your dream come true.

In what area of your life do you find yourself frustrated and trying to figure out something that perhaps is not meant to be figured out? Doing so consistently can lead you to be stuck, angry, or aggravated with God. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding,” Proverbs 3:5 reminds us. Sometimes our knowledge is too limited to figure out why things happen (or don’t happen) the way they do. God sees the big picture. Our job is to trust completely. You can learn to accept a difficult situation while continually learning and growing spiritually.

When you don’t know what to do or how to deal with certain situations, ask for wisdom. Stop trying to figure it out. Let go of the need to control when and how a situation will resolve itself. Take a deep breath. Pray for wisdom. Then slow down and get quiet enough to hear that still, small voice whisper words of comfort, peace, and wisdom into your spirit.