“When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:14-21
At times over the last six months, I have felt like I was sitting back and watching a movie about my own life, with God as the director, weaving delicate pieces of my past, present, and future together to form a plot line I surely would never have created on my own.
Not long after I began posting on “Sister, Stronger” last year, life handed us a big setback. My husband, Adam, lost his job a mere week before Thanksgiving.
I was hurt, and I was angry.
I cried often and had silent shouting fits in the shower—the kind where you let out the energy of shouting, but as if you have bronchitis and can only whisper. It’s actually quite therapeutic, and it has the added bonus of not frightening your family. A real win-win.
As much as I was angry, I was also afraid.
The thought of starting our lives over, yet again, seemed unbearable. The idea of going through another move, unsure as to whether it would lead to another, and yet another, gave me intense anxiety. I couldn’t stand the thought of what it would take to endure another season of transition. I didn’t feel strong enough.
Every day, I fought with despair and depression. There were some days I emerged victorious and other days I did not.
At some point, I allowed my urge to control to take over and decided that the only rational way to solve this problem was for me to find a job. In reality, I wanted an escape and going back to work was a noble way to disguise my intent.
Nevertheless, I updated my resume and spent hours per day pouring over online job boards and perusing websites. I applied for countless jobs. I asked friends for references. I even completed multiple competency evaluations.
Weeks, and then months passed. No one called. I wasn’t invited to a single interview.
The obvious rejection was painful. Even though I knew in my heart that just finding another 9-to-5 wasn’t the answer, in those moments when I felt like I had nothing to protect me from the pain of unwelcomed circumstances, I wanted it to be the answer. I needed to be the one in control of my time, my resources, and my future.
I chose to believe the lie that being in control would keep me safe. Control masks itself as suitable armor for going to battle with all kinds of uncertainty and fear. Yet, the burden it places on the warrior is so great that she eventually collapses from the strain. Relationships with friends, family, and self are often left even more exposed and wounded than before.
There is a better way. It’s not easier, but it is better. It’s called surrender.
Society has perpetuated the act of surrender as a sign of weakness. However, I believe the opposite. To me, surrendering and letting go of control are hallmarks of remarkable inner strength. Surrender is a daily, hour-by hour, minute-by-minute practice. It takes conscious effort and courage.
In recovery (from addiction, codependency, etc.), you learn that surrender is a good thing. Allowing our Higher Power to hold the reins to our lives frees us from the inevitable frustration and hopelessness that comes from trying to do that which is impossible for us, but possible for God and God, alone.
I had to let go of control.
Then, I had to do it again. . .and again, and again, and again.
I realized that I had been looking at my personal challenges and hardships through the lens of maintaining the status quo, rather than that of growth.
I wanted a clear, easy path. Instead, God placed me in challenging situations to deepen my faith and strengthen my character.
I wanted security and comfort. Instead, God lead me through transitions and changes to build resiliency and acquire new skills.
I wanted control. Instead, God allowed me to feel powerless so that I would learn to surrender.
Sister, if you or someone you love is in the middle of a hardship or a season of hardships right now, take heart. God has not abandoned you. He has not abandoned those you love. It is true for you, just as it is true for me, that He has glorious, unlimited resources to empower us with inner strength through His Spirit. We will deal with circumstances that are painful and unjust while we are on this side of heaven, but His love is wider, longer, higher, and deeper than them all. God loves you so much that He will make you complete with all the fullness of life and power that He has to offer.
Growth is a process. It takes time. There will be pain, but in the end, the beauty of God accomplishing infinitely more than we might ask or think will be worth it.
You are so very worth it.
So, let’s grow.