Surrender

Last week I blogged for the first time in five months. I don’t know why I’ve been such a bad blogger… Sometimes I blame it on a busy schedule. Other times I simply can’t be bothered. But after a series of unfortunate incidents last week (see Watch Me post), I found myself longing to share my experience. Writing is how I connect (with myself, the world around me, other people), and when I sat down at my computer on Wednesday, there was really only one thing I wanted to communicate: surrender.

You see, I am a bit of a huge perfectionist. I like everything in my life to be neat and ordered from my hair to my house to the folders on my hard drive. (And if you think I’m picky, you should meet my husband!) I like to have a plan for my life, and yes, I have five-year and ten-year goals and I do everything in my power to reach them. I once told my small group that I was unabashedly ambitious, but I don’t think that’s quite the right description… I’m motivated and enthusiastic. I like to apply myself to something and watch the results turn out pretty much exactly the way I expected. But you know what? All of that is really nothing more than a nice way to say that I’m a control freak.

There. I admitted it. Oh, I know. You’re far from shocked.

Anyway, when I blogged last week I thought I was being so self-aware. And the funny thing is, almost immediately after I sent that post out into the world, I was confronted by how out of touch I can sometimes be. You see, I had gone through a big, personal journey of surrendering my issues and letting go of expectations. I had truly reached a point where I knew there was nothing I could do for myself, where I had to completely abandon my control freak tendencies, and I was just waiting for God to step in and do his thing. I was sure he would do it. And I was sure he’d provide for us in a way that I approved of.

We need money for a spur-of-the-moment adoption, right? Oh, and our fridge broke, I backed into the garage door, ripped the spoiler off our van, and my kid cracked his tooth in half. And I had come to a place where I was totally prepared to let go and let God provide for us.

On my terms.

Approved methods of supernatural provision:

  1. An unexpected raise.
  2. The sale of foreign rights for one or more of my books (to one or more foreign countries).
  3. A remarkable tax return.
  4. The sale of our house for more than we are hoping to receive.
  5. Some as of yet unforeseen windfall or personal miracle.

Yeah. So God didn’t exactly pick off the list. The day after my blog post, my husband got a phone call. A paraphrase:

“Hey, Aaron. I hear you’re adopting again.”

“Yup, we’re pretty stoked!”

“And I heard your fridge quit working.”

“Yeah…”

“So, where are you right now?”

“I’m on my way to Joe’s to look at some used fridges.”

“Imagine that! The Holy Spirit wants to buy you a new fridge today. Go pick one out and we’ll have it delivered to your house tomorrow.”

I know, right? How amazing is that? I have a Holy Spirit fridge in my house, people. That’s some cool beans.

But let’s back up a little bit. Because as awesome as that phone call was to receive (Aaron called me immediately afterward and gave me the play-by-play, which ended in tears — for me, not him), in the aftermath of the excitement, this undeserved gift was surprisingly hard to accept.

There’s a saying that goes, “It’s better to give than to receive.” I can tell you firsthand that sentiment is true — because it is very, very hard to graciously receive. At least, it is for me.

Remember that I’m a perfectionist? That I like to do things well? Another facet of that tendency is that I like to do things on my own. I’m self-reliant and independent, and according to the three-hour personality test I took several years ago, I am a generous giver.

But apparently, I am a really poor receiver.

When I blogged last week, I certainly wasn’t asking for money or using my blog as a passive-aggressive plea for help. Honestly, I had visions of God providing for us in miraculous, unaccountable ways (see list above). And I’m embarrassed to admit that it never once crossed my mind that he might use other people to bring about those much-needed miracles.

Why not? I like to be used. I like to be “the hands and feet of Christ.” Is it so shocking to imagine that maybe someone would like to be grace for me?

Yeah. It is.

Because I’m not poor. I can think of a dozen people in my own neighborhood who have needs greater than my own — and who probably deserve such outrageous kindness much more than I do. Never mind national or global needs.

And yet, for whatever inexplicable reason, God laid it on our refrigerator benefactor’s heart to help us.

I can’t explain it.

I don’t understand it.

But I have to accept it.

I guess God is teaching me about surrender. Just not in the way I hoped he would.

As for you, you hometown philanthropists, email encouragers, sweet, generous friends, thank you. I love watching you be the hands and feet of Jesus to a broken, hurting world… And I pray for the grace to accept it (embrace it!) when you are Christ to me.

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