Searching for control and attempting to control are things that come quite naturally to most people, especially to us women. Fitting my life and its tasks into a box or (even better) onto a list that I can check off with neat little marks somehow gives me fulfillment. And there’s the rub. Far too much satisfaction comes from having situations turn out the way that I want them to resolve, showing my struggle to control my life.
Many people have said that getting married is a guaranteed way to show one’s selfishness, as you learn to live with someone else in a way that follows a vow to love and cherish selflessly. True, it’s an adjustment – one that is an ongoing work in a marriage that desires to love well. A whole new level of selflessness is needed to raise children – a tiny person needs you all the time no matter how you’re feeling or what you’d rather be doing. I recall nights in the weeks after I had my first baby in which we honestly wondered what we had done! We felt like we would never sleep again or have any type of “life” again. (And PAUSE – one of my children is crying and the other one is acting as if she has never before been fed.)
In my pride, I never thought of myself as a selfish person but aren’t we all selfish in our own ways? Add in a husband, a child and then a baby with special needs…and I’ve found myself looking into a mirror of self-reflection showing self-absorption more times than I’d like to recall.
On a quest to be much more like Christ and far less like my own selfish flesh, I’ve been led back to the topic of “surrender.” Over the past couple of months I’ve been challenged as I’ve been reading through A.W. Tozer’s “The Root of the Righteous.” In his chapter called “Narrow Mansions,” he says this, “The widest thing in the universe is not space; is the potential capacity of the human heart. Being made in the image of God, it is capable of almost unlimited extension in all directions. And one of the world’s worst tragedies is that we allow our hearts to shrink until there is room in them for little besides ourselves.”
In what ways do I allow my heart to shrink by focusing on myself, my desires, the way I think life should unfold? And then there is this battle of surrender — surrender seems like giving up, no longer caring, or throwing in the towel. It seems like surrender would make my world smaller, more confining and leave me with next to no control – often a fear we face. The truth of surrender? It IS me giving up control but not ceasing to care. Rather, it’s relinquishing MY control to the ONE who already has it figured out – emptying my wants and replacing them with His peace. A pretty good deal when you stop and think about it.
Tozer goes on to say this: “Only God can work in the heart. The Architect and Builder of the soul alone can build it anew after the cyclone of sin has gone over it and left only one small room standing. If we surrender our hearts to God we may expect a wondrous enlargement.” In 2 Corinthians 6, the apostle Paul is writing to the Corinthians and speaks of having his heart wide open, asking them to widen their hearts as well. God, grip my heart – open it WIDE to know more of You and less of me. Let me experience Your joy even when it means less of my happiness. What areas do you find yourself holding so tightly that there is no room for the unexpected ways that God might ask you to empty yourself for others — or for Him?
Maybe the whole idea of surrender is totally foreign or crazy to you! How, by giving up control, do I gain anything? Surrender is not restriction or less freedom; it is vast abundance and true joy. Gaining this peace comes only from giving your life to Christ. Matthew 16:25-26 – “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him DENY himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?'” Surrender is a repetitive ACTION – it’s giving up my control over and over again with each situation, each day and often moment by moment.
Even on days when my world has been spinning, turned upside down and inside out…when I haven’t held it all together or always had the right responses…I have KNOWN and experienced abundance and joy that I couldn’t possibly conjure up myself. It IS the peace that comes from surrendering what I would naturally want; trusting that God’s plans are ultimately for my eternal abundance instead of my short term comfort.
Not sure where you find yourself today or what you’re struggling to accept that seems completely against what you would ever choose to experience. Can I tell you that this life is just a temporary place in which we find ourselves residing? It’s just for a little while. You don’t have control no matter how hard you try or work to check off all the boxes. Instead of fighting that day after day, GIVE IT to God with open hands. Ask Him to leave your heart wide open.