Welcome to Facets of Faith, a space where three friends share their perspectives on a topic each month. For July, we’re chatting about surrendering our lives to the One who loves us. Be sure to check out what Tracy and Jen had to say by clicking on their names. Kim continues the conversation this week.
This isn’t the life I chose.
I remember walking through downtown London, having just turned 40 while on a trip to visit my oldest daughter on her semester abroad. Meandering my way from Notting Hill toward Big Ben, my thoughts ran faster than my feet would move.
This isn’t the life I wanted.
Every failure seemed to scream for attention. Every failure and poor choice stood glaringly in my way. Ever since my youngest daughter died in a fire that destroyed our home, I feared becoming a statistic, and there were many.
I was a second wife – second marriages fail.
I lost a child – marriages fail after a child dies.
I had just turned 40, lost over 90 pounds, and my marriage was falling apart.
There I was, on a mini-pilgrimage through England, not only a statistic, but a cliche`. I wasn’t sure which was worse. Disappointment clawed at every good memory until all I could see where shredded remnants of a life I thought would last.
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11, NLT
How did I get here?
I didn’t read the Bible a lot as a kid. I knew a lot of the typical stories from Sunday School along with a few key verses I memorized, truths whose roots wrapped around my heart. The first was written in my childhood bible, given to me shortly after my family moved from Connecticut to Illinois. I remember feeling alone and anxious, wondering if I’d make friends, worried we’d move again and my life would be filled with more good-byes.
She is clothed in strength and dignity, she can laugh at the days to come.” Proverbs 31:25, NIV
I didn’t know about the Proverbs 31 woman then, I didn’t understand the lofty expectation this passage often set in women’s hearts. What I did know from the age of 8 was that a woman could be strong and not be afraid of the future. My expectation of life included strength.
A few years later, when I graduated from my children’s bible to a teen version, my mom set another verse in front of me.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV
Freedom shouted from these verses directly to my soul. I could walk in freedom knowing that God guided my steps. I could walk in freedom as I trusted His plan for my life. I could walk in freedom and surrender my expectations and understanding of how life was supposed to be.
Walking in strength with dignity, having no fear of of the future, trusting God and not my own ways, surrendering to His ways in order to gain direction.
Life. Liberty. And the pursuit of surrender.
Knowing these verses was one thing, living them out . . . quite another.
As I grew, my American experience intertwined with my faith. Instead of the pursuit of surrender, I believed that a life following God meant a life filled with good things. With ease. With happiness. With more sunflowers than rain.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9, NLT
When the storm of death crashed into my home, when the heart of my youngest daughter ceased beating, when breath was snatched from my lungs in grief, all that I knew needed to be redefined. All that I expected needed reworking. All that I understood needed a shift in perspective.
I returned to Scripture and dove in, head first. I sucked up its truth as it filled the crevices sorrow had carved. I returned to those verses of my youth and sat with them until they made more sense, until God revealed more of Himself, more of His heart and character. I realized I had to believe all of Scripture or none at all. I either had to believe God or determine He lied. I had to trust that Jesus did love me, or it was all just a childhood song.
I needed to surrender the life I wanted for the one that I lived, even though it included more heartache I ever thought possible to endure.
I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” John 10:10
It’s been six years since I walked the streets of London. Six years filled with a lot of wrestling and questioning, a lot of doubt and fear. Six years filled with hope and healing, with grace and mercy, with redemption and restoration. Six years of learning to shift my eyes to Jesus, the One who does love me, who is the Author and Perfector of my life.
And while there isn’t a grand “happily ever after”, there is a lot of goodness, a life filled with love. The more I surrender to God’s plan for my life, the more I embrace this life I didn’t want, the more I taste His goodness and experience His grace.
No, this still isn’t the life I chose, but I’m learning to walk in strength and dignity, to trust God to lead my steps, and to giggle along the way.
How are you learning to surrender? Share below or head over to our Facebook page. Either way, come join the conversation!