- Surrender [1. a: to yield to the power, control, or possession of another upon compulsion or demand b: to give up completely or agree to forgo especially in favor of another. 2. a : to give (oneself) up into the power of another especially as a prisoner b : to give (oneself) over to something (such as an influence)]
Here’s the thing about surrender. It’s conscious and willing.
I want to start this post by saying I never thought I’d share any part of my personal life-story, in a blog post, on the internet. Writing it even now feels like I’ve betrayed and exposed my family, my church, my old friends and everyone I hold dear. Being vulnerable about myself is somehow exposing them and it feels strange. Most of them will never read it, or take the time to see how I’m doing at school but that is okay. So for the maybe 30 people who will read this 🙂 thank you. To be heard is a privilege.
I recently talked to a friend who I never expected read my post, and it encouraged her and gave me the encouragement to keep writing and telling my story. So here we go, this is my story and I’m sticking to it. (Even if only a small part of the beginning)
When I was three years old I walked into my parents room on the second floor of our Tudor style house. My parents room is now (Many years later) my little sister’s room, after it was renovated. I walked into the attached sun porch on the second floor with terrible airflow. This room would frost in the winter and cause candles to melt during the summer due to the two walls of floor to ceiling windows. This room was always warm to me though. Even in the winter when my nose would run, I would crawl under the covers in the king size bed (which was ginormous to a 3-yr old) next to my parents and be safe, warm, and happy. I was safe in that room. That time, many years ago, was different.
My memories of that morning look like photos and vine clips. Snippets of my past so vital to the person I have become, they are cemented in my mind. After all of these years my memory of them has not changed. I was three, a long time ago, but I do still remember them so clearly.
I remember feeling alone. I didn’t know where my family was in our house (which felt so much bigger at the time) looking for my big brothers who were normally causing a ruckus and the music in our house was quiet. My house is never quiet. I remember the feeling of loneliness, the darkness of the hallway and the warm light walking into the sunny-safe room that day.
I felt something dark inside of me, it felt like wires and emptiness. My parents and my brothers were on my parents king size bed. They had been crying. Why was my family crying? My dad was praying with my second oldest brother, I knew what prayer was. We did it every night. My oldest brother, his eyes were red, he had been crying. My mom. My sweet mom looked at me, smiling, with tears in her eyes. The wires in my heart began to hurt, and burn.
I should have asked why everyone was crying. That would have been the right thing to do. However, I (like any 3-yr old) selfishly asked my mom about myself and what I was feeling.
“Mommy, I feel empty inside, and it hurts”
My mom then asked me to describe what I was feeling, sharp, pain, empty, dark. I didn’t understand. My mom asked me if I wanted Jesus to come and live in the space. (Jesus that is related to praying, Daddy says Jesus, Mommy sings about Jesus) (Jesus was safe).
I asked Jesus to come live in my heart. I asked Him to take away all my sin. Even at three I didn’t know how “bad” my sin could actually be? Yelling, stealing a cookie from my siblings? I don’t know. All I knew was that I didn’t want my sin anymore. Even though it was light “3-year old” sin, I didn’t want it.
“I wasn’t empty anymore. I felt this warm light come live inside of me. It overcame the dark wires. It felt like the sunlight I had walked into, but it was living inside of me and it wanted to come out. I would never be alone again “
Now, what does my salvation story have to do with 21 Project in Kona Hawaii in 2017?
19 years later I would not have asked people for money, to send me to Hawaii, to learn from people I didn’t know, if I hadn’t heard from God. I would not have heard from God if I had not surrendered then and there at three.
While I was in Kona, Andy Byrd gave a teaching on the beauty of an Uncommon Surrender. The point that stung me the most was:
“The power of that yes carries the weight of every no to everything else”
Andy gave the example of marriage, the power in that yes, to spend your life with one person, carries the weight of saying no to everyone else forever. It occurred to me then, that the death (or hard part) in sacrifice was never an issue for me. Saying yes wasn’t the problem, saying no was. Surrender is not a sacrifice. It is giving up the right to say yes to anything other than God in order to gain everything.
In surrender you give up loneliness and gain the most amazing companion. I gave up my right to complain, and got the most amazing joy I have ever experienced.
The reason my salvation story found its fit in this post, is that when I asked Jesus to come into my life at the age of three, I knew what I was getting into. I knew my life was not my own. I knew I would never be the same. I knew that the Holy Spirit was living inside and around me and that I could talk to Him whenever I wanted. Would He have revealed Himself to me later in life? Maybe. Personally, I shudder at the thought of my surrender being delayed even by one day. Where would I be? Who would I have become?
In Kona I didn’t discover new areas to surrender, I discovered that I had to surrender my right to “be right” or think I have everything figured out. Part of being convicted to dream bigger is recognizing that I was dreaming too small, and therefore not walking out the fullness of what He has for me. My plans I thought God had given me for my life after school, however righteous I thought they would be, had to be put back in His hands after I had closed my fingers around them.
Surrender right now looks like not being in control and trusting Him for everything in every area: finance, time, health, creativity, education, spirituality, appearance, influence, diet, relationships, and so much more. Surrender is willingly letting go of control.
So now what? Now I lay it down.
“Whatever it takes, whatever it costs”
I knew this song before I went to Kona. At some point in the second week I heard Lindy lead this song in person. I went back to my room and bought the album. This song (along with many others) has been one of my anthems coming back to school and this concept of “real life”. (not life on an island in the South Pacific, being poured into for 8+hours a day). School has been crazy, (it is only day four) and I will go into more of that in the next post. For now I wanted to challenge you, the reader, to surrender.
Lay down your right to criticize. Lay down your time and opinion. Sacrifice every dark area in your life and give it to Him. The crazy thing is you will only get light, joy, and love in return.