Freedom After Surrender
April 5, 2018, marked five years since my divorce was final. Lots of things have grown during that time, including the number on my bathroom scale, the gray hairs that adorn my head, and the number of little aches and pains I experience every morning when I roll out of bed.
Other areas I’ve grown in — patience, endurance, resilience, perseverance, and determination – are ones that were already embedded in me but are also ones that were fertilized by the tears that eventually began to flow again when I was left to face the woman in the mirror. They are the ones I had to sharpen and grow in in order to live again.
By now, most everyone knows that I was in an extremely abusive marriage that resulted in my having an aneurysm on July 21, 2009. On that day, I had been married almost 16 years. By that time, seething hot anger and corrosive bitterness had fully consumed me. I was in a bad mood nearly 24/7. The only time I was the least bit pleasant was when I dealt with my son. He has always been the love, light, and joy of my life. He will always be those things for me.
I had built a wall that was too high for anyone to climb and too thick for anyone or anything to penetrate. That thing had been constructed with generous layers of fear, anger, bitterness, loneliness, and self-loathing, all in an effort to protect myself from any more damage. I lived behind that wall through lots of things. I was already numb to life in general because of the mental, emotional, verbal, and financial abuse, but that wall shielded me from the pain of family loss and other tragedies. I come from an extremely large family, but we are close. We’re incredibly close, but during that time, I felt nothing. One of my aunts died, but I didn’t shed a tear. I was hurt beyond anything I can describe, but I didn’t cry.
I didn’t start to show real emotion again until my own mother died on October 24, 2015, and even then, I only cried enough to need one tissue at the funeral. Earlier that week, when we realized she was going to die, I cried, but not much. I was about to lose my mama. She had been my rock, she had been my strength until dementia took her away. The truth is, she had gradually started to leave us in 2007 when the hell known as dementia crept into her life. It would tear my heart out to see her struggling to remember us, but I had become immune to true, genuine empathy. I just couldn’t feel anything. I was a broken woman.
At one point, I thought I was shattered beyond repair. I had never even heard the sentiment that sometimes things fall apart so that better things can come together. I never considered the fact that my entire life was falling to pieces in order that it may be rebuilt into something amazing. That amazing life? It’s under construction and it’s going to be a pure work of art. It’s going to be a thing of beauty because the architect is the head of my life. The builder of the life I was meant to live is God. Once I surrendered all that I am, all my troubles, all my doubts, all my fears, and just got out of His way, things began to fall into place. There are still some pieces scattered about, but those are the ones that didn’t belong (the failed relationship, the jobs I was passed over for, the friendships that imploded, etc.).
For someone like me who thrives on self-control, surrender was incredibly difficult. I thought I knew what was best for my life. I was so ridiculously angry when I had to move back to Louisiana. In August 2013 when I made my way back to my home state, I was so angry, I couldn’t sleep. I had been uprooted from the life I had come to know in Dallas. I had lived in Denver for 14 years, so I loved the city life. I didn’t want to return to the country. Little did I know that God had sent me back to Sarepta to help with my ailing mother. I couldn’t have known that I would be spending the last five years of his life with my nephew, Arthur. We had been raised as brother and sister, and those last five years were simply splendid.
I didn’t realize that some of the things I was gripping the tightest were the things I needed to release. I held tight to a relationship that was what I thought I wanted but turned out to be one of the most toxic I would ever experience. Even after asking God to show me what I needed to see, I continued to hold on to that man. My heart had to be gnashed before I let go. That’s a piece I’ll never pick up again.
Know that following surrender, there is almost always peace. Know that handing over the things you can’t control to begin with will free your spirit. Know that the road from point A to point B doesn’t necessarily have to be filled with potholes. Sometimes the potholes that are present in our lives are there because we keep traveling the same route with those heavy, battered spirits, creating holes in our existence that don’t have to be. We spin our wheels and get mad because we’re not moving. Let go of the things that aren’t meant for you, and I promise life itself will open up for you. Surrender.