Good evening, I haven’t killed myself! PLEASE CLAP. Sorry. I’m feeling a little punchy today. Last night, I popped a couple of generic Benadryls in a frantic attempt to get some actual sleep for a change. It was at least somewhat successful, but those little pink pills are known to do…things…to my mood. My idiot ex-husband used to call them “the angry pills.” He wasn’t wrong.
Still Here, Now What?
I’ve heard a lot of Christian speakers talk about surrendering over the years. One tale that comes to mind had a mother despairing over her child; I don’t remember if the kid was sick or injured or what, but its life was hanging by a thread. The mom didn’t want to let go. A missionary gently urged her to release the child to the Lord. Long story short, mom eventually had her “Not my will but thine” moment. She agreed to let God have the kid if that was what he wanted. The child then recovered from whatever the life-threatening issue was.
I heard this story (from the missionary in question) many years ago. It stuck with me, and pops up periodically when I’m going through hard times. This morning, I found myself thinking, “If I let my stuff go, will that fix everything?”
I’ve bounced around the various stages of grief this year, not necessarily in order. “Depression,” duh, a lot. I think the time at my former landlords’ home was mostly “Denial;” I was simultaneously ignoring how serious things were, and convincing myself that things would magically turn around somehow because that’s what people needed to see. “Anger” comes and goes in fits and spurts, usually involving my former boss or fair-weather friends. At no point have I reached “Acceptance” in the sense that I’m trusting everything to be okay. However, I’ve hovered around “Bargaining.”
I am so, so, so tempted to try to negotiate with God, and I know how stupid that is. Yet here I am, allowing those idiotic thoughts to flit across my little grey cells.
Maybe he’ll let me keep my [bed, couch, etc.] if I just offer it to him.
If I promise to do whatever he wants, he might prevent my car from getting repossessed.
I could make a commitment to [fill-in-the-blank ministry] and give [X percentage] of my income if he would just let me not lose all of my possessions again.
Maybe if I [perform whatever performative act], he’ll [provide something that I think I need].
God Is Not a Genie
I fight off these thoughts when they crop up. I’m overwhelmingly embarrassed that they even occur to me. A relic, I suppose, of my deeply flawed carnal nature.
The Creator of the Universe is the owner of everything. Trying to haggle and barter with someone who not only holds the deed to the cosmos, but is omniscient AND omnipotent, would be a fool’s errand. He has no obligation to give me what I want if I say the correct series of magic words and rub the lamp in just the right way. I know this.
So…surrender? Acceptance? Or giving up? What’s the difference, at this point?
How Can I Know?
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (KJV)
In Matthew 16:24, the word “deny” is the same Greek word used elsewhere describing Peter’s denial of Christ. The sense is of total disavowal, disowning, severance. At the same time, the reference to taking up one’s cross is a brutal reminder of the sacrifice he was going to make. Jesus is telling us, in so many words, that in order to follow him, we need to separate from our old selves, to the point where we’re willing to die for his sake.
I get this, but I don’t get it. Not in practical terms. I’m not a “why” person, I’m a “how” person. I don’t want people quoting endless Bible verses at me about WHY I should do this or do that or not do this or not do that. I need the HOW.
As I continue to circle the drain of my existence, briefly uplifted from moment to moment by random kindness from Internet strangers and randos in real life, I find myself asking how, how, how.
When In Doubt, Pray
My conversations with God are unfocused of late. They consist largely of panic and frantic half-awake pleadings in which I vaguely beg him to either let me hibernate or let me die but either way help me, help me, help me.
It occurs to me now, having popped another generic Benadryl in hopes that I can get some REM sleep tonight, that I’m going about things the wrong way, as usual. Instead of trying to surrender or trying to understand how to do so, I should ask the Lord to do it for me.
I’ve done this kind of thing before, in matters of forgiveness. “You know I don’t really want this, you know my heart. Please change my desire.”
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (KJV)
Philippians 4:13 is one of those verses that I know very well, but can’t relate to. I can’t do this. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.