Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us RUN with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1
Surrender: to yield to the possession and power of another; to give up, abandon, relinquish; to give oneself up.
I am being called by God to surrender. I am being asked to die. To myself. To my most selfish instincts. He is asking me to lay down every weight that has been hindering me. He is requiring me to repent. As I write this to you, I am overwhelmed with emotion. I have been so weighed down these past few years. The load has literally exhausted me and I have barely been able to crawl.
Here's a little of what has been weighing me down (ok - it's a lot). Perfectionism. Control. People pleasing. Seeking approval. Fear of pretty much everything - loss of control, lack of money, loss of people's approval. Life got hard. A time of testing and struggle. God wasn't showing up the way I expected Him to. Our life was going in a direction I hadn't planned on. My security was going down the drain. The only person I could depend on was myself (or so I believed) and I went into hyper-control mode. All my life I felt I could control and structure a perfect life that would avoid hardship and keep me happy, healthy and safe. And now I could no longer trust God and His plan. Because I could NOT make sense of it. It didn't fit into how I thought my life was supposed to go.
When we came to downtown to plant the church, it was difficult for me. Ok - more than difficult. Paralyzing. Anxiety provoking. Fear was my daily companion. Then it was anger, questioning God and eventually a refusal to trust Him or relinquish control. We went thru a very difficult time financially. We were put in a position with the economic downturn that we had to short sell two properties. One property was supposed to be our "dream home". All gone. We adopted our daughter about 9 months after starting the church. Such a blessed and exciting event in our lives. But the changes of becoming a mother just compounded the constant fear, anxiety and eventually depression.
I have always felt a burning call from God on my life for redemptive work (a beautiful term I read in Rebekah Lyons book "Freefall to Fly"). And I have seen God's hand at every turn, confirming and re-confirming this call. But I almost walked away. I was so bound up in my issues that all I could do was lash out and blame God/ministry/church - anything and anyone but never myself. Until now.
Over this past year, my eyes have been opened. God has gently kept pursuing me. It began when I underwent surgery last October for a huge ovarian cyst. The surgery also confirmed a diagnosis of endometriosis. I was having severe PMS symptoms and very painful periods. What was going on? As I began to dig deeper, I realized my thought life, anxiety and fear were actually making me physically ill.
I still struggled. I could not let go and trust. The fear would rise up in me and I would almost panic. But God was there. Next to me. Speaking to me. Encouraging me. Waiting patiently for me to wake up. Waiting for me to give up. Waiting for me to open my heart, despite my fears, and trust Him.
I would like to say that surrender suddenly became easy for me. That the clouds parted and a warmth enveloped me. That God's audible voice spoke to me, chasing away all my fears and issues. But that's not what happened. It was a choice. I was desperate for peace and I knew that surrender was my only way to peace. I repented. And repented again. And I finally let go.
Surrender for me is daily. It is something I am constantly aware of. I pray for His will to be done, not mine. I tell God every day that I will do whatever He asks of me. At whatever cost. I tell Him I will follow Him down whatever path He asks me to go. And it's not easy.
But you know what? I feel free. For the first time in a very long time, I feel free. He is slowly breaking off strongholds in my life. I have this new hope blooming in my spirit that maybe there is a new way to live. That maybe I can be the person I know God created me to be. That I can fulfill His calling on my life. That I can re-discover my gifts. I can rest in knowing that this call will be unique. I won't have to worry about what everyone else is doing. Such a relief. And I won't have to crawl. My sin is covered by Jesus' sacrifice for me. I am ready to RUN.
*I would love to hear your comments. Dialogue with each other is essential for the building of our faith. It's an honor to be in community with you.
Saturday, August 11, 2012
Life is life - no way to escape the tough times. No way to avoid the housing collapse (yes, we bought two properties right before everything went south). No way to avoid getting older. No way to avoid a budget, illness, conflict, people, mistakes, bad breath, bad drivers, bad sushi...even death. I can't even avoid the Terrible 3's (yes, 3's - not 2's!!) with my precious daughter. All this time we've had a sweet angel who was so delightful and fun. Now don't get me wrong - she's still all those things and more. But OMG - all of the sudden she's morphed into an alien! The word "no" is no longer in her vocabulary. She will scream and drop to the floor, yell, refuse her bath, try to spit and hit, and refuse to do even the most basic requests. Last week, she turned her precious little hands into guns and tried to shoot me from her time out chair. It has left us baffled and stressed and in Barnes and Noble looking for books. One thing that helps is her binky (see attached picture - yes, even in the pool) and despite all the warnings, we let her have it on tough days, just to help keep her mouth closed.
One particularly tough day, the words ran through my head, "I'm being driven to drink". Amira has her binky. So what's my "feel better" friend? What will help me make it through this moment? If someone had handed me a shot of vodka or a Xanax, I would have seriously considered it. We all have our little friends to help us de-stress, right? I used chocolate every night for at least a year during a hard time recently. Stashed bag after bag of York Peppermint Patties and Hershey Kisses under my bed. Those little treats did fantastic things to my brain and help me check out - even for a moment.
So is life possible without our little "friends"? What helps us navigate through hard times without checking out? Jesse and I have talked at length about living successfully and keeping a positive attitude, even when the outlook isn't so good. We want to honor God and lean on Him. We want to trust Him, even when He seems silent or far away. We want to put our faith into action. I must admit I didn't do a great job at this in the past. I kinda got a little mad at God and had a pity party. I kinda ate a lot of chocolate and watched a lot of TV. I kinda stopped reading my bible and praying and instead went shopping. I kinda blamed Him for things that just happen in LIFE.
The one thing I know is that God waits for me while I struggle with my faith. He waits for me while I say angry prayers and let my bible collect dust. He waits for me while I go through emotions and questions. He waits for me and doesn't give up on me. And I know God waits for you, too. His love for us is so great. He will stay right by our side even in the darkest moments. I realize now He never causes the storm but instead is my umbrella, my raincoat, my rain boots. And one day, the storm passes and our faith is stronger. Our love for Him is greater. And we finally feel like running to help drop the chocolate pounds.