Every day we trudge on, fighting fights we weren’t meant to fight. We get to an age where our crises have momentum. Our kids struggle and the things we thought were hard when they were young seem trivial. Our marriages have become a boulder racing downhill with destruction ahead.
Then we have another fight in a different arena, then another. Things pile on. The new day-to-day things may not be BIG issues, or fights, but when we’re barely hanging on emotionally, anything is a big deal!
Every day, we stand at a crossroads between two distinct paths, two possible reactions. Most people live life having no clue that there’s another option…a road less traveled, as it were.
The options are this: continue fighting, becoming wearier and wearier. This path you are 100 percent responsible for the outcome. If there’s a shift and it improves, then YAY ME! You get the glory! But, if things don’t improve, then you carry the burden of guilt and fear.
Fear has you parent — or deal with any situation — from a foundation that’s crumbling. It makes your chest tight. It makes you angry. It makes you attached to the outcome. It has you scream, say things with venom and sarcasm, or say nothing in a stony silence that speaks hate.
Guilt is even worse. It’s like a running charge at a store that is ignored for years. It may seem like the balance will never come due, but it will. And, there’s no escape. Except there will be escape…from the fight. But, that escape will be into death or dementia.
The other option is just so wildly improbable that it will seem like no option at all. It will feel like a cop out — like letting those you’ve been fighting with “get their way.” It will go against everything we’ve been trained, indoctrinated, to believe and do. And, so few do it that there are few to testify.
This other option is to stand back and say, “Okay, God. I am done. It’s now all YOU.” What comes next will probably — if we’re really, really honest — sound something like this, “I don’t trust You. I think everything will go south fast. Let’s see what YOU can do…which is nothing…because I’ve never seen any kind of proof of the ‘power’ that You supposedly have.”
I’m just keeping it real. This is stuff we often don’t even admit to ourselves!
Our deepest, darkest secret is that most of us don’t trust God. We give reeeeeeeeally good lip service, if anything. But, it’s just that. How many of us have proof that God really still does what He did in the Bible?
I believe from the very most honest parts of my heart that it’s because we are really good managers of our homes, our lives. Our emotions. We rarely need God in a miraculous way! And, in the very first moment that we do need Him (typically in our early adult years), we have no example, no modeling, no reason to trust! And so, we begin our life of fighting fights.
By the time we get to the really big fights — the fights for our marriages, the fights for our kids’ hearts, the fights for our relationship with God — we have a life of proof that God doesn’t work miracles, that it’s only by our own striving that anything gets done.
But, I’m here to testify that there IS another way. This way is the hardest thing you’ll ever do, going in. I didn’t take this road because I wanted to!
I think of this analogy. Our life, fighting alone, is like standing on a cliff made of dirt. Sometimes in our lives, the dirt feels pretty stable under our feet. Other times, it’s like that cliff crumbling! We struggle to keep our feet, remain standing. Other days, we just lay there gasping for breath as we grapple to hold onto the ground as it falls away under our fingers, past the ability to even fight it!
In 2010, the cliff under my feet was just gone. Gone. Nothing left.
The crisis in 2010 brought me face to face with this second choice — the wildly improbable path at the crossroad is one of swallowing pride…one of just taking a deep breath and stopping the fight. This literally means stopping. The. Fight. All the fights.
We read about the Bible stories that are miraculous. Peter walking on water. The fish and loaves. Healings. It all seems so far removed from the REAL issues we deal with! Those are nice for sermons and Sabbaths and all! But, they’re not applicable to the day-to-day problems I deal with!!
In 2010 it became very clear to me that there was nothing left to fight, nothing left to fear, since my very worst fear had come true: I had lost my family. Lost my kids. Holidays would never again hold the same joy.
And so, it came to be that one dark early-summer night, I took my first step on the second path, the second option. I had no idea how it would all turn out, but I decided that I had no other reasonable choice. Had I even had a half-viable other option, I would have opted for that.
What it looked like was that I stood all alone on my back porch with my hands lifted high and I gave up. I gave it all up! I gave up my fight. I gave up my striving. I gave everything…but E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G…up. Including my children.
You see, I had this superstition, a superstition that was deep seated and based on experience. If I gave God permission to do something, He’d do it. No kidding. A decade before, I’d told him in a conversational prayer that was almost more of a mindless thought, “Whatever it takes to bring Whitney [my husband] closer to you, I give you permission to do.”
Less than two weeks later, Whitney lost his job.
He was unemployed for almost two years.
Our marriage almost didn’t survive those two years.
Coincidence? Perhaps! But, until that night on my deck, I wasn’t willing to run the risk!
And so, when I say I gave up my kids, I mean I gave up my children like Abraham gave up Isaac. I stood on that back porch and I said to God, “Okay, God! I give it all to You! Whatever I have, I give up! I give you my kids! If you have to take them [and I meant “if they have to die”], I give you permission! I give you everything, including me!”
That was the day my superstition died.
I discovered that my children, me, my family, were safe in my Father’s hands. Safe from physical harm. Safe from all the harms I might imagine.
I realized that after years of contending for my husband in his relationship with God, contending for my children on multiple levels, I had been in effect saying to the Creator God who speaks galaxies and universes into existence, “…[glances upward, holding up an index finger]…hold on a minute. I got this…”
And, all it had gotten me was broken relationships. It had gotten me guilt and fear. And in 2010, it got me the failure of my marriage.
In the giving it all up, God restored me. He gave me some good ol’ fashioned miracles!! Like…of biblical proportions!
He choreographed, in the most minute detail, the restoration of my marriage. Unimagineable, impossible, unbelievable, mind-blowing miracles!
No, my husband has not turned into a strong and mighty man of God. He still struggles with the whole concept of God, given the physical, emotional, and religious abuse he was dealt as a child. That would be my husband’s miracle, in any case. And, I’m no longer in the habit of sticking my nose in my husband’s relationship with God.
But, my husband no longer has a wife who tsk-tsks over him, trying to emotionally manipulate him, bully him (regardless of how subtlety…or not), or guilt him into “doing” religion the right way. He has a wife who respects the path that God has him on. Some days he has no clue what to do with that, and the past is a spectre he has to fight. I let him do that too.
In response to my flat-out giving up, God has piled miracle after miracle on my head and in my heart; I’m not the same woman. The biggest miracle has been me. How I see my husband, my kids. How I see their struggles. How I respond to their struggles, their failures, their missteps. It’s so humbling to watch. I am so profoundly thankful.
How about you? Many of you stand at that same crossroad. While you may not avail yourself of it yet…it took me until my mid-40s to come to it…just know. There’s another option.