(Laugh with me that I’ve been trying to publish this post about not having it together for 48 hours and still can’t get the font size or paragraph spacing to cooperate! I’ve decided to publish it anyway, and hope the font and spacing issues doesn’t make it too difficult for you to read. Thanks for your patience!. . . )
He speaks into my frustration. Two weeks ago my heart sang free, “Here I am/all of me/ take my life/it’s all for Thee.” That day I discovered again the rest that lies in surrender.
Today I’m not there. I’m struggling even to see what binds my heart tight with anxiety. I’m learning this about myself: anxiety is but a symptom of clinging hands. Sometimes I can see what they’re grasping – a desire for control, security, what others think of me – sometimes I can’t. Worse, this week, when I do catch glimpses of what I’m clinging to, I can’t seem to let go.
I tell God all this. Tell him my frustration. Ask him to show me what I’m clinging to. To set me free.
It’s then that He says it.
“Give me the anxiety too.”
And I realize that this week I’m leaving out bits of me when I sing “Here I am/all of me. . .” Oh, sure, I’m giving him all the bits listed in the song – my hands and feet, my voice and lips, my heart and my days. But I’m leaving out the bits of me that I don’t like. The bits that aren’t pretty. The fears and tears and pain.
“Take my will and make it thine; it shall be no longer mine.” Somehow I’ve missed the fact that when I give him my will, I give it for him to make it his. Not because I’ve already made it that way.
I’ve been feeling like I have to figure out what’s behind the fear, invite him into the corner where I’m cowering, hand him my desire for control or change. That’s great when I can surrender it. But when I can’t? He backs it up a step. “Just give me your fear of looking foolish.” And when I can’t even identify that much? “Just give me the anxiety that you can’t figure out. I want it all – all of you – not just the parts you think are acceptable. If you let me in, I can help you with it.”
I’ve known this for years. How do I keep missing it? I don’t have to fix myself before I come to Jesus. Maybe I thought that only applied before I came to him the first time. That now I should have it all together. Breaking news: I don’t. More news: He knows that. And He’s okay with it. He wants all of me. Not just my service. Not just my worship. Not even just the “little” defects that I can tolerate seeing in myself: the overgrown garden and flawed stained glass. He wants to be in the places I can’t fix. The ones I fear and avoid and resent: the nook around the corner where the bits that I cut off sleep alone.
For this is the place that he comes the closest.
“The Christ we find in ourselves is not identified with what we vainly seek to admire and idolize in ourselves – on the contrary, he has identified himself with what we resent in ourselves, for he has taken upon himself our wretchedness and our misery, our poverty and our sins. . . . We will never find peace if we listen to the voice of our own fatuous self-deception that tells us the conflict has ceased to exist. We will find peace when we can listen to the ‘death dance’ in our blood, not only with equanimity but with exultation because we hear within it the echoes of the victory of the Risen Savior.” (Thomas Merton, Monastic Journey, p. 102)
When you’re afraid of the daily dyings