Monday, April 27, 2009

I Am In Charge of Absolutely Nothing - how about you?

(Article written in November 2008)

When I was thirty-one, my husband stopped loving me. Within months, I wondered if he ever really had loved me.

A few years later, my dad died suddenly. For the first time, I experienced grief like never before.

Last week, my daughter announced that she is going to have a baby. She’s not married. She’s not ready to be married. (My daughter had a miscarriage on Dec. 8, thus proving that I really am not in control of anything. . . as I had begun to find joy in the arrival of my first grandchild.)

In times like these, I realize that I am in charge of absolutely nothing. It makes me think this is how the Apostles must have felt when their little boat was going under and there wasn’t a thing they could do about it.

In those moments, I feel one of two emotions. Anger or fear. Usually, though, it’s fear, but neither emotion does me any good.

When I get angry, I usually make a bigger mess of things. In fact, I can’t think of one time when anger has served me well. And so, sometimes, I manage to hold my temper long enough to be tempted by its alter-ego. Fear. When I feel angry, I look out at others and lash out at those around me. When I become afraid, I usually look down and see the spiraling staircase into despair. And I realize how close I really am to giving up on hope and faith.

What I should do, though, is look up. Not out. Not down. But up.

That’s when I hear the voice of love saying, perfect love casts out fear. It’s more a commentary on God’s love for me than my love for Him. His love is perfect. My love isn’t yet perfected. But, I’m trying. And when I look up and search for Him, He tells me, Give it up. Stop trying to control the situation. Stop trying to redeem the situation. Stop trying to protect yourself from the few crosses that you happen to have in this life. The master reminds me that He is in control. He is the redeemer. He is the protector. And any crosses that come my way, well, He has already conquered them all.

It doesn’t mean I won’t have to pick them up and carry them for awhile. It simply means I have been given the grace to do it.

I’m beginning to realize something about crosses. If I pick up the cross and carry it, I realize that there is enough grace. If I decide to throw a tantrum or frantically reconstruct the cross into a more tolerable shape, I never seem to succeed at it. I just get tired – and bitter.

A few years back, I was eating in a restaurant and began choking. When I realized that I was not able to clear my throat, I panicked and began thrashing about horribly to get someone’s attention. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t do anything, except travel straight through the valley of the shadow of death.

My husband attempted the Heimlich some seven or eight times. I realized, I was probably going to die right then and there. Okay, I said (to myself and to God). Okay, let’s just get on with it if this is it. And I wondered if I would see Our Lord’s face when I passed through the darkness. That was one scary cross. I didn’t want it. But I said okay, Lord, okay.

And peace came over me. The kind of peace that comes when you tell God, okay.
In that very moment, the food shifted in my throat. I coughed and coughed. And the air rushed in.

I’d have to say that is the moment when I felt the least control over my own life, and still, God was there. And He’s promised to be with me always, even when I face days like this. Okay, Lord. I trust in you.

(Final note: My daughter is expecting again. I just found out. You know what? Very little has changed in the circumstances in these last few months, and yet everything has changed. Why? Because I have changed.)


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