I surrender all
I like this image. I wanted something that depicted the surrendered life as I feel it to be. A free fall into something unknown and mysterious and maybe a bit dark and frightful. Yet, you fall nonetheless hoping that the landing is soft and you are able to stand up, brush yourself off and keep moving -- even doing so with joy and thankfulness because you indeed made it without falling into oblivion.
For me the surrendered life is a hard life to accomplish. I haven't done so thus far without struggle. Maybe that's the point - it will always feel like what this picture depicts. Slightly unnerving and out of control.
Out of my control.
Maybe that's the foundation of my fear: Letting go of my need to control every aspect of my life (and sometimes the lives of others) so I can fully depend on God.
This morning I re-read pages in the book Classic Christianity by Bob George and he touches on this need for full dependence on Jesus, but points out that until you first understand how greatly you are loved by God it will be hard for you to rest in that place of dependence on Him.
As touched on in my post, Let's Get Real, I'm not so good about loving myself. So I struggle with loving God. I can't shake this crippling belief that He's a mean taskmaster who allows the enemy to mess with me and keep me in bondage. Yet, like in that post, how much have I really asked the Lord to liberate me from these attacks, strongholds and bad habits?
James 4:3 says, you have not because you ask not. That has been an issue with me. I've simply stopped asking. I've chosen to be grumpy, discouraged, depressed and upset. It's not a good look. It only reinforces my self-loathing and impedes my ability to approach God with love and devotion in my heart - and expectation that He indeed wants the best for me - even when it sometimes has to come through pain, suffering and loss.
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither be afraid.
He clearly expressed this to His disciples in John 14:27. If I believe that His word is true, why all the doubt? Why do I strain to fall into His everlasting arms?
It's easier for me to pray that others do this. I have an unadulterated belief that His embrace is there waiting for us, so we can nuzzle up to his chest, and hear and feel his heart beat in rhythm with our own...
As I'm writing this, I'm seeing a clear picture of my underlying problem: As a child, there was no bosem on earth for me to rest in or chest to lie on. My parents were unable to simulate this for me so it's a foreign concept - even uncomfortable for me to consider that someone, who is not a boyfriend, with its requisite sensual or sexual attachments, would want to hold me in their arms for an extended period of time just because.
I want to touch on this a bit more in a post I plan to do about negotiating life with Jonathan as he's growing up - but I've noticed that as he gets taller and slowly loses that little boyness, I'm finding it harder to be affectionate with him in the way I was when he was say a baby or toddler, or even when he was between the ages of 4-7.
Today, while visiting my mom, a lovely, fellow resident, tottled in on her walker and simply said to Jonathan "I want to give this sweet boy a hug." He stood up and with gratitude accepted her warm embrace as well as a kiss on the cheek. As she tottled back out he expressed his thanks, "That really made me feel good. Thanks so much."
As I was feeding my mom, I asked him, "Don't I give you enough hugs?"
Without hesitation he replied, "No mom, you don't."'
His response socked me in the chest! I thought I was still being affectionate with him, but he said I really only give him hugs before he goes to bed.
He still wants to hold hands and I often brush it off. It's too hot. It's uncomfortable.
He sits close to me and lays his head on my shoulder or rests his hand on my thigh and for some reason, now it feels uncomfortable. It did not when he was smaller.
As I reflect on my childhood, I think these reactions are all symptoms of the missing affection that disappeared from my life likely once I got to around age 4 or so. I think most babies and toddlers get hugged and kissed and held -- it's natural. Their cute and cuddly. Most people can't help it.
However, I have no recollection of this early affection and definitely none thereafter. My earliest memory is around 2 and my mother throwing oatmeal at my dad in anger (that's for another post - well actually a book I'm planning to write about my mother). And then most of my memories start at 4. There were no kisses, hugs, me resting on my mother's bosem or shoulder...my dad picking me up and giving me kisses and hugs. None at all.
I remember finding it odd when my cousin, Lorri, one year younger, went up to her mother on a hot day and just laid her head in her mom's lap. Aunt Joan didn't fully react, but she did let her just lay there. I had never done that with my mother, nor did I feel it was okay to do so.
In a nutshell, I suppose what you've never known might be very hard to embrace when the opportunity presents itself.
Yet, our Father continues to offer His everlasting arms to me so I can free fall into them.
But there was such a severe, impenetrable wall in our home that forbid me to even think to do that with my parents. So now, I feel the same with God.
My parents sacrificed and provided above and beyond the essentials of living - shelter, clothes, food, a college education, their presence, a relationship with Christ - and that is more than a lot of the world's children receive. I am grateful. There aren't enough words to express how thankful I am for them both.
Nonetheless, I more easily can recall my mother's wrath and disdain then her love and affection. I can more easily tap into my general awkwardness with my dad - even giving him a kiss on a cheek as an adult remained such a hard thing to do. Is there any wonder that I feel the same about God?
And sadly, I'm starting to set the same pattern with Jonathan.
That stops today.
I need to end this post here and continue my ruminations on the surrendered life at another time.
Someone I love very much needs a hug...