When my body hit the floor hard, I knew instantly that I had done something terrible to myself. The commercial for the elderly went through my head: “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”. Seriously, did this just happen? There I lay, helpless and alone, limited by my sudden and unexpected brokenness.
When I think of that day I think of a single word: surrender. I didn’t plan this, but it happened, just as most of life does. There was no “undo” or “mulligan”. This was not a bad dream I could wake up from. This happened.
First, I had to surrender to the kindness of strangers, because I was a helpless (though well-dressed) heap on the floor of Walmart. It didn’t take long for others to notice me there and come to my side, for which I was thankful. They called for help in the form of an ambulance. They didn’t hear the three words I said under my breath: “Help me God”—my call for help.
He sent that help in the form of a co-worker, who stayed by my side, held my hand and made me laugh. My co-worker got me home in the middle of a snow storm with the help of another co-worker. I surrendered to them my keys and my trust that day, because they could do what I could not. I will never forget the kindness they showed to me, and the God who sent them to me.
This surrender is a complicated thing. We are such independent beings, always determined to do things on our own from the time we take our first steps. I see it in my almost 2-year-old granddaughter who has discovered her own will and is determined to fight against the giants in her life in her own way and on her own terms. Until we hit a wall (in her case, her parents, and in my case, the floor) we don’t realize fully our dependence on our Heavenly Father and others. We are limited by our own brokenness, shortcomings, and humanness.
Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and I struggled to find a suitable devotional to share with the staff. Most were just too sappy for me. Mother’s Day has been, for years, one of the most difficult days for me. I try to avoid it still. Not because I don’t like my mother—she’s amazing as mothers go—but because of the pain that became attached to it for me for a time that seemed to go on forever, when my own child despised me. That day is mixed with the best memories of my life and the worst.
I had a recent conversation with a mom who shares similar struggles with motherhood and the challenges. We discussed having to manage our own day-to-day struggles along with the countless struggles of those who depend on us—our children (each with their own needs), our husbands, our grandchildren, aging parents and those in our workplaces. Most of us try and meet all the needs around us while neglecting our own.
We talked about how wonderful it would be if we could split and become clones of ourselves. One for each child, for our husband, and for our workplace. Most of us would forget one for our own selves. It is impossible to meet the needs of all these people, though, try as we might.
Phil 2:3-4 …in humility value others above yourselves, let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others”
We tend to do that almost too well, until we can’t. I learned this only when I came to the end of my rope with my daughter’s struggle with addiction. After over a decade of trying to get her to the help she needed, to rescue and to fix her, and correct my own shortcomings as a mom. We will call that guilt.
Surrender sounds like giving up—but maybe it is the opposite. Maybe it’s about who we surrender to. We need each other. God designed us that way. We were never meant to carry life’s burdens alone. In my daughter’s case, I surrendered to experts who knew better than I, and even more importantly, I surrendered her to the God who created her and loves her beyond what I could ever imagine.
Phil 4:13 says: I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me (KJV)
This is one of my favorite Bible versus but I have often lived it like this: I can do all things in my own strength until I can no longer stand, and then I ask… help me God.
Let us think of the things that we can do and do them well, and let us surrender that which is out of our control daily to the one who controls all things…our kids, our families, our jobs, and our futures.