Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Relinquishment

I'm not going to pretend I know how to speak into your pain. I trust that you have it. Maybe your body hurts. Your heart almost certainly does, even if just in one corner, because you miss or long for someone. Perhaps that someone is yourself: someone you used to be, or someone you hope to become. It seems likely to me that things are imperfect in your world, but even if I'm wrong, things are imperfect in the world. We both know that.




Life is painful in this broken place, and I don't have the answers. I don't have even one answer related to one source of my own, personal pain. But in the event that someone may find this helpful, I want to offer: I have started practicing relinquishment. I read an article about it--a reprint by Catherine Marshall--in a recent Guideposts. Then I read it again. And again. I rarely reread like that, but the premise intrigued me and still does.

"Gradually," Marshall writes in the Guideposts article, "I saw that a demanding spirit, with self-will as its rudder, blocks prayer. I understood that the reason for this is that God absolutely refuses to violate our free will; that, therefore, unless self-will is voluntarily given up, even God cannot move to answer prayer." She goes on to explain that Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, becomes our example; He doesn't want to die but--with His own free will, regarding His very life--submits to the will of His Father. 

To relinquish something, or someone, to God is to accept that I am not in control and that I may not see or experience the outcome I think I desire. It is to trust, however, that God is in control; that He knows best; and that He will work all things to my good. It is to remember that He is more concerned with my holiness than my happiness, that I tend to grow more in hard times than in easy ones. (Click here to read an example of Marshall's Relinquishment Prayer.) 


When I look (and read) back, I see clearly that I've tended to relinquish things and people to God only out of utter exhaustion. (See, for example, this post related to my brother's illness, or this post related to my miscarriage.) This, what I'm trying to do now, involves letting go earlier, before I spend all of my emotional energy. 

I almost always pray on my drive to work, and I've been challenging myself with the question: what can I turn over, today? I've offered to God (among other things/people) the spiritual condition of my children, my marriage, my husband, my husband's joblessness, my job situation, my creativity, and various sources of my pain. And I've experienced some manner of peace. I've experienced Immanuel (God with us: me!) in ways that I find personally irrefutable. In seeking Him, I've found Him, and isn't He good for never hiding from us? Isn't He good for working even in our details?

5 comments:

  1. yes...He is good, Brandee. And Kind....and terribly patient with us! He never gives up.... May we remember Him, daily and not just when we get desperate {{hugs}} xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amen. I don't think my tendency has been to forget Him as much as it's been to fail to step back and give Him room to be God. It's hard for me to let go of...anything. Anyone.

      Delete
  2. I needed this reminder. Catherine Marshall blessed me as a young wife and mama through her books. It's extra special that you reminded me of one of her teachings, one I'm definitely needing to practice!

    ReplyDelete