Years ago, I remember being so deep in financial trouble I didn’t know if we would ever get out. Lee was in the middle of a horrid depression, we were struggling to pay our power bill, and bill collectors were ringing our phone off of the hook.
I’ve never forgotten the day that one of our local suppliers named Tom came up to ask me about money. Lee had been having one anxiety attack after another, so I went out to talk to Tom. I didn’t know what to tell him except the truth. We would get him some money when we could.
After Tom left, the phone continued to ring and Lee continued to suffer. If you have ever been in this boat — and I hope you haven’t — then I think you get it. We were surrounded by what seemed like impossible circumstances. By lunchtime, I was in the bathroom crying myself. Lee came to the door and asked me what he could do to help. With snot flying and tears rolling, I told him he could go down to the post office and see if there were any checks that day. The truth was, I had looked and none were supposed to arrive. I told Lee that, but something in me sent him anyway. As I sat bawling, I said a prayer, “God, I know that when I try to be in control I somehow manage to get things all out of whack. If there is just some way that Lee could come back with a check, I promise I will surrender to YOU and allow YOU to guide my life from here.” I know we are not supposed to bargain with God, but like sending Lee, I did it anyway.
I was still in the bathroom when Lee returned. He knocked on the door, and I opened to see his sweet smile. He looked at me and began to go through envelopes of checks — one, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Yes, there were seven checks in the mail that day. I said a prayer of thanksgiving and proceeded to live my life fulfilling my promise. The days would come when I failed. I’ve failed a bunch and still do.
Mama always told me and Sissy, “A hard head makes for a soft ass.” Mama was right. Sometimes my lessons have come the hard way, and I know, without a doubt, the more I try to take charge the worse things get. I’ve come to realize that life can be as hard or as easy as we make it. Surrendering is the key. Surrendering has been one of the HARDEST things I have ever done. I’ve always thought I needed to fight to the death. I no longer believe that. Peace comes when we totally surrender and give our trust over to the source that is bigger than us all.
I’m sure you know that our prayers are not always answered with checks in the mail. Sometimes we are faced with circumstances that seem like the farthest thing from the answer we are seeking. Death, illness, unbearable pain, and financial turmoil have often come in the midst of my surrendering. What I am relearning is that even when those ships dock on my shore, if I surrender and trust, the water stays calm and I get through whatever it is rocking my boat to begin with.