Why is it that the most challenging circumstances have a way of digging up the bones buried from seasons past? I thought I patched that thing up in my heart up ages ago. I thought I was so over it. Yet there I was, literally covering my mouth with my hands, “It will all be okay. Breathe, Brittany, breeeathe….” Words pierced like daggers, letting fear come flooding in through the huge, gaping hole that was left by them, and I sat there baffled at where all that pent up emotion crept in. I suddenly felt 21 all over again.
Around six years ago, my mom received news that she had cancer—a day I’ll never forget. There are times in your life when you hear, you see, but all you actually feel is numbness—as if all around you is dumbed down to some faint and foggy recollection of people and places.
Within the last few weeks, my mom’s doctors confirmed that the cancer returned in her bones, a report which is challenging my faith daily:
Do I trust Him? Do I believe that He is good? Why would He allow these things to happen to my mom AGAIN? I thought she was healed? WHAT NOW?
Well, the reality is that nobody is promised a tomorrow. The Bible doesn’t grant us immunity from bad things happening to us. It doesn’t say that just because we walk with Jesus, we won’t have hard times. It does, however, promise us a Savior, Redeemer, a Comforter, a Victor! Jesus says, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT)
When the bad reports come, when things just don’t go the way I hope or imagine, the hardest part for me isn’t necessarily the answer that I dislike (in this case, it OBVIOUSLY is) — it’s more the “letting go” part that trips me up. Letting go of what I deem right, of my own expectations, of what “should be”. I’m not good at this by any means. I do so much better with closure, with clear boundaries, with black and white. “Gray area”, the unknown, is just uncomfortable. And when it comes, it pains me to say my default response is not always to lean in and trust Jesus, but to problem solve, strategize and find a solution to make it work, no matter the cost. It’s like I want to hold on to that problem, because somewhere in between my fierce determination and downright stubbornness, I really, truly believe I can find a way to fix it myself if I try hard enough.
My first inclination, honestly—is to obtain control. And therein lies my problem: I won’t allow myself to fully trust God and let go, surrender everything to Him. When I hold on to circumstances and try to fix them on my own, I, by my actions:
- assume that God is not good; therefore He will not come through.
- say that God is not there for me; so therefore, I must be alone.
- make myself an idol by putting my abilities and understanding above the ever-faithful nature of God, relying on myself before I put any trust in Him.
This isn’t a proud moment. I wish I could say I do this right every time. While it’s always the heart wrenching experiences that drive home the hardest lessons learned, the grace of God shown each time draws me even closer to Him.
I will never forget the night my dear friend Steph taught me the lesson of what I call “loving something with an open hand”. In spite of an aching heart, she, holding her hands palms side up, reminded herself and God daily that she wouldn’t hold onto something that wasn’t even hers in the first place. She laid it down; literally right out in front of her like it was sitting in her own two hands, symbolizing her surrender and complete trust in Him.
Since that conversation, I have literally cried out to God with my hands held wide open in front of me, saying, “Here it is, Lord. Take it! It’s Yours. I give up control. I give up my right to understand. I surrender this to You. I will continue to love with open hands.” And even when I do that, I often find it’s an act I must do again and again until I really believe in my heart what I’m speaking out of my mouth.
What does it even mean to with an open hand? Loving with an open hand definitely does NOT mean waiting for a hand out. It means to love, yes—but it means to be willing to let go at any given moment. Actually… if I’m doing it right, I’m not holding on to it in the first place. There are no white knuckles that have to be peeled away from something I’ve held so dear; something I believe belongs to me.
It means to surrender.
It means to let go of all that I know and believe to be within MY own power.
It means to CHOOSE peace over the reality of my circumstance.
It means to release myself of the pressure or even the perceived obligation of making everything work out the way I think it should.
It means to fully, COMPLETELY trust in Jesus.
Why? Well, it never works out the way I think it should anyway; I never really can control those things; AND it’s not my job to worry about it. And above all else, Jesus commands us to live according to a different standard, so there’s that.
Matthew 6:27, 30-34 (NLT) says,
“Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
He already KNOWS all our needs. What a comfort, huh? Before I knew I needed to begin praying for my Mom, He already knew—He sent angels to surround and uphold her before I even knew she needed them. I am learning that once I let go, there is such incredible freedom in trust and complete abandonment unto Jesus—the lightest of loads as only He intended for me to bear.
Maybe you’re reading this and your heartstrings are feeling a little tug as the Lord whispers to you:
“Do you trust Me? Are you willing to walk the paths without seeing all of the steps laid before you? Have I not promised to take care of you?”
Make a decision today to let go of what you’re holding on to, and instead choose peace. It doesn’t negate the reality of circumstances; it means choosing the reality that God’s goodness triumphs over EVERYTHING. Because it does! The sooner you relinquish all ownership unto Jesus, the sooner you walk in complete freedom. He will steady your heart.
“Even when it hurts, even when it’s hard, even when it all just falls apart.
I will run to You, Cause I know that You are
Lover of my soul, Healer of my scars, You steady my heart.” -KJ