My plan for this fall was to enjoy my new volunteer role as a Regional Advisor to Women’s Ministries in Mid America by attending conferences, connecting with women in my region, and connecting women to other women to begin to build a network of women’s ministry leaders in our region; specifically building a network of co-leadership between older and younger women.
Slowly Unraveled: Changed from the Inside Out, my first book, is also in formatting while I type this post. This fall was also supposed to be a busy season of touching up my book and getting it ready for formatting and publication.
What has actually happened this fall was not at all what I had planned. This fall, God has brought me to a season of surrender—I can’t even open the door to let the dog out or move the apple juice from the refrigerator to the counter. I have only typed one hundred and fifty words at this point of this blog post and I am already beginning to experience fatigue and soreness.
I am in a season of surrender where God has brought me to a place where I need others to hold me up and support me. I have attended zero conferences and I have only been able to connect with women via email, Facebook, and over the phone.
A season of surrender is a hard pill for me to swallow. Many of the threads of my story are tangled up in self-preservation, boot-strap pulling, and doing things all on my own. The words, “I need help” are three words I rarely string together.
But in this season of my recovery from a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy and my husband’s recovery from a foot surgery to repair a almost complete tear in his lisfranc ligament, I am learning to see a beautiful surrender.
A Beautiful Surrender Witnessed
I witnessed a beautiful surrender one afternoon while waiting for the bus to come up the road. In the center of our front yard stands a large October Glory maple tree. At the end of every October its leaves begin to turn bright orange from top to bottom. Most of the bright orange leaves have fallen, been swept up by a rake, and now sit in a landscaping bag on the side of our home. But a few bright orange leaves are still abiding on the large maple tree’s branches. Not abiding by much, but waiting for the time to come for their beautiful surrender.
As I waited for the bus I watched the beautiful surrender of one of those tiny orange leaves. The wind came and that little leaf could not hold on any longer. The wind then carried the leaf off the branch and then gently swirled the leaf to the ground. The leaf did what it was made to do and the tree will continue to survive even after the surrendering of this leaf. The October Glory will be dormant for a time, but soon it will bear new blossoms and leaves in the spring.
A Beautiful Surrender of the Physical Body
It was a beautiful surrender to walk in the bilateral prophylactic journey I have been on. Sometimes in this life we come to a place where we need to let pieces of ourselves go and lie dormant for time so we can bear new and healthier fruit in our lives.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)
This tiny death of losing pieces of myself, will bear much healthier fruit and a long life with my husband and my children. It has been a beautiful surrender to see my journey in this way. A small death of one part tiny part of me will bring new life for the whole.
After my preventative double mastectomy I now have a less than one percent chance of developing breast cancer, and I will never need to have another mammogram.
I will need to lay dormant for a time, but soon will bear new healthier fruit just like the October Glory in my front yard.
A Beautiful Surrender of the Heart
This journey has also been a beautiful surrender of my heart. As a woman who would like to do things her own way because this is how she has had to do them for as long as she can remember, it has been quite a beautiful surrender to rely on others. I have been humbled and I have been blessed. My mother has been gone for twenty years, most of our family lives far away, and my father who lives geographically close, has chosen to not be active in my life.
We had sweet help from my out of town grandmother and my out of town sister the week of my surgery. But the other six weeks of my husband’s and my long recovery I’ve had to ask for a lot of help from those outside of my family. This has pulled on the threads of my mother’s passing from breast cancer and facing the reality that although I want my father to be in my life—he is not here. These are layers in this story—and this has been a part of this beautiful surrender.
I have had to ask people who are not family to drive my children to ballet, baseball, and soccer, sweet neighbors have raked up my leaves, church members have planted mums and mowed our grass, friends have driven us to doctor’s appointments, friends have picked up Click List orders, and friends have made a Target runs to pick up ballet tights when the last pair had too many holes for Lydia to wear to class.
It is a beautiful surrender to come to terms with the truth that my family does not function in the way that I wish it could and let go of expectations I had for my biological family members. I’ve had to realize that God is surrounding me with a new family—people unrelated to me who care for me and hold me up when I can’t hold up myself. This I am grateful for—I don’t believe I could achieve this level of gratitude without the beautiful surrender of what has passed to embrace the beauty of the new family God has surrounded me with during this hard time. It has been beautiful for my children and myself to see the people who have shown up and tangibly loved us for the last six weeks.
While this beautiful surrender is more painful and harder than the physical surrender, this is beautiful surrender is freeing and good. The continuous pain of having expectations for people who don’t care to support you is a continuous pain I am grateful to surrender. While I have done my share of counseling and my share to reach out to my father and reconcile a relationship with him, I am not responsible for how he responds to me. This hurts as a child with one living parent, but I have to let this go.
This beautiful surrender of the heart is painful like the physical surrender of my body—but it is a small emotional death that will bring emotional wholeness in the long term.
In the beautiful surrender of my myopic view family, I can see the bigger picture and the larger family God is providing for me through His people.
A Beautiful Surrender of the Spirit
This life is an entire journey of letting go. I am only in my thirties and I’ve had to let go of so much so many times. But in the letting go of who we are or what we think others should be there is so much healing and so much life. When we myopically focus on all we know or all we have ever known, we are limited.
When we beautifully surrender our myopic focus is when we can see the bigger things God has in store for us. His faithfulness, His love, His people, and His church—all in trusting in His Son and His sacrifice on the cross.
Jesus is the ultimate picture of a beautiful surrender. His death gives the opportunity for many to live.
I did not grow up as a reformed evangelical. I started reading the Bible at age twenty-one. Many wonder how I have ended up a pastor’s wife, let alone a church-going woman.
I don’t have many answers to that question. I am just about as unworthy as anyone and I have done more than my fair share of rebelling against God and how He calls men and women to live.
But I do know it was a beautiful surrender when I let go of my myopic view of who I thought God was and I began to read His Word. For so long I only trusted in my self-constructed worldview of individualism and self-sufficiency.
It is a beautiful surrender to let that go. And a beautiful surrender to trust in Jesus. It is a slow process that is the same as the beautiful physical surrender of my body and the beautiful surrender of my heart. At times, trusting in Jesus has left me feeling bare-boned and as vulnerable as a dormant bare tree.
I am in a constant season of surrender where nothing seems to go as I have planned—but far better. Because I trust in a God who holds me up and provides for me in ways that are outside of my myopic view. I have gone from rarely stringing the words “I need help” together to “I Need Thee Every Hour” and this is not because of any magic formula or anything spectacular I have done. This is simply because I trust in the beautiful surrender of Jesus and His death on the cross.
If you have been following this bilateral prophylactic mastectomy story of mine, my ultimate hope is that you will consider letting go and embracing what can be new for you— beautiful surrenders, and an Ultimate Hope.
It is a great time of year to consider Jesus. His life, His death, and His eternal hope for you. It is a beautiful surrender to trust in Him. It is letting go of who you thought you were and embracing who He is making you to be.
In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I pray he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:12-17 paraphrased).