Over the past year, I have repeatedly considered
a) Shutting down this blog page completely …..or…
b)changing the name.
Neither have happened. I can’t seem to let go of my “prairie” designation as this is where I live and life is harsh here. It’s either too hot and dry in the summer or too cold and unforgiving in the winter. The happy medium is fall when it rains or the days are warm and nights are cool or in the spring when we can go outside without a jacket but still have to turn up the heat for evening.
I spent the majority of December crying. This is not my favourite pastime for the month of all things Christmas. I’m a joy bringer- I’m the one with the sugar cookies and tinsel garland. I puke mini-lights and shortbread like it’s my job. I cannot go a day without some Amy Grant Christmas on my airwaves. I’m all eggnog and Bailey’s for 31 days straight and no one can snap me out of it.
Until this year. This year, the Christmas carols that started in early November drifted into laments in early December. One day I was clicking through my playlists and landed on Tasha Cobbs Leonard. I stayed there for the next 10 days. That was around December 5. Things did not get better. By December 15 I was a miserable, shaking, crying, angry mess.
On Friday, December 15, 2017 I helped my friends pack a U-Haul and watched them drive it away. They had only been here for 4 1/2 months. It was a shock to my system. I was heartbroken that I may have contributed either to their coming or their early departure. Doing ministry work is messy and thankless at times. You spend a lot of hours wondering if you heard God right or if you interpreted His leading correctly. But there is nothing as hard as losing loyal, grounded, committed allies when the work of ministry was *just* beginning to bear fruit. The shock of them leaving so quickly after arriving gave way to anger which gave way to heart-crushing sadness and then a complete state of confusion followed for weeks.
I’m still not totally out of that but I have prayed a lot for God to give me something to hold on to. I’m a fixer and a doer and sitting around feels like a prison.
The very same day, another era was also coming to an end. As we packed up our friends’ home, our other friends were holding the tiny hand of their little boy as he entered into Heaven’s gates. And my heart nearly couldn’t take it. In fact, unbeknownst to me what was happening in that hospital room 9 hours away, my own heart was hurting so bad I nearly had my husband drive me to the ER. The weeks of worry and waiting and praying and crying and wishing and pleading had left me broken. And I don’t think I could have taken another day of it.
I woke up December 16 exhausted and done. I was just so done. Our friends drove their Uhaul away from our house and I told my husband that I needed to sleep for a week. I was so sad to see them leave but we both agreed that we needed a rest from all of the pain. In the hours that followed the reality of the other painful event would be revealed and the very first thing I realized that day was this: my heart wasn’t hurting anymore. It had been hurting for so long I hadn’t even noticed how much it had become a part of my daily life. And on that Saturday afternoon, I sat in silence and the pain was gone. I asked God to give peace to these families as they transitioned into the “after” of their lives. The “before this happened” portion was done and now they were going to be marking every day, every triumph, every tragedy, every sadness, every joy by this day.
I don’t know why I had that heart pain for all of those days while that precious boy lay fighting for his life in the hospital. I don’t know why there was all of that personal turmoil in our lives with our friends and their sudden termination from ministry here. I don’t understand any of it. And I tried to figure out why my physical heart pain was suddenly gone. And God gave me this: surrender. I looked it up. Among the definitions for surrender is this: “abandon oneself *ENTIRELY* to a powerful emotion or influence; give in to. ”
My friends surrendered. They could have stayed. They could have fought. But they did not.
This little boy surrendered his body- he abandoned himself entirely . And in so doing, his family was forced to surrender as well.
Surrender is powerful. Because once you give in and give yourself over to God, the pain goes away. It’s just over.
I’m still sad. I’m still angry. I’m a beat-the-doors-down, slam my fist on board room tables, demand answers kind of girl. I’m not easily pushed over. But I have found myself in this new, awkward, quiet place of surrender. It’s a place of brokenness. I don’t really like it- I’ll admit that quite readily. I’m not comfortable giving in and not having a final word. But I’m choosing it as gracefully as I can.
The harsh prairie wind is blowing again today. Some say it’s no place for humans to be when it’s this cold. I’m not moving, yet. And the God that dwells in the tropical places on mountain tops and in rain forests is still the same God who we surrender to on the cold and barren prairie.
And multiply, God, all that I am
And find my heart on the altar again
Set me on fire, set me on fire
Arms wide open
Pouring out my life
Your mighty love stands strong to the end
You will fulfill Your purpose for me
You won’t forsake me, You will be with me
Arms wide open
Pouring out my life
All to Jesus now
Holding nothing back
Holding nothing back