“To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our imaginings. So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God molds us according to God’s love and not according to our fear. The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.” -Henri NouwenI am not sure how I got to this place...a place not quite like what Nouwen speaks of (as I am still stubbornly a glass half empty sort of person) but coming closer. Maybe it has just been the aging and wearing out process that has allowed me to relax my grip on fear and therefore the desire to be in control. Maybe it has been the unpreventable losses and endings and the reality of death's place within all creation that has me giving up my impulsive, instinctive management acts. I think it is all of that. And it is something that has grown out of hearing over and over and over again, declaring with my mouth that it true, and in small ways, by grace, living as though it is true that God is enough. The assurance is seeping in and slowly saturating me with increased confidence in the Control that is not mine.
Just recently, I had the joy of spending 3 days with a friend I have had for 20 years. We don't see each other very often as we live way too many miles apart. But I flew to Florida and we sat on her lanai for almost the entire time, getting up for food when we thought about it, venturing out to take the dogs to the dog park, but mostly we just talked and remembered. We shared stories of things we once tried to manage...marriages, children, jobs, circumstances. We reflected on how hard it has been to be mothers of adult children who wander(ed) in the shadows and how not being able to keep them safe and lead them by the hand forced us to wait and pray and turn and practice faith. We shared stories of trying to trust when a child is in rehab for the second time or admitted to the psychiatric floor or called up before a judge for drug violations. We talked about the grief of broken relationships and pain suffered from stones of judgment thrown. And then we moved on to talk about God's love and our discovery of it through the years as He waited with and for us all along the way. And we talked about God's love being enough...enough for us and all those we love.We discovered this love through the firm hand of our God's discipline that forced lessons of yielding and waiting, more so than the satisfaction of our wants and needs, ought-to's and should-have-been's.
Neither surrender or waiting are natural characteristics for most of us. My sense is we are born wanting and demanding our needs be met. When someone else fails to satisfy we instinctively set out on our own to find what we think we have to have. We think we can and should, in our own strength, go in and "conquer the land". We think that is what we are about ... that that is our destiny. But, God's desire is that we wait. Wait every moment, in every moment, in every situation, for He is a work. It is what He does. He so loves the world.
We have been molded according to God's creative love. We are defined by God's creative love. The tools in His hands to form us and shape us have often been used with force and caused pain and yet at other times they have brought great comfort and release. Now with the perspective of 20 years my friend and I can bear testimony to a vision of the end result of this love. New things have happened and will happen. Things beyond our imaginations, for who would have imagined divorce and drug abuse and mental health challenges would be a part of our lives. Who would have fantasized that cancer and death would would have brought us closer to God's love. Our lives are caught up in the mystery of surrender and waiting for the our God who is enough to finish what He has begun. His love is enough. He is enough.