A while back when I faced an onslaught of anxiety from the far horizon of my unconscious, during the desert of mid-life, when my hands-on, self-less years of motherhood withered to cooking one family dinner a week, if even, when my son’s adolescence took root, when menopause and teen hormones danced hip-hop through my living room, when the house went quiet too often, when I suddenly faced my emptied self in limbo.
Up to that blurry point, I’d been faithful and God-seeking, prayerful, going to Bible study weekly, and filled with the joy of the spirit. I’d been content with my honey infused green-tea spiritual morning practice of contemplative prayer and scripture reading. I didn’t expect the onslaught of anxiety swirling from a beckoning horizon, a looming darkness on the edges of my sunny days, that finally shadowed my enlightened self like a solar eclipse. Suddenly anxiety clung to my days like a screaming child, her arms wrapped tight around her mother’s thigh. No matter how much I prayed and cried out for relief from this roaring angst, it wouldn’t leave. It woke me in the morning, and kept me up at night. Only repetitious prayers of “God have mercy” could finally allow me slumber.
Looking back, my “perfect”, pious, good-girl, spiritual practices were just that — not the real deal. Self-soothing, with holy intentions, clothed in a monk-like aura, they lacked roots and radical surrender. God wanted all of me — surrendered fully. When I thought I’d been living God’s will, I’d been designing my own idea of seeking God’s will through ritual, where the ritual trumped God and became god. Wake and make tea. Center myself in silence. Read the scripture of the day and an inspirational prayer. Soak in the word. Surrender the jungle of thoughts swinging like monkeys from trees until God peeks through like sunlight. Savor these rare moments of grace. Looking from the outside, one might think this an impressive holy ritual for a modern-day woman. Yet, it really was no different from when I felt holier just by going church and church activities each week, when I had been missing the main point: a complete surrendering to God’s will not just on Sunday, but everyday, every moment possible.
God wants all of us.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. – Romans 13:1
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. – Galatians 2:20
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. – Matthew 16:25
Anxiety is our surrender flag, waving it’s rigorous, flapping cloth in our face. It’s rolling thunder over our wills, a booming reminder to return to our maker, to the lap of God’s will, the promise of a life well-lived. It is a warning flag to return to the one who orchestrates the undoing of our burdens, who gives us a new spirit and new heart, who promises rest for our souls, bringing joy and freedom, enlivening the fruits of the spirit within.
Who wouldn’t want such freedom?
Surrendering to God’s will needs to be our only prayer, the heart of hearts of our spiritual practice, until it’s etched into our very being.
We need to make our spiritual lives more simple, get out of our own way, let Jesus ride the donkey into our lives, surrendering each waking moment to the will of God. He shows us how, follow his ways, immerse yourself in the heart of Christ’s heart. To the very last day he followed God’s will: “Yet not as I will, but as You will.” Throughout his ministry Jesus said, “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God”, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work.” “I can do nothing by Myself; I judge only as I hear. And My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
Make the red flags of worry, anxiety, depression, doubt, fear, anger, sadness, and hopelessness point you back home to the doorway of “Thy will be done“. Surrendering to God’s will, hold your goals loosely, allowing the winds of the spirit to guide your days, leading you onto new paths already paved before you. Don’t chart your own course, navigating nature’s unreliable winds, learn and listen to the whispers of the spirit guiding “go this way”. Bring your spiritual practices, your church-going or non-church going into the fire of God’s will. Pray vibrant prayers for the flags of your relentless anxieties flapping loudly in the spirit’s breeze, to return you to the holy island of God’s will — where love and peace abounds, where we’re shaped and conformed to God’s image, transformed into people who bring heaven to earth.
Surrendering to God’s will is a get out of jail free ticket from fretting, worrying and self-entrapment. It is wearing the mind of Christ, centering into the womb of divine trust and guidance, into landscapes of God’s gentle, guiding spirit of contentment, wisdom, relinquishment, and a thousand unfolding miracles.
But listen closely. God’s will is counter-cultural, non-conformist, unworldly, merciful, wildly creative and super interesting. Take heed. Surrender. Listen closely so you don’t miss God’s truth shining through you.
“Or do you not realize about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you?” – 2 Corinthians 13:5
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.