Today I’ve been thinking about and praying for a couple of friends who are struggling. From the cheap seats, it’s easy to see that both are in need of a surrender, but from experience I know that’s so much easier said than done.
I’ve been there. I wanted to get married and have babies about as much as anyone I’ve ever known and because that was what I believed had to happen for me to be truly happy, I spent years blocking myself off from real joy because I knew what my life was supposed to look like. For years I tried to will my way into love and then threw my leftover energy into trying to will someone else into loving me and when that didn’t work according to my plan, anger, envy, and self-pity consumed me. The cherry on top of my self-will sundae was that I felt completely justified because life isn’t fair and by God it ought to be.
Then one day I gave up. I can’t really explain how that happened except that I was exhausted from trying to get God and the universe to bend to my will and in a fit of sanity, I finally accepted that I just wasn’t powerful enough to make that plan work–not today, not tomorrow, not ever. I’m sure there are people who can reach that point without massive amounts of pain, but those aren’t my people. And here’s the the funny thing about my people, they can listen to hundreds of stories of people just like them fighting the exact same kind of battle they are fighting, and they can hear hundreds of people say, “And then one day I just gave up the fight,” and my people think yeah, but my thing isn’t like your thing so that’s not going to work for me. At that point you can throw a little Herbert Spencer* at them just to be annoying but usually you just wait for the pain and exhaustion to do their thing and you pray for them until they can pray on their own.
The rest of my story is pretty simple: I did fall in love and no one was more surprised than I was. Babies weren’t in the cards for us, but that hasn’t kept us being able to love and be loved by our family, friends, and our very special pets and while I would never presume that this is the same as having kids, our life is full and happy most of the time. I am thankful for the path I’m on and I try to live in grace and gratitude for the gifts I have rather than focusing on the things that aren’t mine today. I’ve gotten to practice surrender again and again on jobs, and home, and death, and money, and each time I give up a little quicker, with fewer bruises, and a little less bitterness so far. Occasionally I feel like I understand why things happened they way they did, but often I file it under, “it is what it is,” and move the best way I know how.
Yesterday, at church the minister talked about this verse:
I think that’s where I find my peace after I’ve finally given up my design for some particular part of my life–I can rest in the hope and later in the knowledge that God not only has a plan, but God is the plan. Serving God and others is where my joy comes from, it is where my peace resides and is the only true purpose I’ve known. I pray that my friends will find that place of peace and solace in God’s will too even if it doesn’t look or feel the way they think it should.
Have a miraculous Monday!
*There is a quote in the book, Alcoholics Anonymous attributed to Herbert Spencer that reads, “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” The internet has just informed me that the quote may actually have come from someone named, William Paley but either way, that’s the quote I was referring to.